Pumpkin carving, toy collecting and a holiday celebration.
These are some of the activities being planned by members of a regional organization whose goal is to help residents who still feel isolated by COVID-19 be connected with the community — and help others.
Tri-Cities United is running a series of seasonal events for a second straight year starting Friday (Oct. 22).
Vishad Deepaul is one of the group's four co-founders, along with Shawna Comey (Westcoast Family Centres), Genevieve Kyle-Lefebvre (ParentTalk Podcast) and Renata Steele (RE/MAX City Realty).
In an email to the Tri-City News, he states the pandemic may be "temporary" for many residents but for others, it means a smaller social circle or none at all.
"It’s important to understand that chronic loneliness can have a traumatic and lasting impact on your body and mind," Deepaul explains, noting the group's motto stands on three pillars: connection, unity and giving.
"As social beings, humans need connections with others. Without it, research has shown that loneliness can affect our physical and emotional health."
Deepaul says, in 2020, Tri-Cities United's initiatives helped feed hundreds of families through the fall and winter seasons thanks to multiple food drives and a partnership with the United Way of the Lower Mainland's food hub.
Bringing families together, even through a computer screen, has also been a result of the campaign, Deepaul adds.
This year, three free monthly events are being launched, including:
- Oct. 22: Annual Zoom Pumpkin Carving event
- Nov. 26: Tri-Cities United Community Champions Event
- Dec. 17: Tri-Cities United Holiday Zoom party
A month-long toy drive is also set to take place in December, with donations for the Westcoast Family Centres in Port Coquitlam.
For more information, or if you want to participate in any of the events, you're encouraged to join the Tri-Cities United Facebook page.