'Our fridge was empty': Neighbours band together to help during COVID-19

COVID-19 is a time of physical distancing, but it's also a time of coming together as a community to support and help one another. And it's not all bad news out there.

Across the province, stories are surfacing about neighbourhoods banding together and individuals going the extra mile.  

Anita Dudisa and her family, who live in the Comox Valley, recently cut their trip to France short and returned home. They are self-isolating for 14 days. 

"Our fridge was empty — we were meant to be away for a month," she told Michelle Eliot, host of CBC's B.C. Today. "We had nothing when we got home."

Friends, family and neighbours leapt into action to bring over food and "keep us going," Dudisa said.  

"It's times like these when the closest people to us, our local community connections and relationships, matter the most," she said. 

"I've been so touched by the amount of people that have reached out to say 'Happy that you're back, do you need anything?'"

'I was quite teary'

Robin Stevenson, an author based on Vancouver Island, is having a similar experience. She was also traveling earlier in March and had to self-isolate upon return to Canada. 

"A couple days ago, I got a call from a friend saying 'I'm at your front door,'" Stevenson said. 

"I looked out the window — she had backed up to the sidewalk and had left seven bags of groceries on the front steps." 

That friend is part of a family of refugees from Syria that Stevenson and her family had helped sponsor to come to Canada in 2016. They now run a local grocery business. 

"They wanted to make sure we had enough to eat," she said. 

"It was incredibly kind and generous and I was quite teary."

Ben Nelms/CBC

Kevin McCort, CEO of the Vancouver Foundation, says delivering items to someone who is stuck at home is one of the most common ways he's seeing people helping each other.

"It's actually going to be more and more important that we identify our neighbours and help them out … to make that self isolation durable," he said. 

Along with reinforcing social connections online through video chats and other not-in-person contacts, McCort says community shows of support are crucial for combating a feeling of isolation. 

"We've been identifying isolation as an issue in Vancouver well before the current crisis and there's a lot of research that shows how loneliness is damaging to your health," he said.  

"We really need to put an extra effort to make sure people can get through this."