It gladdens my heart to hear so many of the folks in our South Shore communities are stepping up to help one another during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s one of the reasons I love living and working here.
For weeks now, women throughout the area have put their sewing skills to use to address the face-mask shortage by making hundreds of them for our senior living facilities, hospital admins, Sun City Center Emergency Squad and individuals who’ve requested them. There are too many of these good-hearted souls to mention by name, but each of them should know how grateful we are for their beneficence.
Then there are individuals like Kings Point resident Lucy Malacos. Normally, she’s busier than a one-armed paper hanger, volunteering as a tutor for at-risk boys, acting in Pelican Players productions, performing in its Caberet Singers group and painting for various fundraisers. With all of that currently on hold, she has baked more than five dozen loaves of bread for neighbors, friends and Kings Point residents in need.
Although I haven’t seen my pool-walking buddies, Don and Connie Smith, for some time now, they recently left me and my spouse a big bag of regular tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and about 15 or so handmade skewers of tomatoes, pickles, olives and cheese. We weren’t the only lucky recipients.
The Smiths purchased about 250 pounds of the veggies to give away to friends and neighbors, including older folks in the area who are shut ins. In addition to tomatoes, they ended up giving away about 400 vegetable and 100 fruit skewers.
As you might expect, but it’s nevertheless touching, churches are also adapting to the situation in unique ways.
For example, SeaGlass Church in Apollo Beach helped 50 kids in its children’s ministry celebrate Easter by surreptitiously hiding a dozen plastic eggs filled with individually wrapped candies around their front yards. One of the eggs was left candy-less to signify Christ’s empty tomb.
The spirit-filled Easter bunnies also left behind a “You’ve Been Egged” gift bag, filled with cookies in place of a traditional Easter basket. This endeavor was led by children’s ministry leader Mary Beth Machin.
The Firehouse Cultural Center may not be able to host its normal classes and events right now, but its staff has reached out to patrons in a number of ways. They mailed out art activity kits for kids, each one with 15 or more projects, including ideas for making puppets, fish mobiles, gator clackers, decorative headbands, music shakers, personalized postcards and more.
Folks who have taken the center’s painting classes received challenges to create artful postcards for mailing, while others enjoyed a virtual poetry workshop on Zoom.
The Firehouse has also posted online newsletters, e-blasts and videos of its previous live music shows for everyone to revisit and started a creative writing journal called “COVID Chronicles” to give folks an outlet to destress.
And South Shore businesses and organizations have also shared some love during these tough times.
Alpha Pizza, Pasta & Prime in Apollo Beach has reached out by giving away hundreds of care packages filled with produce and Easter baskets for kids two Saturdays in a row prior to Easter Sunday. The restaurant will have another produce giveaway this Saturday.
Lynne Conlan, of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce, made a commitment to buy takeout from all member restaurants and is making clever videos to encourage others to do so.
Melanie Davis and South Shore Helping Hands have collected 5,300 disposable diapers for migrant farmworkers in Wimauma. And every Friday for the past few weeks, Sun Towers residents have been entertained from the street below their balconies by area crooners like Matt Billor. Wish you could see them dancing on their patios.
I’m sure there are many other acts of kindness I haven’t yet heard about, but I felt the need to share with you those I have.
Let’s face it. It’s easy to get consumed by negative news about COVID-19 and become depressed by all the businesses that are closing, the folks who are losing their livelihoods and how our daily routines have been so disrupted.
BUT hang in there, people. Try to see all the good going on around us, and if you can, become part of it.
Even small things like making a call or sending a handwritten note or email just to check on someone’s well-being is so meaningful right now. This is especially true for those who are living alone.
The most important thing we have to share with one another is love, and we can do that no matter what’s going on at the moment. It’s the least we can do to help each other through these trying times.
Stay safe out there.
Lois Kindle is a freelance writer and columnist for The Observer News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.