The Nanaimo Beacon’s Beacon Buddies program, meant to find volunteers to help with errands for self-isolating neighbours, signed up nearly 350 people on its first day Sunday. (Nanaimo Beacon image)

Nanaimo satire website connects community during COVID-19 pandemic

Nanaimo Beacon signs up more than 600 volunteers to help those who are self-isolating

The novel coronavirus is no joke.

Those behind the Nanaimo Beacon, a local satire website, went outside their usual mandate this past weekend to try to build community connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The website launched an initiative called Beacon Buddies, with a goal of connecting volunteers willing to run errands for neighbours who are in self-isolation or quarantine.

“There’s not a lot more behind this other than we just want to help,” the Nanaimo Beacon told the News Bulletin in an online interview. “We figure we’ve got a reasonably sized platform, so let’s do something good with it, instead of our usual mediocre, low-effort satire.”

Less than a day after publicizing the Beacon Buddies program, the site had signed up more than 600 volunteers from Duncan to Campbell River.

The program’s guidelines indicate that the self-isolating individuals should pre-pay for things like groceries and prescriptions, and suggests that volunteers should refuse to pick up “hoarding levels of supplies like toilet paper, bleach, sanitized wipes, etc.” The Beacon shared a few common-sense tips for meeting buddies, but said it will leave health-care advice to professionals.

The Beacon Buddies program is in line with B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie’s call last week for neighbours to help neighbours and try to ensure a support system for elderly British Columbians who may need extra help during the pandemic.

The Beacon usually sticks to satire; for example, last week it published a piece advising that Nanaimo’s annual Lick the Mayor event was being cancelled due to coronavirus fears.

“Once this crisis has passed, we hope to just go back to writing [crappy] jokes about the mayor’s muscles,” the Beacon said.

For more information about the Beacon Buddies program, click here.

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editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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