The flag outside Exeter Villa Retirement and Long-Term Care Home is at half mast Friday to honour the two residents claimed by COVID-19.

"Once it comes in, it’s not totally a shock, going through the normal process, that it would tend to go through the building," says Exeter Villa Administrator Erika King. 

Two thirds of the residents of Exeter Villa have contracted COVID-19 over the past couple weeks. That's 39 in total, including eight staff.

In an effort to support the home where her grandmother is a resident, Stacey Palen started a fundraiser to show the residents and staff that the community was behind them. 

"It started out as a really simple idea to collect some funds to give back to the staff and residents, to let them know that we were thinking of them," she says. 

Palen thought they might raise a few thousand dollars to buy some prepared meals for staff and residents, but in less than a week, the community has chipped in a whopping $16,500. 

"As I add up the totals each night, I’m blown away. My heart is overjoyed. I’m amazed," says Palen. 

Now that so much money has raised, Palen can offer more than just prepared meals for staff and residents. 

"Now we’re starting to look at larger purchases that will have a lasting impact. Things that staff can use and things that are going to improve resident activity," Palen says. 

The impromptu fundraiser is also raising spirits at Exeter Villa, as they try and contain a deadly virus that’s infected so many of their residents. 

"It’s meant the world to us. We knew the support was there, we feel it all the time. It’s just buoying us up. I couldn’t be more grateful," says King. 

While they hope they are reaching the end of their COVID-19 outbreak, Exeter Villa knows there is money in the bank, fuelling their efforts now, and for weeks to come. 

For more information on the Exeter Villa COVID Relief Fund, you can visit their website.