While bars and restaurants across Ottawa close to the public, one businessman is as busy as ever. As novel coronavirus concerns continue to grip the city, Abbis Mahmoud is doing what he can to continue to serve the capital’s most vulnerable. In fact, he’s prepared more than 2,000 COVID-19 care packages for those who need it most.

Earlier this week, the City of Ottawa issued a statement to all of the capital’s bar and restaurant owners, urging them to close their doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As most of the city’s public places closed, and the streets fell silent, one restaurant remained as busy as ever.

However, instead of the staff serving customers fresh food and cocktails, they’ve been creating special care packages for the city’s most vulnerable, to help them get through these challenging times.

Mahmoud, who owns The Waverley on Elgin Street, explained that closing his doors to the community was not an option.

Instead, he and his staff created Operation Ramzieh, which is named after the owner's mother.

The team started by calling local stores and suppliers and explaining their plan. From then, the donations and discounted supplies just kept coming.

Mahmoud, who owns five restaurants in Ottawa, told CTV News, “At first I thought we’d feed a thousand to 1,500 people if we got lucky.” 

He went on, “And today suppliers started showing up with all this food. Trucks and trucks of food, way more than we expected.”

Now, he thinks they’ll be able to create more than 2,000 packages, which will contain toilet paper, non-perishable food, drinking water, dairy products, and even fresh fruit.

In fact, the restaurant owner estimates that each box could feed a senior or vulnerable person for up to 12 days.

“We’re picking ourselves up, showing that support and being a part of the community,” he said.

For those in need of a care box, or for those who’d like to donate to the cause, Mahmoud has set up a dedicated website.

Their page explains, “If you know anyone that may be in need, be it family or neighbour, we want to help.”

“Please send us their address using the link below and we will ensure they’re taken care of, even if you’re not in the position to donate.”

For more information or to donate, you can visit their website.

Stay safe, Ottawa!

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