Good Deeds in the Time of Coronavirus
Ever since the novel coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China late last year, life in the United States and around the world has changed dramatically and in ways, few ever thought possible.
With millions sickened and tens-of-thousands dead across the globe, healthcare systems overburdened to the point of collapse, and the citizens of nearly 200 countries forced to shelter inside their homes indefinitely, hopelessness, and despair should be the order of the day.
Yet even amidst historic tragedy, people across the country and throughout the world are finding ways to come together, support each other, and give back to their communities in their time of need.
Gratitude for Essential Workers
Essential workers – from doctors, nurses, and first responders to farmers, truck drivers, grocery clerks, and mail carriers – have become the true heroes of this pandemic. Despite the threat of the virus and a shortage of masks and other protective equipment, these workers are showing up every day to care for the sick, stock store shelves, and keep the supply chain moving.
Fortunately, their contributions aren’t going unnoticed, as people from Lombardy, Italy to New York City are opening their windows every night to show these vital workers the gratitude they deserve.
But the expressions of appreciation have gone even further in recent weeks, with restaurants delivering free meals to beleaguered hospital staff; hotels offering complimentary rooms to healthcare workers who might otherwise expose their families to the potentially deadly virus; and both individuals and businesses donating essential supplies to help frontline workers stay safe on the job.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
The coronavirus has canceled plans for large weddings and other long-awaited celebrations. But while thousands have been forced to downsize their plans, good-hearted people across the country are turning out – while keeping social distance, of course – to cheer, shout congratulations, and create cherished memories for neighbors forced to scale back weddings, graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries.
Elsewhere, residents are lining the streets to welcome cancer survivors home from the hospital; organizing car parades and chalk walks to keep children entertained; and shopping and running other errands for those too vulnerable to venture outside their homes.
Combating Equipment Shortages
With healthcare workers in the United States and around the world struggling to cope with shortages of masks, hospital gowns, and other vital personal protective equipment, makers are taking a stand. Whether they’re using 3-D printers to construct face shields and ventilator valves or putting their sewing skills to work by fashioning masks and other protective gear, those with the know-how and equipment are stepping up to do what they can to help keep doctors, nurses and hospital staff safe from the coronavirus.
Reaching Out to Those in Isolation
Stay-at-home orders are taking a toll on everyone, but none more so than the elderly, disabled, and those with chronic conditions, many of whom were isolated even before the pandemic began. While it’s still too dangerous to visit these vulnerable individuals in their homes, concerned citizens everywhere are finding creative ways to reach out and ease their loneliness.
They include grade school students who’ve made “Get Well” cards for coronavirus victims recovering in quarantine; families who’ve visited elderly loved ones through nursing home windows; and the members of churches, synagogues, and mosques who’ve pulled together to deliver home-cooked meals, care packages, and spiritual sustenance to their oldest and most vulnerable congregants.
Supporting Laid Off & Furloughed Workers
Coronavirus shutdowns and closures have brought the specter of financial disaster to millions of Americans suddenly left without their jobs and income. But once again, their fellow citizens are stepping up to help where they can.
These helpers include high-profile members of the NBA, NHL, and MLB who’ve donated millions of dollars to support ushers and stadium vendors impacted by the cancellation of professional sports, to the everyday people keeping local food banks going with donations of cash and supplies.
Using Lemons to Make Lemonade
With community festivals and other large events canceled for the foreseeable future, organizers aren’t allowing large quantities of food meant to feed the anticipated crowds go to waste. Last month, for example, fully stocked and now unneeded refrigerated trucks previously destined for the 2020 Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio were rerouted to aid first responders and tornado victims in Nashville, Tennessee.
Meanwhile, countless meant for guests at now-canceled weddings, bar mitzvahs, and showers have instead gone to feed those in need.
Help Others, Help Yourself
Whether the recipients are first responders, healthcare workers, elderly shut-ins, or families left without a source of income, these and other acts of kindness have proven invaluable for those most impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic. But the givers are also helping themselves, as research shows people who place a high priority on reaching out during stressful times are likely to experience improvements in their own mental and physical health.
“It’s a way of reframing your existence,” bioethicist Stephen Post recently told Greater Good Magazine, “getting out from the negative vortex and feeling free to do something that is meaningful.”
No one currently alive has ever experienced anything close to a global pandemic. But in a survey of 4,500 Americans conducted roughly a year after the 2008 financial crises, 89% of respondents said helping others led to greater feelings of happiness. Nearly 80% reported that volunteering allowed them to better cope with their own disappointments and losses, while 3 out of 4 saw their efforts as a way to reduce their own stress.
“When people feel vulnerable, they can take their mind off the self and the problems of the self, and just experience the simple gratification of contributing to the life of another human being,” Post continued. “That’s how people were coping.”