Basic needs kits

United Way of Thunder Bay board president Kelly Gallagher, her daughter Katie Gallagher and Tbaytel president and chief executive officer Dan Topatigh fill basic need kits on Tuesday at the United Way of Thunder Bay office.

Eighteen months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Thunder Bay is still feeling the impacts in a high demand for social programs.

“When we started to address the immediate needs of the pandemic 18 months ago, we didn’t know it would be this long-lasting,” said Albert Brule, chief executive officer of United Way of Thunder Bay.

“We didn’t anticipate there would be variants. We are still wrestling with the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Partner agencies like food banks, feeding programs and shelters are still experiencing an increased demand.

“All the basic needs are still at all-time highs and we’re worried and want to make sure no need goes unmet,” said Brule.

On Tuesday, the United Way kicked off its fall fundraising campaign, Local Love in Action, with Show Your Local Love week, which runs until Friday.

The organization, which raises money for dozens of not-for-profit groups in the city, is asking community members to take action during this fall’s campaign.

That action can be a monetary donation or by volunteering or donating supplies for basic need kits the organization is creating. The kits include items Iike toothbrushes, shampoo, socks, and soap and will be delivered to vulnerable citizens.

A cash donation of $10 can pay for a basic hygiene kit.

During the campaign’s Local Love Day last year, Tbaytel started the day off with a commitment to match up to $10,000 in funds raised.

The local telecommunications company has made that same commitment this year.

President and chief executive officer Dan Topatigh said with 400 employees working in the city and throughout the region, it means something to give back to the community.

“The United Way is best suited to do that,” he said.

Supplies for basic needs kits can be dropped off at the United Way office at 715 Hewitson St. until Friday.

Donations to the campaign can be made at

Also taking place this month is the Dew Drop Inn and United Way’s Take Me Home Dinner on Sept. 28. A $15 take-home meal can be purchased with proceeds donated to the United Way. More details can be found at the United Way website.