How Calgarians Can Help Right Now

If you want to help Calgarians during the COVID-19 crisis but don’t know how, here are a few ways to lend a hand.

Exterior view of the mobile food grocer, photograph by Mariah Wilson.

For those of who aren’t sick or vulnerable, one of the hardest part of the COVID-19 crisis is feeling paralyzed. Many of us want to help out but aren’t sure how. Here are just a few ways you can support local arts organizations, charities, nonprofits/not-for-profits and businesses. By supporting them, you’re supporting your neighbours in Calgary.

Arts Organizations, Charities and Nonprofits/Not-For-Profits

The following organizations have either closed or are have expressed the need for support to maintain operations:

Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids

This charity ordinarily operates a kitchen and delivery service to get food to hungry kids in Calgary. This has been suspended due to the need to socially distance, so the organization is focusing on a response fund to buy and distribute grocery gift cards instead. You can donate online.

Calgary Foundation’s COVID-19 Charity List

The Calgary Foundation has created a list of local charities that have urgent financial needs in the wake of COVID-19. Each entry outlines a fundraising goal, what populations the organization serves and what specific initiatives they need help with.

Calgary Health Trust

The Calgary Health Trust is a charity in support of Foothills Medical Centre, Peter Lougheed Centre, Rockyview General Hospital, South Health Campus, 12 local Carewest care centres and numerous community health programs. It is accepting donations in order to help people receive the health care they need. The Calgary Health Trust is also a beneficiary of Airdrie-based apparel company Cedar Grip’s “Alberta Cares” t-shirt campaign.

Calgary Zoo

You know it, you love it and it needs your help right now. A temporary closure at the Calgary Zoo means it’s missing out on critical admissions revenue to support its animal care and future as a beloved cultural attraction for Calgarians of all ages. You can donate or purchase memberships now.

Canadian Blood Services

Our national blood bank needs extra help right now. It is still possible and safe to donate blood if you are healthy and don’t fall under mandatory isolation guidelines. If you cannot donate blood, consider making a monetary contribution. Head here and click on “ways to donate” for more information.

Children’s Cottage Society in Calgary (via Wee Wild Ones)

Children’s Cottage Society (CCS) has been preventing harm and neglect to children and building strong families through support services, respite programs and crisis nurseries since 1986. Right now, Wee Wild Ones (WWO), a nature-based child care centre, is running an item-based donation drive in support of them. Team members from WWO will collect both new and used items from CCS’s wish list — while used items are not being allowed by the CCS at this time, WWO is cleaning these with a commercial-grade system for when CCS can accept used goods. The wish list is here and you can in touch with WWO to come pick up your donation at

COVID-19 Community Response Fund

This United Way fund was developed in partnership with the City of Calgary in order to provide emergency financial aid to vulnerable Calgarians and the organizations that serve them.

Get Legal Information and Pass it On

Calgary’s Resolve Legal Group has a free, 24-hour hotline for legal information. If you or someone know have questions about applying for government assistance or other legal matters, call in and Resolve will clarify. Importantly, the firm does not offer advice, just the facts. The firm is not seeking volunteers or donations, so the “help” aspect here is spreading the word or reaching out on behalf of someone who is unable to do so.


Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta

This home-building charity was forced to close its ReStores due to COVID-19 and has since moved sales online. Calgary customers can shop on Instagram and Facebook by direct message (there are daily 11 a.m. live sales) while Medicine Hat customers can do the same at this Facebook page. ReStores carry new home decor items, appliances and renovation supplies at up to 80 per-cent off regular retail prices, and sales fund Habitat’s initiatives.

This volunteer organization is rallying to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline heath care workers. It”s doing this in two ways: a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to purchase N95 masks and surgical masks, and through a supply-donation campaign seeking both kinds of masks, sterile surgical gloves, disposable protective gowns, eye goggles, face shields, disinfectants and hand sanitizers. Volunteers are also sought to help mobilize supplies.

Highbanks Society

Highbanks offers affordable housing and a nurturing community where young mother-led families leaving situations of violence, poverty and abuse can learn and grow. The organization provides affordable, accessible and independent living accommodations, social services and life skills training — most of which has had to move online due to COVID-19. Highbanks is seeking monetary donations to support all initiatives and also gift cards for select businesses.

Leftovers Foundation and Fresh Routes

Food-rescuing charity Leftovers Foundation is accepting volunteers to help rescue and redistribute food, as well as food and financial donations. Fresh Routes (pictured in main image), is a separate organization but shares team members. The affordable mobile grocery store service is seeking financial donations and volunteers. This includes a GoFundMe in support of emergency food baskets for vulnerable people which will be delivered free of charge. Also, Fresh Routes is one of the beneficiaries of a fundraising t-shirt sales campaign by SophieGrace, Madame Premier and Mandy Stobo.;

Leighton Art Centre’s Art 4 Hearts

Long-running Foothills art institution Leighton Art Centre is looking for submissions for a campaign called Art 4 Hearts. Artists of all ages are asked to submit art cards with messages of hope and positivity to be delivered to seniors’ communities in Calgary and the Foothills. Submit a work of any medium on paper no larger than six inches by eight inches, write your message on the back and mail it into Leighton Art Centre. The centre’s first goal is to receive 235 cards by May 8. You can find more including the centre’s mailing address here.

National Music Centre

National Music Centre and all other Studio Bell tenants are closed to the public, including King Eddy, Rosso, CKUA and Alberta Music. Memberships to NMC cost $45 to $58 per person or $110 per family of four. If you already have one, consider gifting one or making a plain old donation.

Performing Arts Companies

A number of performing arts groups can be supported by refusing a refund on tickets to canceled shows, buying a gift certificate or making a donation. All Arts Commons resident companies, Calgary Opera, The Grand, Loose Moose Theatre Company, Pumphouse Theatre and Vertigo Theatre are all currently seeking support.

Read more: Support Calgary’s Theatre Companies By Donating Your Cancelled Show Ticket

Sled Island Music and Arts Festival

Registered charity and annual five-day music festival Sled Island announced its second-ever cancellation just seven years after the historic flood of 2013. The festival will return in 2021 and in the meantime is asking for support in a number of different ways. Passholders for 2020 can defer a refund in exchange for a pass good for the 2021 festival or donate the value of their pass, and everyone is welcome to make a standalone donation. For the month of April, donations made through ATB will be matched at 50 per cent by the financial institution.

Women in Need Society (WINS)

Women in Need Society (WINS) continues to serve its clients. It’s asking for Calgarians to make monetary donations and has requested that closed businesses donate any surplus cleaning and disinfecting supplies. Monetary donations can be made at its website and cleaning/disinfecting supplies can be dropped at any of its five thrift stores in Calgary.

Youth Singers of Calgary

Education and performing arts company Youth Singers of Calgary is losing out on at least $280,000 in revenue during the global pandemic. All its foreseeable performances are canceled and the Performing Arts Youth Centre it owns and operates is closed indefinitely. The organization is asking for donations to help it survive. Donations are eligible for a charitable tax receipt.


Local Businesses

Just because you can’t book a reservation at a restaurant or wander the aisles of a boutique, it doesn’t mean you can’t support the businesses that make Calgary a great place to live.

Order Takeout/Delivery or Purchased Prepared Takeout Meals

A huge number of Calgary restaurants have pivoted to focusing on pick-up and delivery options while their dining rooms are closed. Some have special limited-time menus and others will sell you wine or beer with your order. Check your faves’ social media accounts to see if they’re using third parties like Doordash or accepting direct orders, or simply scroll through our regularly-updated piece below. Ditto for heat-and-serve meals from delis, markets and other shops.

P.S. — Tips go a long way right now!

Read more: Calgary Restaurants Offering Takeout and/or Delivery; Where to Get Prepared Takeout Meals in Calgary

Buy a Gift Card

This one is simple: pay now, enjoy later. Get one for yourself or as a gift for someone else. Check websites or social media accounts of the stores and restaurants you care about to learn what’s available. For restaurants, check out the local directory Eat Later, a website created by a group of Calgary businesses. If you see one that’s missing, they will list it for you free of charge.

Friday Sock Co.

This local business run by Avenue Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2018 honouree Adam Thompson is offering both comic relief and charity during the pandemic. Its new socks depict toilet paper and hand sanitizer and all proceeds from sales go to Canadians food banks. Purchase online and they’ll be shipped to you by May 4.

Get Your Groceries Delivered

Mega-retailers, app-based delivery companies and an impressive number of locally owned and operated businesses are ready and waiting to bring you what you need. Of note, Calgary Co-op is delivering free care packages to those under Covid-19 quarantine in accordance with public health agency instruction until April 15. There’s also Inspired Go, a local meal-kit company offering him delivery .

Read more: Grocery Delivery Services in Calgary

Hire A Freelancer

When it comes to remote services, there are plenty of skilled freelancers in need of work to choose from. One place to find them is on the new platform Working From Space, which was created by Avenue contributor Kait Kucy and includes a number of other professionals we’ve worked with in the past. You can also post a specific job you need filled. There’s also Edad Jobs, a similar local directory that has now added volunteer work to its roster.;

Local Laundry

This clothing company is both promoting the act of supporting small business online and taking pre-orders on a hoodie in support of the aforementioned COVID-19 Community Response Fund. Named “The Healthcare,” the organic bamboo cotton zip-up sweater is made in Canada and all proceeds go directly to the fund.

Keep Up With Us

We will continue to update this article and produce more stories on how to support the Calgary community during this time. To keep up to date with what we’re working on, your best bets are to regularly check our homepage,, and subscribe to our newsletters: Food, Style and the Weekender. We also have an email hotline,, where you share ideas on how we can #SupportLocal through coverage.




Learn more about the people and organizations moving Calgary forward with Avenue's Innovation Newsletter.

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