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Businesses, faith communities and nonprofits are keeping it together in Laurel at a time of social distancing

It’s hard to make this column about anything other than COVID-19 and its disruptions.

This time, though, leaves me — and I hope you — profoundly grateful to live in such a strong, vibrant community.

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Our governor and state officials have shown admirable leadership. Our city officials — from the mayor and city staff to our first responders — have worked hard to provide us with accurate, up-to-date information and excellent public services.

Our faith leaders have made tough but necessary decisions to protect public health through a suspension of services, while still caring for the flock entrusted to their care.

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The Rev. Sheila McJilton, the rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, has worked to help secure meals for low-income students out of school. The Rev. Anthony Lickteig, the pastor at St. Mary of the Mills Church, has been sharing his daily homilies online with the faithful, while parish staff have been calling to check in on elderly parishioners and continuing to distribute groceries to those in need.

Old Town residents have shared support online through a neighborhood listserv and Facebook group. Neighbors have been checking in on each other, and many have participated in social distancing-appropriate scavenger hunts for children in the neighborhood. If you live in the historic district but are not on the listserv and would like to be, please email me at marysullivan84@gmail.com and I will get you connected. The Facebook group can be found under “Oldtown Laurel.”

There are several ways to support our neighbors through this time. Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services, which was forced to postpone its inaugural Mission and Mimosas fundraiser scheduled for April 4, will continue to need donations for its food pantry.

Nonperishable food may be dropped off at LARS, 311 Laurel Ave., during business hours of Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Drive to the back parking lot and call the front desk at 301-776-0442 and someone can pick up donations from your car to minimize contact. Monetary donations, which will be especially important as job losses mount, may also be made online at laureladvocacy.org.

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Our Main Street restaurants can be supported through takeout and delivery service at this time. Please call ahead to phone in orders and confirm availability. Among local eateries available for takeout are: The Little Chickadee, 240-280-3848; Olive on Main, 240-280-8560; Tampico Grill, 301-490-5200; More than Java Café, 301-490-3200; Rise Up Nutrition, 240-294-8748; Ragamuffins Coffee House, 240-459-3659; Sip at C Street, 301-725-2746; Caribe Express, 301-498-8982; Red Hot & Blue, 301-953-1943.

The Laurel Museum — which one day may offer an exhibit that documents life during this time — is closed for now. The Laurel Historical Society was forced to postpone its annual gala, originally scheduled for April 4, to the fall. But the LHS is working to share interesting items from its collection. Visit the Laurel Historical Society Facebook page to see videos and learn about fascinating local stories.

If you have news to share or ideas about how our community can support each other during this time, please contact me and I will be happy to help get the word out. Take care during this time.

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