If you're wondering how you can help others while still social distancing, this might be the answer. On Monday, March 30, the province announced a new online portal that lets businesses and individuals donate items and services during the COVID-19 crisis. You can list your offering and you will be contacted through the Alberta donation database when there's a need. 

The province asked on Twitter: "Are you wanting to offer support amid the COVID-19 pandemic?" If you are, you're in luck, because they've set up just the thing.

Anyone interested in providing a product or service can sign up through the new portal, linked in the same Twitter post. 

The government of Alberta has broken down the online portal into two areas: the Alberta Purchasing Connection (APC) and the Emergency Response Database. 

The Emergency Response Database allows volunteers to explain the kind of products and services they're willing to provide during an emergency. 

"Should there be an emergency requirement for your product or service, you will be contacted by a representative of the Government of Alberta," the webpage explains. 

All you need to do is specify whether you're donating as an individual or as a business.

Next, after filling in your name, email address, phone number, and website if you have one, you will write down whatever it is that you'd like to offer to your fellow Albertans. 

The form breaks down the items in categories, so if you have generators, forklifts, lighting, or signage to spare, you can type that in the "Equipment Offers" section. 

There are also sections listed for "Food and Water," "Human Resources," "Lodging/Facilities," "Materials, Supplies or Consumables," "Service," and "Transport."

So if you work for a church, hotel, or community centre, you can file under "Lodging/Facilities." If you have beds, blankets, or pet supplies to spare, "Materials, Supplies or Consumables" should be your pick. 

If you don't have items but plenty of time to offer, then you can sign up under "Human Resources," which covers volunteers, NGOs, and paid personnel. 

Volunteers signing up must consider the rules under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as well as the Records Management Regulation. 

The other part of this online portal focuses on public purchasing opportunities within the province. This tool "lets public and private sector users manage, advertise, distribute, and download public purchasing opportunities for goods, services, and construction in Alberta."

This means purchasers will be able to advertise opportunities and vendors will have a place to sell their products or services. 

It's no secret that individuals and businesses all across the province have been doing what they can to lend a helping hand during the pandemic.

Many businesses are changing their business models to suit the province's needs. For example, a number of Calgary breweries are now making hand sanitizer

Several grocery stores have initiated special shopping hours for seniors and other vulnerable populations.

Some restaurants are even giving free meals to healthcare workers. 

This new portal will work to consolidate all these individual efforts into one single database, so you can automatically be contacted in the time of need. 

Whether you've got something to give or you need a little support, now is the time and this is the place. 

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