COVID-19 Update from United Way of KFL&A – February 16, 2021

Good afternoon! Hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend and you are finding ways to enjoy the snow!

In this month’s update you’ll learn about how your donations continue to impact the community throughout the pandemic and how those funds are being used to help the most vulnerable members. I’d also like to share some information about Pink Shirt Day (Feb. 24) and the second annual Tampon Tuesday donation drive coming up in March.

COVID-19 Response

Since the beginning of the pandemic United Way KFL&A has continued to work to find ways to develop collective and proactive approaches to the situation, working with agencies to ensure our community can continue to serve all residents, especially the most vulnerable.

The United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund was set up almost immediately and our community stepped up. Thanks to caring, supportive, and generous donors who saw the need, agencies and programs were able to adapt and respond quickly, helping community members in need. This included everything from funding cleaning supplies, PPE [personal protective equipment], additional staffing, and takeout containers to helping agencies with myriad technological demands and the enormous challenge of going virtual − and much more.

For a summary of all the funding and activity that took place in 2020 click here.

Below are some details of the issues we learned about over the past year:

  • We saw Food as the most urgent and fastest growing need. People accessing meal and food programs increased from 100 a day to over 1500 on any given day; and increase from five days a week to seven days a week. It was so critical to be able to support food and meal providers as they pivoted and started takeout programs instead of meals in house, providing PPEs, staffing (as volunteers were unable to help due to limited space or their own vulnerability), food containers, and, critically, food – as food donations were reduced dramatically.  Your support enabled us to help them out with no delay so agencies could provide meals and food service with no interruption
  • We also identified a growing need to support people who were homeless, and we were able to support shelters that needed to move to different locations to allow their clients to isolate remain safe in congregate settings. Again, providing food, PPEs and additional staffing was critical for them to remain open safely. We continue to struggle with finding resources to help people with the most severe addictions and mental health, especially during winter We are working closely with all levels of government, agencies and others in the community to find solutions and support.
  • Mental health has been on the rise.  Helping agencies adapt to offer virtual counselling was essential and this was started quickly. We recognized that they needed to offer services at no charge as many residents could no longer pay for counselling.  We have seen sexual assault and domestic violence calls rise and it was beneficial to be able to help these agencies with funding to eliminate waitlists. This has been so important, and we are learning of the need to support services for a growing number of people – especially children and youth – who are struggling with mental health.
  • Through our work this past year, we learned about seniors with low income and how much they struggle with being able to access healthy fresh food and groceries.  For those who could afford food, we were able to link them to agencies that helped deliver. However, additionally, we learned of a number of seniors struggling to feed themselves, the bulk of whom are over 68 years and 70% are female. Thanks to your early funding we were able to design a program with agencies and United Way volunteers to provide Seniors Food Boxes that are delivered by volunteer drivers once a month (we were doing twice a month but have had to reduce to once a month due to the volume of requests).  We have learned of seniors bursting into tears when they get their monthly box because they had not been able to buy fresh fruit or vegetables in a while and how grateful they were to be connected to volunteers by phone and in person when the boxes were delivered. Often this was the first time in a long while they had connected with someone.

We could not have worked on these issues or addressed some immediate urgent needs without your support. Please feel free to reach out if you would like any additional information and visit our grants page on our website for more details on funding for individual agencies.  

Pink Shirt Day – Kindness Unites Us

This year, Pink Shirt Day is February 24, 2021. This day encourages everyone to practice kindness and wear pink to symbolize that you do not tolerate bullying.

A movement celebrated across the globe, Pink Shirt Day has humble beginnings. Inspired by an act of kindness in small-town Nova Scotia, now the day brings awareness and raises funds for anti-bullying programs.

This Pink Shirt Day, the focus is on working together and treating others with dignity and respect. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all and shown the importance of helping one another and advocating for those who need it.

Last year and this year, United Way KFL&A created a Pink Shirt to help spread this message – many of you purchased shirts and we look forward to seeing them! No UW shirt? No problem, any pink will do and we look forward to seeing many in the community show off their pink shirts and their support. Tag United Way KFL&A on social media on Pink Shirt Day and help spread the message of kindness!

Tampon Tuesday

United Way KFL&A is excited to partner with Bell Media, national Tampon Tuesday partner, and local Labour partners for the second annual Tampon Tuesday collection drive in the region, following International Women’s Week.

Starting March 2 and running until March 16, 2021, community members are encouraged to donate pads, tampons, liners and other menstrual hygiene products. The donation drive aims to fill a gap in the Kingston Frontenac, Lennox & Addington area as we know that menstrual hygiene products are among the most requested items at local food banks and shelters, but the least donated.

In 2020, United Way KFL&A initiated the first Tampon Tuesday drive in this community. Over 45,000! hygiene products were donated and distributed to agencies and individuals in need in the community.

As with the coat drive this past fall, donations will be collected at locations across the region and then distributed to agencies. Please watch our website for more details about drop off locations in the weeks to come.

Thank you!!

Thank you! Your support continues to change the lives of so many impacted by this pandemic. Thank you for your continued. You can always stay up to date by following our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and of course, you can find videos at and regular updates on our website at

Take care. Stay safe and well!

Bhavana Varma
President & CEO | United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington

417 Bagot Street | Kingston, ON | K7K 3C1 |
T: 613-542-2674 Ext.1101 | C: 613-929-4828 | Direct: 613-542-4751 |

Previous Updates

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – December 15, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – November 30, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – November 17, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – October 26, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – October 5, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – September 21, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – September 8, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – August 24, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – July 27, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – July 6, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – June 23, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – June 8, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – May 25, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – May 11, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – April 27, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – April 14, 2020

United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Update – March 17, 2020