The Seventy Mile Access Centre (SMAC) has temporarily closed its doors to the public due to COVID-19, but work continues behind the scenes to support the community.
SMAC spokesperson Kathleen Judd said a decision was made to close the centre to the public indefinitely because most of their volunteers are over 70 and they didn’t want to expose them to the virus. “We took a vote. It was better to be safe than sorry,” she said.
However, work continues to prepare weekly hampers for the centre’s eight regulars, collect new toys to deliver to the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre and put together Christmas baskets full of dry goods for at least 15 families, although Judd anticipates another 10 will likely be needed.
Volunteers are also gathering winter coats for the annual Coats for All campaign at St. Timothy’s Anglican Church in 100 Mile House. The coats can be picked up at the church from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Nov. 28 or at 100 Mile Food Bank, Loaves and Fishes and at the Canim Lake and Canoe Creek Bands.
“We’ve got a lot of people who can’t afford to go anywhere,” Judd said. “It’s kind of a sad time this year but we’re not going to give up, we’re going to keep going. It’s not an easy thing to know you have to have a contingency fund to get you through winter but we’re holding our own.”
The centre relies on donations of non-perishable food items and funding to buy gas and grocery coupons from the 70 Mile General Store to add to the weekly and Christmas hampers. Gas cards are also used to support those who need to make an emergency medical trip to Kamloops or Williams Lake.
Those wishing to donate dry goods, money or toys to the hampers or Christmas baskets are asked to call Judd ahead of time at 250-945-5325 or drop them at the 70 Mile General Store. They can also call Judd if they want to get some books or DVDs, she said.
The centre is planning to be open for one day only on Saturday, Dec. 12 – unless it is not permitted under the COVID regulations – to allow people to pick up their Christmas baskets or come in for DVDs or other items.
“We didn’t want to close it tight shut because 70 Mile and the surrounding area has nowhere else to go,” Judd said.