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Szymanski: Together, we will get through this coronavirus crisis

It seems in uncertain times we see the best and the worst in humans. But I am focusing on this: when times get rough, Americans come out of the woodwork and shine like diamonds.

On the Next Door Neighbor app, I see people here in the community of Silver Run and Union Mills reaching out with posts like this recent one, “If anyone needs food or supplies and can’t get out, I am willing to pick up and deliver items to your porch for you.”

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On the day that her dad was dropped off at Sinai Hospital for heart surgery, my daughter’s sweet childhood friend, Laura Crandell, sent something else along with him, over a dozen face masks she had sewn for staff. In the midst of her anxiety, she channeled her energy to do good for others. Instead of being frustrated that her dad had to be dropped at the front door, with no visitors allowed, she thought of others. And afterward, she went home to sew more.

Daily posts on social media offer lists of things to keep the kids entertained while they are at home. People are reaching out to others, offering hope and help. My favorite posts are those where an adult has videoed his or herself reading a favorite children’s picture book to kids stuck at home. I’ve even discovered new books to love.

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My daughter, Ashley, has discovered how to play games via Facetime with relatives and friends, and yesterday, she Skyped with the grandkids, who are — like kids across the nation — at home, with no school in session.

Laura said she is also grateful to be able to Skype with her dad in the hospital. Technology has made a huge difference in our lives, some good, some bad, but in this case … oh, so good!

Sadly, on top of the threat of contracting the coronavirus, some have forgotten their manners, or perhaps they never had them to begin with. Too many insist on ignoring the rules, going out in large groups, not keeping their distance, and taking chances on spreading the virus to the most vulnerable. Others are hoarding toilet paper and other items, without regard to the elderly and others in need.

My friend, Wendy, had a rough experience at the Dollar General store in her Pennsylvania neighborhood. She went into the store early in the morning, as that first hour was supposed to be reserved for seniors. Wendy was on a good deed mission, to get supplies for older friends who live in a subsidized high rise apartment in Baltimore, barely getting by. Wendy said the parking lot was full, and instead of seniors, the store was packed with people of all ages.

“The cashier told me last night a truck had arrived earlier, followed by a crowd who surrounded her and literally stampeded the back room, tearing at the boxes,” Wendy said. “When I got there the shelves were empty. She told me the employees were staying late to sanitize and stock what was left for the morning.”

Thankfully, I haven’t seen this in our neighborhood. My grocery stop has been to our local Brewer’s Market, and while it’s been busier than ever, everyone has been polite and patient and keeping the mandatory 6-foot separation in line. Wendy said, last week, a fist fight broke out in the meat section of her Walmart, and she’s seen arguments over toilet paper, with some stealing items out of other folks’ shopping carts. Sad.

I often call my miniature horses, “the therapy ponies” because that is just what they offer me. Sadly, those who board their horses are not getting the full benefit of therapy these days, as even boarding facilities have had to close their doors to visits from the horse owners. So many things in our world are changing.

Working for the newspaper, I get a first-hand view of the sheer number of events canceling daily. Most of these events are fundraisers for nonprofits in our community. Nonprofit organizations are so important.

The services they offer fill in the cracks, with essential services for low-income and homeless families to provide the help our government agencies can’t. Nonprofits vary greatly, offering services, food and care for pets and humans, scholarships for teens, veteran services, therapeutic riding, relationship education, transport to treatment for cancer patients and addicts, meals to shut-ins, wildlife rescue, and funding for so many other important needs. Without their fundraisers, they are hurting, and now, more than ever, it’s a great time to consider donating.

While you are hunkering down at home, I hope you are staying positive, reaching out to others by phone and social media, and finding ways to cope and survive. Use that extra time with the ones you love at home to do things you ordinarily wouldn’t have.

You can cook together, play games, write stories or make videos together, order seeds online and start a garden, do crafts or just share family photos and history. Think about your elderly neighbors and find a way to reach out. But most of all, stay safe and well. America is going to come out of this, and we will grow strong again. If only we stay positive and be there for each other.

Lois Szymanski writes from Westminster. Her Life & Times column, The Great Big World, appears every first, third and fifth Sunday. Email her at loisszymanski@hotmail.com.

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