With the economic impacts of the pandemic hurting many of his friends and neighbours, Mark Neuman decided this was the ideal time to give back, so he dug deep and personally donated $20,000 to the Brockville & Area Food Bank.

"It was a personal thank you for the continued support of this great community," explained Neuman, a Desjardins Agent serving the Brockville area. "My wife Amy and I have been able to find the funds to make this happen. We want to see our community as a whole get through this and prosper in the future."

In thanking the Neumans for their generous donation, Food Bank manager Joanne Sytsma noted that the donation will cover a month's worth of food for those in need in the community.

Neuman isn't the only Desjardins Agent in Ontario stepping up to help the local community through this difficult time.

Kingsville Desjardins Agent Ian Murray along with his wife Kara and his team answered the call for help from Erie Shores HealthCare with a $7,500 donation to support local health-care professionals and to purchase equipment and technology for the local hospital.

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"Our doctors, nurses and other health-care workers are giving so much in the battle to contain the COVID-19 virus," said Murray. "It is so important that they have the equipment and the support they need to care for our community."

Murray donated an additional $2,500 to the Green Heart Lunch Club catering service, which is providing meals for health care workers and community food boxes for area residents who are in need.

Desjardins employees also giving back

Desjardins Ontario employees are also making their own individual contributions. A number have been using their spare time to sew protective masks, including Claims Advisor Cindy Hillier, who normally works in the Desjardins Aurora office.

Hillier has been spending her evenings and weekends on her sewing machine to produce masks for healthcare and other essential workers in her community. One of Cindy's managers, Coral Williamson-Fischer, and her daughters Rylee & Teagan are helping out by precutting material for the ties of the masks and many of Hiller's Desjardins colleagues have donated money to pay for the materials. To date, their combined efforts have resulted in more than 2000 masks for healthcare and frontline workers.

Hillier's Aurora co-worker Niro Simonpillai doesn't have sewing skills, so he's volunteering in another way - delivering lunches from Meals on Wheels to elderly and disabled residents in the community.

Other employees are also finding ways to thank local health care workers. Rosie Arjoon, a billing clerk from the Mississauga office, recently ordered hot lunches from a local restaurant for the staff in the Emergency Department at the Brampton Hospital. When the restaurant stepped up to provide the meals for free, Rosie and her family donated the money for the lunch directly to the hospital - essentially doubling the benefit.

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