Fernie Distillers is among the businesses reaching out to the community during this time of need. Soranne Floarea/The Free Press

Fernie holds on to hope in midst of COVID-19

Communities in the Elk Valley are coming together with various initiatives to support one another

Despite business closures and efforts towards social isolation, there are still a number of local organizations that are striving to spread joy to the community by offering inventive services and opening socially responsible initiatives.

Fernie Distillers was one of the businesses to lead the charge with their supportive efforts. The kindhearted business owners, Jillian Rutherford and Andrew Hayden, allowed members of the community to come in and make their own hand sanitizer for free. Residents just had to bring in their favourite hand lotion, and the distillers mixed it with acetone and methanol to make a liquid that is at least 60 per cent alcohol. The altruistic local company also made several batches of hand sanitizer for distribution to vulnerable members of the community, and the Fernie Fire Department.

In an effort to keep spirits high and locals entertained, two members of local band Shred Kelly put on an acoustic live show that streamed online on March 21. The show, streamed from their back yard to watchers across Facebook, was meant to replace their yearly appearance at Fernie Stoke Fest.

Similarly the annual Hot Dog Day celebrations are officially going high tech this year with the streaming of a video feed featuring a local deejay. People are encouraged to tune in from their regular isolation quarters and join the party. These shows are proof that the spirit of Fernie is staying alive, optimistic, and hopeful even through these challenging times.

Another organization offering their services at this time is Kootenay Farm to Folk. The organization pairs with over 80 local farmers to supply their customers with healthy, locally grown food in an effort to support local economies and the environment. At this moment in time, their main goal is to help the community in whatever way they can.

“Remember to support the local businesses, because they are the ones that are going to be hit the hardest in all of this,” said Rhianna Embury from Kootenay Farm to Folk. “That’s what we are trying to do. We’ve been in contact with all of our suppliers, and they are loving that we have an online presence because we do ordering online and we do free delivery to homes, so there is still access to the farmer’s market products without a farmer’s market.”

In an effort to prevent overloading their suppliers, Kootenay Farm to Folk’s online ordering is temporarily shut down as they make changes to better accommodate the influx in home deliveries. They will also be incorporating new local products to the website they are currently redesigning, which should be up and running very shortly. For up to date information, head to their Facebook page.

“The support from so many people, and to know that everyone is rallying together and being very community minded is a beautiful thing to see,” said Embury.

Another example of the community rallying together took place at The Fernie Legion March 21 to 23. The Legion announced on Facebook that they would be accepting donations of clothing, household goods, and other thoroughly cleaned and boxed items. As the Salvation Army Thrift Store is no longer able to accept items, The Legion had an innovative idea to bridge the gap for people looking to donate their things.

To be as socially responsible as possible, there were a number of restrictions and hygienic practices put into place but the idea behind the initiative was to prevent goods from being thrown in the trash during a time when many residents are moving. The collected items will be sold in a garage sale with proceeds going back into the community once the isolation period is over.

Despite the hardship and uncertainty, hope, togetherness, and kindness prevail in the Elk Valley.


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