The anguish is audible as Bev Elder, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank speaks over the phone about the stress that she, her staff and volunteers have experienced over the last few months.
“When COVID-19 first hit in March, we worked for seven weeks straight, not one day off, trying to make sure people were feed, to change everything,” she said. “Our priority was to feed people and we did that. “[But] we are worn-thin. We are so fragile at this point. I could burst into tears now.”
Elder’s frayed state of mind took a hit Wednesday when, she says, a man attacked her and son Tyson Elder, the food bank’s operations manager.
“Everybody is so thankful for what we are doing, and then you get this happening to you,” she said. “It just makes you want to give up completely.”
Elder said the Nov. 18 incident left her “rattled to the bone” and “shaking,” not to mention feeling a sense of frustration.
According to Elder, Sidney/North Saanich RCMP recommended assault charges against a Sidney resident who was released with an order to stay away from the facility and a court appearance scheduled for January 2021.
“Even though a lot people don’t agree that the food bank should be around and all that, but but we don’t deserve to be sworn at,” she said. “Now that the COVID money has run out, people are coming back, who haven’t been here for a while. Our numbers are definitely going up.”
Some 200 people have already registered for Christmas hampers with three weeks left in the registration period. At the same time, the organization could not fundraise as much as in previous years. Last year, a fundraising concert featuring Barney Bentall raised $51,000 – funds not available this year.
The incident represents a low point of seven stressful months and only the latest in a number of confrontational incidents.
“We probably had five incidents, where we had to actually call the police,” Elder said. “There have been other cases where people are upset and you get sworn at and things like that.”
The Peninsula News Review has reached out to police for additional confirmation and will update this story accordingly.
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