The Loaf is preparing meals to hand out to those in need at this time. Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press

Elk Valley holds on to hope while pandemic ensues

Weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, communities in the Elk Valley continue to find ways to spread joy

While efforts to remain socially distant continue in the Elk Valley and beyond, there are a number of touching initiatives popping up throughout the area, keeping community spirits high.

In response to receiving two generous donations of $2,000 from anonymous community members, The Loaf in Fernie is making and packaging a number of meals for those in need. Food donations from Sysco and help from the Elk Valley COVID Support Team (EVCST) to distribute the meals have allowed this project to prosper.

“There are a lot of people that are not able to leave their houses at the moment. Some are elderly, or have underlying health issues that require them to remain in quarantine, so they may not be able to get some of the food they need,” said Melinda Cunningham, front of house manager at The Loaf. “I think this is a great way to help people in our community that aren’t able to help themselves.”

What started as a small initiative to help those most vulnerable has become a community wide demonstration of resiliency, hope, and love. The Loaf hopes to maintain this project for at least a few weeks, if not a month, depending on demand. They currently encourage anyone who wants to volunteer, or who knows of another in need, to contact them via Facebook or to reach out to the EVCST.

The kindness however, does not stop there. Elko based Karey Pion, owner of Soco Soaps, has also stepped up to offer her support to the community at this time. Making good use of excess end pieces, her and her daughters spent a day distributing soap to all 58 homes in Elko. They later delivered full bars of soap to both retirement homes in Fernie as well.

“I just figure that right now everybody has something that they can do to make someone’s day, even from afar. This is a great time to show what a community we can be,” said Pion.

After delivering the soap in Elko, Pion came home to find gifts left on her vehicle, showing not only that kindness is contagious, but that communities in the Elk Valley are finding incredible ways to demonstrate their support and compassion for one another.

“If you stop and take a look at what’s going on around us, I actually feel like distance is making us grow closer as a community. It makes you slow down and realize the importance of life,” said Pion. “All the little things we never had time for, we now all of a sudden have time for. The things you always wanted to do with your kids that you never had a chance to do, this is the time to do them.”

Having adapted to the current circumstances, Soco Soaps has started offering doorstep deliveries to ensure everyone has access to what is an extremely important resource for hygiene. They have also introduced a bulk option for liquid soaps so people can fill up their existing containers. Selling a myriad of deliciously scented products including shampoo and conditioner bars, liquid and bar soap, lotions, bath bombs, foamy hand soap, deodorants, and lip balms, those interested in placing an order can do so online at

A number of other grassroots initiatives have also sprung up around the Elk Valley to offer support to those in need. For instance, the aforementioned Elk Valley COVID Support Team was created to provide emotional care, spiritual support, and prescription and grocery delivery to those in need. Currently accepting both volunteers and donations, more information can be found at

A number of virtual concerts and events have also sprung up within the last week to entertain locals. For instance, on Saturday, March 28, Shred Kelly came together on an Instagram live stream to host a Saturday Night Cocktail Party concert. They encouraged virtual attendees to dress up in their finest attire and to send them their favourite cocktail recipes and song requests, making for a lively dance party in living rooms across the community.

Another Kootenay band, RedGirl, also hosted a live streamed concert from their kitchen on Saturday afternoon. In addition to live concerts, Louise Ferguson from The Arts Station promises to put on a series of virtual professional development sessions for artists. Streamed over Zoom, the sessions will discuss topics ranging from self promotion, to professional practices in the art world. The presentations will be held at 5 p.m. on April 3, April 10, and April 17. Visit The Arts Station website under their events tab to register for the programs.

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