Abbotsford citizens rally for struggling young family with donations amid pandemic

Expecting mother reached out online for help, community response brought her to tears

A young Abbotsford family received a huge outpouring of support from the community after they posted about their recent struggles online.

Emily Chandler, her husband and new daughter have fallen on hard times. They’ve recently moved back to Canada from the U.S., but were forced to leave an unsafe living situation, forfeiting a months rent and damage deposit in the process and leaving them with little money for groceries. Chandler also recently found out she has another baby on the way. To top it off, the world is in the middle of a pandemic.

“We spent everything we had moving into our new place at the beginning of March and left ourselves really struggling financially,” Chandler said. We’ve never had anything so extreme happen. We’ve always struggled, and there hasn’t been a lot of support, but I’ve never reached out to the community.”

The family tried to go to a local food bank, but unexpectedly lost half of their food hamper after trying to switch out items that Chandler can’t eat because of a severe soy allergy. She made a post to complain on Abbotsford Rants and Raves, a local community Facebook group.

“Immediately, [the response] was people offering, ‘What can I do for you? I have these things. How can I get them to you? How can we help?’” Chandler said. “I didn’t expect it. All I did was complain and there as this huge outpouring of kindness. It was amazing to see and I never thought that would happen.

“The community is amazing.”

Member of the Facebook group started a separate group-chat and started co-ordinating with each other on how to help the family. Over 10 complete strangers organized e-transfers for groceries, worked out who would do the shopping, the delivery, and also rounded up their non-perishable food and hygiene products to give away.

Suman Kainth and her husband were designated as the grocery shoppers, and a food fund of $160 was put together. They ended up almost doubling the grocery bill with their own money, “just to do our little part, that’s all.”

“I actually honestly wanted to give her whatever we could. For her to be in that position, she’s pregnant and has a little child, and they had just moved in,” Kainth said. “While we were shopping, we were concerned that people may be looking at us and judging us because our buggy was so full.”

Rachel Mundell went through all her cupboards to find things to give away to the family, and topped the collection off with an entire frozen chicken.

“I’ve just always been the type of person to give a helping hand,” Mundell said. “Because I’ve been in that position before.”

Paul Goodwin collected donated food from others in the group and delivered it to the family. He said his children are the same age as the young parents, and would hope others would do the same for his kids.

“This is a young family trying to start out, and here with this pandemic, it sounds like they’ve having nothing but bad luck” Goodwin said. “They were extremely thankful, I mean, it was kind of humbling.

“I just wish we were able to help everyone in need. I’m sure she is only one of many stories like that.”

With the family stocked up on groceries, Chandler said she has endless gratitude for everyone who helped them gain some stability.

“I can’t describe how much this helps my family, and how much we thank all of these people,” she said. “It seems like they are doing this with a lot of other people in the community as well. That’s such a beautiful thing.”

RELATED: Signs of support to be posted on grounds of local hospitals

RELATED: Abbotsford restaurants handing out 150 free lunches daily


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