Kindness During the Pandemic #4

So much news is coming so fast, it seems that I feel like I’m falling way behind if I am just a little bit late in getting this out. So without any more preface, let’s get straight to the good things that are happening:

In many countries, people can be suspicious of refugees, so often that is based more in xenophobia – the fear of other than any reality. In fact, the reality is often quite the opposite. In Portugal, a Syrian refugee couple is preparing meals for health workers at their restaurant.

Meanwhile, “next door” in Spain, a taxi driver who had a reputation for taking patients to a hospital for free was surprised when the call he received from the hospital to pick up a patient turned out to be something different and unexpected.

Teachers and students often have a special relationship. To this day, over thirty years after I graduated I still am in touch with many of my teachers. One little girl was sad to have her birthday alone at home and so her teacher set up a Zoom call with her entire class to celebrate her birthday.

For a long time, Lesotho in Africa had no reported cases of COVID-19. This wasn’t, however, good news. They had no cases because they had no ability to test. A doctor there to do a study on HIV noticed this and set up a testing centre.

I’m seeing this so often – in small towns in particular. If a child is celebrating their birthday alone, first responders – police and fire personnel stop by to wish them a Happy Birthday.

In Karnataka, two brothers sold their land, worth Rs. 50 lakh (about $100,000 Canadian) so they could provide food for the poor and for people who lost their jobs.

In Ohio, USA the owner of several Subway sandwich shops, opened five stores and made 5,000 sandwiches to give to healthcare workers.

Muslim community organizations in Dallas, Texas USA worked together to make multiple donations to hospital workers including 1,500 meals and 1,000 boxes of sweets to hospital staff and then a few hours later, 1,000 face shields and 1,000 N95 surgical masks were delivered.

In California, USA, one man wakes up early and makes coffee to hand out his window (safely) to essential workers.

In Afghanistan, teenage girls are working together to build ventilators out of car parts. Ventilators are in very short supply there so every single one really counts.

In one school district in South Carolina, school buses are still running even though there are no students on them – only the principal and a few other workers. Now, they are being used to bring the free breakfasts and lunches that many students relied on when school was in session. For many students in the US and Canada are not able to get enough food at home so these meals are essential.

In a few cases, I’ve read stories of essential workers moving out of their homes and staying where they work. For example, in Sheffield, UK, care workers moved in to a dementia care home with the residents. In this way they could minimize the chance of the virus entering the building. This is a great idea and dramatically reduces the risk of infection as there is much less contact with the outside world.

But it’s not just old age homes doing this. Even critical factories are doing the same.

People are also caring lots more about small businesses, it seems. I admit that before the pandemic I often aimed for convenience over loyalty but when I see what our local businesses are doing for the community my mind has been changed. For example, our local pet food store is donating dented cans to those who can no longer afford to feed their pets and are even collecting money to create a “pet food bank” for those in need. Sometimes, though, people are helping even more directly like this kind person in Australia who left an envelope with $750 in it to support a local cafe.

In India, a group of motorcyclists is now regularly delivering food to graveyard workers in need.

Because we’re all socially distancing there’s a lot of anonymous kindness happening. As we all transition to wearing cloth masks outside the house some of us without sewing machines are struggling to find them. These people found a way to help:

Old age homes are a really difficult place to be right now. In our country some of the scariest outbreaks are happening there as not only does it spread quickly among residents, they are often among the most vulnerable to the virus. And so the response by most of these places is to tell all residents to stay alone in their rooms all day. No talking to other residents, no going out to watch TV have dinner with others, or relax in the lounge with a book. Though it’s understandably necessary the result is that there’s a whole segment of our population effectively in solitary confinement with no clear end in sight. In Amsterdam in at least one case someone is trying an innovative method for improving connection:

Last week I went downstairs to our building’s laundry room and there on the bulletin board was a kind note someone left – and it was so lovely to see that someone else, clearly affected by it, responded.

It wasn’t until I got back upstairs and showed Sage the photo that she recognized the handwriting. Our son left the original note. I was so happy and proud of him.

This entry’s thing that you can do is just that: Reach out to someone. You can do it anonymously like my son did, you can call a friend, you can host a videocall with friends and play games or talk about books as we sometimes do. Humans are a social species and isolation can be really difficult for some – especially those living alone. A quick call can mean a whole lot.

And if you have the time I’m going to share another opportunity for you to help bring some light in to an elderly person’s life. It’s so easy. Take out a piece of paper now. Draw a picture or write a note (or both), take a photo of it with your phone and follow the instructions below. It will, for sure, make someone’s day to know that someone is thinking of them – and especially from far away. This week alone this blog had visitors from thirteen different countries – imagine if letters came from all around the world. Here is more info:

The Stay Gold society is a group in Western Ontario that wants to bring joy to to seniors by visiting them, and bringing them gifts and letters. However, during the pandemic, long term care homes are closed. In fact, in many of them, residents aren’t even allowed out of their rooms for fear of spreading the virus. In several homes in the province, once the virus spread to the home, several seniors died. Even those who have relatives living nearby that want to see them can’t because of the risks. (A friend of mine took her children to visit her mother for Easter and they could only stand outside with hand-coloured signs sending good wishes and wave to grandma who looked out from the second floor window.

I can’t imagine the loneliness and fear people there are feeling right now. The Stay Gold Society is asking people to send letters (handwritten if possible) and artwork. It is incredibly simple. As they say on their page:

It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3: write (or draw), scan and send. 

  1. Write a letter and/or create a drawing or work of art. Letters can be addressed generally, i.e “Hello there,” or “Dear friend,”. Handwritten letters are preferred, however typed letters are also accepted. Be sure to use large printing.
  2. Scan your letters or artwork. We recommend using the Notes app scanning function if you can. Letters and artwork can also be photographed.
  3. Send your Virtual HappyMail  to emily@staygoldsociety.org

And here’s the amazing and inspiring part that I just found as I was looking for more details to share with you about this organization:

The founder of this organization. The person who cares so much about her elders and the one making this all possible is only sixteen years old. If there was ever an illustration of the importance of just doing something – trying to make a difference related to something you care about, it is this. If she can make a in matters that she cares about, so can you. And it can start with your writing a short letter from wherever you are, taking a photo and sending it on to Emily. And if she inspires you as much as she does me, be sure to tell her that.

12 thoughts on “Kindness During the Pandemic #4

  1. This is such a lovely post. It’s a great collection of stories of hope and positivity across the world. A small act of kindness can go a long way. We often think how/who will be impacted by what I do, it hardly matters but it actually does. Will send a note for the elderly at the email ID you mention. Will share it with friends too.

    1. I’m glad you liked it. Especially in times like now, stories like these make me think “What is our life *for*?” When we’re busy with our day to day life running all around the city (or the world!) we don’t always think. But now, I read stories like this and think “What is our own good fortune for if we don’t share it with others?” And of course as we’re all socially distancing, the next question is “How do we best share it?”

      I’m glad you’re going to write to them and share it. I’m going to send one today also. But I especially love that you’re sending one – it will be a delightful surprise and meaningful: “Someone on the other side of the world is thinking of me.” will be a beautiful thing to know.

      1. I just told my sister and she plans to send too. She says she will sketch 3-4 drawings and send them across. 🙂
        Thank you for providing this opportunity. Sometimes you don’t know what you can do and how you can do it.

  2. I just had a call from our senior center asking me to participate in a penpal exchange with a school child. Then I realized I was the senior citizen!! But I am thrilled to have the chance to encourage a child’s writing.

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