Tommy Barr’s long-awaited vacation abroad was cancelled due to a deadly, worldwide disease, but he didn’t sulk. Instead, he took the money he would have spent on the trip and put it to good use, donating it to the Lord’s Bounty Food Bank.
After getting the relevant refunds, Barr took the funds he had spent on planning a trip with his mother Gwen to Australia and New Zealand and donated them to the food bank on St. Patrick’s Day.
“My mom and I had this trip planned out for a while, a kind of her dream trip. I had some extra time and wanted to take her somewhere she wanted to go,” Tommy said of the trip. The Barrs would have flown south - way south - on March 15.
“We’d been planning this trip for probably four months now. With everything going on in the world with the coronavirus, I’ve been watching and waiting and saying we’ll take it day by day, but we had to pull the trigger and say it’s getting too worrisome.”
In total, the donation came to $5,000 - around a full sixth of the food bank’s annual budget and nearly enough money to cover the group’s entire annual food spend.
When the Barrs brought the cheque in to the Lord’s Bounty Food Bank March 17, volunteers did not know the dollar amount they had in mind.
Director Alison Dallas-Funk, who accepted the donation for the food bank, was in a rare state - lost for words.
“I can’t even hug you guys,” Dallas-Funk quipped.
“I don’t even know what to say.”
In a time of increasing wealth inequality, higher usage of the food bank in Flin Flon and COVID-19 spreading worldwide, Dallas-Funk said the need for food bank services may be at its highest.
“It’s a huge thing that people don’t think about - the average Canadian is two paycheques away from not having access to food,” she said.
“We think, long term, that this [COVID-19] outbreak is going to affect people. There’s a lot of single parents, people working in retail, where if stores cut their hours, that’s going to be a huge factor too.”
“The sad thing is, the need is probably going to increase,” Tommy added.
Part of the Barrs’ donation has to do with helping the community at a time in need. Another side of the donation is maintaining a sense of social perspective.
“There’s people with other struggles, too. Thinking about that and schools closing, breakfast programs being cancelled and all sorts of stuff. We’re sad that we’re cancelling a trip, but there’s a lot of people who have real food insecurity. We’re talking about seeing places being shut down and people are worried about how they’re going to put food on the table, not being upset that they can’t go to the beach,” said Tommy.
“It’s such an excellent choice. It helps the elderly, it helps the children, it helps the homeless, it helps so many people, single mothers, single workers,” said Gwen.
“It’s taking a negative into a positive,” added Dallas-Funk.
The money will be free for the food bank to use on whatever items or methods the board deems necessary.
For the food bank, which anticipates a higher volume of people throughout the COVID-19 situation, donations of money, services or goods will be necessary.
“Any donation contributes to helping. Nickels and dimes add up to a lot of money,” Gwen said.