In November 2021, British Columbia was hit with heavy rainfall and devastating floods. Communities across the province were displaced from their homes and in need of food and supplies. Kim Moran, Executive Director of community organization Hey Neighbour, stepped in to help right away.
Hey Neighbour is made up of friends, local businesses, faith groups and volunteers that band together to support communities in times of need. When the floods first hit, Kim and the team were in the process of doing a coat collection for the community but realized they had to do more. They shared an Instagram post requesting donations and sharing which items were most needed to assist flood victims.
“The Food Bank and Salvation Army both gave us lists of important donations for the affected communities, like warm socks, rain boots, baby supplies and more,” says Kim. That post was re-shared thousands of times, even by influencers like Jillian Harris, with people driving in truckloads of goods to their 2,000 square-foot office space. 30 to 40 volunteers worked together to sort through the donations and load them onto helicopters.
In Abbotsford, a local church printed out Hey Neighbour’s graphics and offered to host their own donation initiative, and Kim decided to make their resources—like PDF instructions and lists of needed goods—free and readily available for other cities to use.
By day two of their flood initiative, the donation areas had reached full capacity. Thankfully, a nearby church offered to store their donations in their warehouse space, which has now been transformed into a free store for flood victims.
“We meet with families affected by the floods, assess their needs and invite them to shop their store for free,” says Kim, “We then follow up with them in two weeks to see how they are doing and if they need anything else.”
Many of the store’s items are brand new with the tags still on them, donated by local businesses and brands. Our own team at Northbound Supply Co. was thrilled to donate shirts and clothing to the store.
Hey Neighbour was created in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, Kim and her friends saw people losing their jobs and businesses experiencing financial strain, and knew they wanted to help.
They asked neighbours if they wanted to help fill their local food bank so no one would go hungry. Kim and her friends bought and dropped off 5,000 paper bags, with a note attached that started with “Hey neighbour”, inviting their community to donate food.
When Kim and her friends went to pick up the bags, they were overflowing with donations. “We must have collected 20 bins full of food!” says Kim. What began as a local community initiative among friends has since become a nationwide effort to do good for others and give back, aptly named “Hey Neighbour.”
Since the pandemic, Kim and the Hey Neighbour team have rallied the community and cities across the country to support and give back to important causes, most recently to the BC floods.
“Every time we do something like this, we have been so overwhelmed at the response,” says Kim, “People want to do good for their community, but oftentimes they aren’t sure how. We’ve hopefully given them an opportunity to do so.”
For those unable to make it to Abbotsford or flood-affected areas, Hey Neighbour is accepting financial donations with a tax receipt. Alternatively, you can also purchase items from their online store that will be given to those in need, like tote bins for families who need to store retrieved items from their homes, or warm winter boots.
“Whenever we hear about a need, we rally the troops,” says the Hey Neighbour team, “We let people know how they can help and together we make a bigger difference than we could ever make on our own. We’re neighbours helping neighbours and together we’re bringing hope to every home.”