For the Golden Sikh Temple members, the COVID-19 virus has provided them with an opportunity to give back to the community.
A handful of volunteers from the temple made a sizeable food donation to the Golden Food Bank this past week, dropping off dry goods such as pasta, flour, sugar and lentils to help support those who are in need.
“People are reacting to this situation differently and for me, I want to be out there helping,” said Baljit Bassi, who sits on the committee for the temple.
“I want to do whatever I can to make things easier and make people feel better.”
It’s an important time of year for the Sikh community, as Vaisakhi is typically celebrated in mid-April. A historic and religious festival, it is normally acknowledged with large celebrations and parades world wide.
With COVID-19, that hasn’t been possible this year.
According to Bassi, helping out in the community through monetary and food donations is also an important part of celebrating Vaisakhi, with the Golden Sikh Temple choosing to celebrate this year through their donation to the food bank.
“It’s hugely satisfying, people are stressed and it’s a way to make people feel better and feel good, because at least they can be sure that they’re eating well,” said Bassi.
“Especially East Indian communities who have a special need with different kinds of food.”
The donation actually came from Surrey, arriving over the weekend on a huge 53-foot trailer through a program organized by Sanjha TV, North America’s leading Punjabi TV Channel based out of Surrey.
Bassi, who is good friends with one of the program hosts, was contacted by the show when they had heard of the shortages in Golden’s grocery stores. With supplies at the temple dwindling, Bassi said they could use a couple bags of flour. Sonjha TV sent 100.
Bassi says the temple will be storing about half of what they received, with 25 per cent going to the food bank and the other 25 per cent going to different families in need, along with the food bank and women’s centre in Invermere.
“We had an abundance of supplies so I started reaching out to everyone to start sending them stuff,” said Bassi. “We’re just sharing it with everyone we can give it to.”
For Bassi, giving back to Golden is important. Having been with the temple for 10 years, she was there when the temple was really struggling with membership, creeping dangerously close to zero with a building in disrepair.
With the help of the community, the temple was able to fundraise to help fix up the building with the help of volunteers from across the province and even Alberta.
“It all started from here and this community. This is our way of giving back,” said Bassi.
“This is why we wanted to do this now when the community need it the most. If not now, when?”
The food, both at the food bank and at the temple, is accessible to all who are in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.