WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Essex County Mutual Aid (ECMA) group has formed a ‘greenhouse taskforce’ to assist migrant workers at local farms and greenhouses.

Over the last two months, the Essex County Mutual Aid Facebook group has grown to over 170 volunteers eager to help in any way they can.

At the start of the pandemic, many of the calls for help were seniors needing assistance for groceries. However, lately they’ve noticed a spike in requests from migrant workers, which prompted the formation of a volunteer group dedicated to them.

“We have to be able to see beyond our present condition, because what somebody else needs is going to be very different from your own,” said Brooke Dewhurst, ECMA founder.

Ariel Cruz, is a migrant worker from the Philippines who works as a produce inspector at a Kingsville farm. Cruz and the seven other migrant workers he houses with have been in lockdown for the last month.

“Our company decided we can not go out anymore because the risk of (COVID-19) infection from the people outside. I had no idea how we were going to get our groceries,” says Cruz.

That’s when ECMA volunteers stepped in to help.

“They set up a volunteer to help us with our groceries. Since then every week I’m emailing them for the list of our groceries and they deliver it to our house,” Cruz explains the delivery process.

“They are really heroes and we appreciate them.”

This week, the Windsor Essex County Health Unit reported 36 new cases of COVID-19 at local farms.

Cruz says his employer has implemented measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

“There are hand wash stations and sanitizers everywhere. There’s a mandatory facemask rule. So everyone is doing their part.”

Cruz’s family resides about two hours away from the Philippines’ capital of Manila. His hometown is under lockdown and many people have lost their jobs due to virus. Despite his less than ideal situation, Cruz feels grateful to be working during this time.

“I’m very thankful that I’m here in Canada when this thing happened because I can not imagine being someplace else.”

EMCA also offers information services for healthcare and government assistance, caring check-ins, childcare and beyond.

“It’s just the right thing to do, I’m doing what I can,” says Lisa Renaud, a volunteer with EMCA.

Interested volunteers or people needing assistance can contact EMCA’s Facebook group.