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Fears of another wave, another lockdown, and COVID in general have many parishes looking for ways to mitigate the spread of infection and help keep their people healthy.

The Canadian Red Cross has a free Stop the Spread and Stay Safe! program that provides masks and test kits to non-profits. Parishes are welcome to access it, but the deadline for applying is Nov. 18. 

The Parish of McAdam did just that recently and is happy with the results.

“It’s very easy to apply,” said warden Linda Klassen. “The only thing you definitely need is your charity number.”

Linda visited the website , filled out the sections and had the supplies shipped.

“Each section of the application takes about three minutes to complete,” she said, adding there are four sections. “I did it on a Tuesday and had it by Friday.”

Linda’s commitment is to report on the quantities distributed, a requirement for receiving the kits.

“I write down how many have been used and I can replenish once a month,” she said. 

The parish had been supplying masks, and that can get expensive. As well, this kit comes with N95 masks, not the flat paper masks most have been using.

“It’s really good for our older congregation,” she said. “We still do precautions too. We play music but we don’t sing in church. We’re extra cautious.”

Linda ordered the smallest kit available, which is still larger than most parishes will need, so she’s ready to share with area churches and the community centre.

“It’s for people who can’t aways get to Fredericton to get them,” she said. “It’s for a good reason.” 

The Ven. Cathy Laskey encourages parishes to take advantage of this free program. 

“I see this as a ministry opportunity and a small thing we as a church can do to help others and the health care system,” she said.   

“Parishes can distribute to other parishes or denominational churches or organizations in the community or geographical area. They can act as a distribution hub.” 

The Ven. Kevin Stockall sees value in being that distribution hub. His parish was the recipient of a large donation of N95 masks and test kits, though not from the Red Cross.

“In the summer St. Mary's received a significant donation of masks and test kits from a not-for-profit organization which no longer had a use for them,” he said.

“We've been offering them both within the three parishes currently involved in shared ministry (Stanley, Marysville, and St. Mary's) as well as to those outside the parish communities that we hear may need them.

“There's been more requests for the test kits, of which approximately 70 per cent have been distributed. Rapids tests seem to be difficult to source in the community.”

He said they’ve used or given away about half of the 960 masks they received. 

From the Red Cross website:
The Canadian Red Cross, working in partnership with Health Canada and provincial and territorial authorities, is providing free take-home COVID-19 rapid tests and masks to eligible non-profits and charities to help keep their personnel and the people they serve safer.

Eligible non-profits and charities will receive free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests and masks for them to distribute to their personnel, clients and partner organizations for them to use at home.

Use the link above to apply, and please do so by Nov. 18.

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