VANCOUVER -- As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, both social and traditional media are rife with stories of price-gouging, hoarding and empty shelves, with in-demand products like masks, gloves and hand sanitizer always in short supply.

This is not one of those stories.

A Vancouver Island pharmacy spent the weekend giving out free hand sanitizer to anyone who brought a bottle to fill.

Fort Royal Pharmacy in Victoria set up a pump station outside its store Saturday, filling bottles with the 80-per-cent-alcohol solution while maintaining physical distance from the customers soliciting it.

"Because we are in a community that there is a lot of elderly people, for people to be sanitizing all the time, it actually makes it a lot better for those older people to stay safe," said Kelsey Johnston, one of the pharmacy employees handing out the sanitizer on Saturday.

To be clear, the BC Centre for Disease Control says sanitizing solutions are not a substitute for hand-washing. While solutions with more than 60 per cent alcohol kill many bacteria and viruses, they don't clean soiled hands in the way soap and water do. They are considered a useful alternative when soap and water aren't available.

"When I'm out and I leave a store, I sanitize my hands," said one woman who was stocking up at Fort Royal Pharmacy on Saturday. "Then, I really, really wash them - sometimes twice - when I get home."

Other customers expressed their delight at being able to get a product for free that is often marked-up or sold out.

"They're very, very, very grateful," Johnston said. "And that makes us completely happy as a small local business. They're quite amazed why we're doing this, and like we say, we just want to help out our community in this time of need."

On Sunday, Fort Royal Pharmacy set up its hand sanitizer stand at Hillside Centre between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., offering free hand sanitizer to shoppers while supplies remained.