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Fiona McKean and Tobi Lütke invest $750,000 into local COVID-19 response


Since the impacts of COVID-19 began to affect our communities in March of 2020, people who were already experiencing hardships, like poverty, homelessness and social isolation, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Nearly one year later, social services are strained, and the most vulnerable in our communities are struggling more than ever before. 

To alleviate some of this hardship, United Way East Ontario, Ottawa Food Bank and Ottawa Community Foundation, who have coordinated their responses to the pandemic at the COVID-19 Community Response Table, will each receive $250,000 — for a total of $750,000 invested by Thistledown Foundation

“The social impacts of the pandemic will last far beyond when our population has been vaccinated. This generous investment from Thistledown Foundation will strengthen United Way’s “Local Love in a Global Crisis” COVID-19 response, which works to support isolated seniors and their caregivers, provide better access to mental health supports, enhance programming and virtual connections for kids who are disconnected from mentors and friends, and help frontline agencies and volunteers carry on their vital work.”

“The current pandemic has amplified several issues related to poverty and food insecurity in our city,” says Rachael Wilson, Interim CEO of the Ottawa Food Bank. “As highlighted in our COVID-19 Report: A Year of Crisis and Kindness, our food distribution is up by 34% across the city at this time. Gifts like this help us keep up with that demand while reminding us that there is incredible kindness during times of crisis. Everyone deserves to enjoy their favourite meal. We want to ensure that is possible for anyone who turns to their community food program.”

“On behalf of those working on the frontlines, we would like to express our sincere gratitude for this unexpected and thoughtful gift,” says Bibi Patel, Vice-President of the Ottawa Community Foundation. “While we responded, reached out to and supported the community from the very beginning of the pandemic last year, we know that the challenges continue to be as pressing as they were when this started. Through our Spring Grants cycle and other granting activities, this generous donation will be quickly deployed to continue to support the organizations working to buffer the impacts of the pandemic on those who are most vulnerable.”

There is much uncertainty around what the future will bring for charities and the social services sector that is integral to our community’s health and wellbeing. The needs continue to grow, while many people’s financial ability to donate has diminished or disappeared completely, and government funding expires this spring.

United Way East Ontario, Ottawa Food Bank and Ottawa Community Foundation continue to count on the generosity of donors like Thistledown Foundation in order to adapt to the changing needs in our communities, and keep frontline services stable.

For more information, please contact:

Hayley Robateau
Senior Manager, Public Relations, United Way East Ontario
613-898-6907 | 

Samantha Ingram
Communications Manager, Ottawa Food Bank
613-322-6367 | 

Bibi Patel
Vice President, Ottawa Community Foundation
613-236-1616 x226 | 




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