Across Canada, we’ve seen our communities come together more in the last few months than some of us have in our lifetimes.
So it makes sense that a local Canadian company built on community would be reaching out with new initiatives to help those in need right now.
Although MEC’s physical stores were temporarily closed during the onset of the pandemic, the company has been working hard behind the scenes to serve their customers online, implement safe policies in their newly reopened storefronts — and roll out a relief initiative for those who need it most right now.
The retail co-operative, which has been serving Canada’s outdoor community since 1971, recently announced that its Community Response will extend support to frontline workers and the outdoor community by selling Fair Trade non-surgical masks, starting an outdoor relief fund, and donating supplies to healthcare workers.
MEC’s CEO, Phil Arrata, says that the co-op will make an initial order of 10,000 adult and youth-sized non-surgical masks, with profits going directly to Canadian Red Cross. Masks will also be given to all MEC staffers free-of-charge.
“I’m proud of our MEC Label team who designed Canada’s first Fair Trade non-surgical mask, made with easy-to-clean, recycled fabric,” says Arrata. Masks will be available to buy in both reopened MEC stores and online, starting early June.
MEC created the Outdoor Partner Relief Fund to bring additional support to its non-profit partners during this time of need. MEC is calling on its members to help support trail organizations that are taking care of outdoor spaces that we need now more than ever. Funds raised will be directed immediately to trail organizations across the country.
“We may not be on the trails today, but together we can ensure that they will be there when we can head back outside. We know our members are eager to support the organizations and people that keep our trails safe and beautiful,” reads an open letter from Arrata to MEC members.
MEC has also announced it is supporting healthcare professionals by donating easy-to-clean duffels for midwives, Nuun hydration tablets, and headbands.
The Chaos tubular headbands were delivered to healthcare workers across Canada to prevent skin irritation and blisters when healthcare workers are wearing PPE for extended periods.
And as midwives are currently in high demand as mothers seek alternatives to hospital births, when MEC heard a callout from UBC’s Midwifery program for duffel bags that were easy to clean and could carry medical equipment, the company delivered its Outpost Duffle to all students of the program.
As for healthcare workers working long shifts, MEC partnered with Nuun to donate 15,000 hydration tablets to hospitals across both BC and Ontario to keep healthcare workers hydrated.
MEC’s Senior Community Manager, Diana Etherington, says that while these are hard times, it’s the challenges that shape us.
“We have strength and energy to draw on, and best of all, we’re a collective. Our shared resources built MEC, and now is the moment to use what we created to lend support to the larger community around us,” she says.
Arrata adds that the support seen through its online stores has been incredible — and the co-op is grateful for the community coming together. If you’ve ordered something online within the past few months, you might have even seen the handwritten thank-you notes and outdoor inspiration that some of the staff have included with the packages.
“Our store teams are awesome and we can’t wait to reopen more of our doors and welcome everyone back in a safe and responsible manner,” says Arrata.