Dragon Boat Festival turns its cancellation into pandemic-response support for Downtown Eastside

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      The dragon boats won't be speeding along False Creek this June, but the annual event has found a way to turn a cancellation into a chance to support the community during the pandemic.

      The Dragon Boat Festival has taken its excess of supplies acquired for the 2020 event, including 800 Clif Bars and 100 volunteer shirts, and provided them to the Downtown Eastside Supply Hub to repurpose and redistribute. Other donated items are bottled water from Nestle, reusable cups and protein shakes from Vega, and two industrial-sized fridges from Silver Chef, expanding donation capacity to include greater quantities of cold-storage goods.

      Part of the project is aimed at actually turning the T-shirts into protective masks. Dragon Boat BC has partnered with the Vancouver School Board District Fashion Program at Eric Hamber Secondary School, to get student and graduate volunteers to break down volunteer T-shirts into about 700 cloth masks.

      “By leveraging our partnerships and connections, we are privileged to have been able to help in the fight against COVID-19 – particularly in support of Vancouver’s most vulnerable populations, such as those in Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside,” Dominic Lai, development, marketing and operations director with Dragon Boat BC, said in the announcement today. “As part of the ancient Chinese rituals for the dragon boat festival, ceremonies were conducted to pray for diseases to quickly pass. Similarly, we hope that our contribution will convey our wishes for everyone to stay healthy and safe during these turbulent times.”

      DTES Supply Hub has been operating as the central location for nonprofits and organizations to help vulnerable residents during the pandemic.

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