Local cannabis company, Blue Cross create COVID kits for veterans

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A local cannabis company, with the help of Blue Cross, created COVID kits for Canadian veterans and then used all the proceeds from the sale of the kits to support various veterans’ organizations.

"We could not be happier with the results of this initiative,” said Justin Whitehall, founder and clinic director of Avail Cannabis, which has locations in both Orillia and Barrie. 

Overall, the initiative raised $13,000.

“We reached our internal goal of giving back $10,000 directly to veteran organizations and we were able to use the remaining funds to contract a world-renowned art therapist, Michael Buchert, to develop Canada's first cannabis art therapy program exclusively for military veterans.”

This program, called "arts of recovery," will provide veterans with the opportunity to join a free trauma-focused online art class which will be available locally in person and online across Canada, explained Whitehal

“They will gain access to free art supplies across Canada from our offices in Barrie and Orillia,” he noted.

Whitehall said Blue Cross covered up to $200 per COVID kit, which included things like sanitizer, face masks and other things.

Avail, which operates a veterans assistance clinic, purchased bulk personal protective equipment and supplies “so we could create a high profit margin and then we put 100% of the profits back into the $10,000 donation and the development of the art therapy program,” Whitehall explained.

He said Avail “created a special kit with all of these items with a thank you for your service note.” In total, 142 kits were distributed from the company’s Orillia and Barrie locations between April and September.

The majority of the kits were either picked up from their locations or shipped directly to the veterans’ homes. 

“We also dropped off a package of kits to the Barrie legion after they requested it,” said Whitehall.

The $10,000 was split between three groups: $2,500 went to The River Valley Resilience Retreat in Saskatchewan, a $5,000 sleep-in cabin was donated to the Hoggin Veterans Ranch in Caroline, AB and an additional $2,500 was donated to the Valhalla Project Niagara. 

The remaining $3,000 will be used to develop the art therapy program for veterans which will be available in person in Barrie or online across Canada. The program is expected to begin in January.

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