Above: The United Way office in downtown Lethbridge was temporarily transformed into a PPE distribution centre, supplying items to over 60 charities and nonprofits in the region.
LETHBRIDGE-The United Way office in downtown Lethbridge has been a hot spot over the last few weeks since it was temporarily transformed into a PPE distribution centre, thanks to the generosity of one Canadian retailer. On Wednesday, January 20, more than 60,000 face masks, 1,800 bottles of hand sanitizer, and thousands of other PPE items arrived with the purpose of helping community agencies to protect people against COVID-19.
The donation comes from Bianca Amor’s Liquidation Supercentre, which has donated more than a million masks, and tens of thousands of other PPE items to United Ways in Western Canada, including Alberta United Ways in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and Lethbridge. The total value of the donation was approximately $300,000.
Amor, who started her first store in Calgary when she was just 13 years old, said that donating these items felt like the right thing to do.
“As someone who has been buying and distributing product for 20 years, I understand the efficiency of distribution,” she said. “And that’s something I really admire about the United Way – their ability to do the work and get things out to the people who need them.”
Company founder Bianca Amor shows off two mask styles which were part of the donation.
Many of the items received by United Way in Lethbridge have already made their way to over 60 charities and nonprofits across south western Alberta, many of which are providing critical services to vulnerable people and families through the pandemic.
“Making sure organizations can continue to provide frontline services safely is incredibly important, and we’re so thankful to Bianca Amor for this gift,” said United Way executive director Janelle Marietta. “It shows that this is a company that cares about the health and wellbeing of communities, and we appreciate it.”
Marietta also explained that the donation was well-timed, with many organizations facing donation shortages, and significant changes to traditional fundraisers over the past year.
“We’re all encouraged to operate our programs and services in the safest way possible,” she said. “But PPE comes at a cost, and that can be a challenge for organizations, especially smaller ones, and those who have been closed due to restrictions. It’s really great that we can help fill that gap for them, even in the short-term.”
Amor said that all recent business decisions have been made with the goal of preventing the spread of COVID-19, including implementing one-way aisles, installing plastic shields at tills, and extending store hours to reduce foot traffic and crowds. In addition, the company began ordering PPE items very early on to meet demand.
“We did everything we could to stay open following the safety protocols and making sure our employees still had jobs,” she said. “We’re doing what we can, and I think donating to people who need it in the community is one thing, but I think we can all step up a little. We’re all in this together.”