Students in the University of British Columbia Island Medical Program are stepping up to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From grocery shopping to sourcing personal protective equipment, the group is doing its part to help Vancouver Island’s most vulnerable.

Madelaine Beckett is one of the volunteer coordinators for the program. With so many aspiring medical professionals wanting to help the community, Beckett stepped up to organize their efforts.

“It really all came together very quickly and there was a lot of coincidence of being in the right place at the right time to get involved in a leadership position,” Beckett said.

For students who have relocated off of the island at the end of the school year, there are still many options to volunteer, either around their own community or remotely.

“I’m actually one of those students right now, so that’s one area where I’ve got gotten involved with the coordination. Emailing various public health agencies offering our assistance and then when requests for help come in, emailing the individual student volunteers and connecting them with opportunities,” Beckett said.

One of the main areas that students are volunteering in is the Bag Half Full program. Started at the University of Alberta, the program has spread from Edmonton to Victoria, Lethbridge and Ottawa. Caroline Spaner was one of the key organizers for the program.

“These are very very hard times, and it can be very scary for people and it can be quite overwhelming. So for us to have that opportunity to help lessen that burden. And it’s as simple as delivering groceries. We all go grocery shopping every day, so we now just go a little bit more,” Spaner said.

Cole Sorenson