21 Moving Photos of Kindness in the Time of Coronavirus
Tough times can truly bring out the best in people.
Simple acts of kindness can make a big difference
Life is challenging right now on every level. We're bouncing between fear, anxiety, and uncertainty as coronavirus disrupts our daily lives and poses a threat to ourselves and our loved ones. But despite all of this—or, perhaps, because of it—some people have been exhibiting extraordinary kindness, as well as creating a new sense of community. Neighbors are helping neighbors, doing what they can to make life a little easier for them or simply bring a smile to their faces. Some are going above and beyond for family members, while others are helping complete strangers, and those formerly content to stay on the sidelines are stepping up to pitch in. These stories will certainly warm your heart, and they also might inspire you to come up with your own ideas to make someone's day a little brighter.
Ending each day on a happy note
Last month, Chris and Kristine Munselle were scrolling through the community app NextDoor and noticed that their North Dallas neighbors were posting about teddy-bear walks and scavenger hunts—little things that could make people smile while everyone stayed appropriately socially distanced. That's when they got the idea to start virtual-caroling. A few days before a stay-at-home order was announced in the area, they practiced on their front porch while their four children played outside. Then they posted a few of their videos on NextDoor. The response for "The Quarantones" was overwhelming. "You are fantastic people!" wrote one neighbor. "This made my day!" said another.
Since then, the Munselles, who met in high school 22 years ago, have challenged themselves to sing and post one song a day on their YouTube channel. They welcome requests from neighbors through NextDoor and texts. "If it's an uplifting song that is semi-easy to learn in an hour, we play the requests," says Chris. Even after the shelter-in-place order is lifted, the couple plans to continue posting one or two songs each week. "We have had so much fun doing this," he explains. "We love that it is bringing joy and putting smiles on our neighbors' and friends' faces."
If you love this idea, check out these 17 virtual concerts and museums you can now see online.
Cheering up neighbors through art
Artist Dana Primrose Bloede was looking for a way to brighten her neighbors' days during this tough time. So, one morning, she set up a white folding table in front of her townhouse and laid out dozens of woodblock prints of original art that she had created in her home studio. Next to the mixed-media pieces— each of which was individually wrapped—she placed a sign that read: "Free Art (Take One)."
Throughout the day, from her second-story window, she watched joggers run by and then loop back and select one of the six-by-nine-inch pieces. Moms pushing their children in strollers stopped by the table and left with a print. Observing the six-foot rule, no one crowded the table. "Surprisingly, people were loving it even more than I imagined," says Bloede. "I was so happy to see people's excited reactions."
Brightening the neighborhood with balloon sculptures
Months after Christmas decorations were packed away, families across the United States reopened those boxes and decorated their homes with colorful lights to spread some much-needed cheer. Patty Jurgielewicz took a different approach by creating a balloon sculpture of three gremlins. Instead of displaying it in front of her rural home, she placed it at the end of her street with a sign that read: "Be Safe." Her next sculpture was a huge ice cream cone with sprinkles on top and a sign that read, "Have a sweet day." She makes new designs daily, replacing the one from the day before with a new one. On the rare days the balloons survive the cold and rain, she'll move the sculpture to the other end of the street so others in her Easton, Connecticut, neighborhood can enjoy it. "The response has been overwhelmingly unbelievable," says Jurgielewicz. "If I can bring a little bit of joy in these times, it's all been worth it."
Organizing locally prepared meals for health care workers
"When we love someone and want to express that, we cook for people," says Theresa Sullivan. Knowing that she couldn't provide home-cooked meals to all of the doctors and nurses battling coronavirus at her local hospital in Huntington, New York, she and her husband devised another plan based on that sentiment. They created the Facebook group, Huntington Hospital Meals to coordinate with local restaurants to deliver food to 45 departments within the hospital across four different shifts. To date, they have raised about $150,000 on their Facebook page, and various restaurants have served more than 10,000 meals to the hospital's staff.
Their project serves a second purpose, as well: to keep local restaurants in business. The response to their project has been infectious (in a good way). Since mid-March, the Sullivans have also helped people in other states start similar versions within their communities. In case you were wondering, this is how much coronavirus is costing the world (so far).
Celebrating the last day of chemo
Azure Miller started her breast-cancer journey in January 2019, and it was a tough road. To celebrate her last day of chemotherapy, her family and friends had planned a balloon launch at the hospital. When the order to practice social distancing went into effect, their plans changed, but not their eagerness to honor Miller's major milestone. Her mother and a few friends sent texts to close friends and neighbors, asking them to help them execute another plan.
On her way home from the hospital, the mom of three was greeted to a surprise: 40 cars lining her street in Overland Park, Kansas. Family and friends, all maintaining the six-foot social distancing guidelines, held signs, honked their horns, waved, and cheered. "I was absolutely overwhelmed with emotions and beyond grateful to be surprised by so many amazing friends and family," she says of that special moment. "I am humbled to have so many caring people in my life." Despite what's going on in the world right now, family and friends are among the wonderful things that will never be canceled.
Helping a parent fight loneliness
Four weeks into lockdown, when Katrina Kittle was on her daily phone call with her 78-year-old dad, she jokingly asked him: "Are you bored yet?" His answer broke her heart. "I'm lonely," he answered. Truman Kittle had lost his wife of 57 years in January and had moved to an independent-living apartment in Dayton, Ohio, a few weeks before the coronavirus outbreak. Shortly after his move, his community had gone into lockdown.
The day after that phone call, his daughter reached out to her friends and followers on Facebook. She asked them to send mail to her dad to boost his spirits. Within days, both close friends and people she barely knew responded with books, poems, lists of jokes, and funny cards. He has loved receiving these little tokens of kindness, and when he doesn't know the sender, he reaches out to his daughter to ask about the person. "Someday," she says, "I'll get to sit beside him and go through the pile together."
Here are more things you can do for your parents during coronavirus.
Providing relief to health care workers
Kelsey Brown was searching for a way to help during the coronavirus outbreak when a friend sent her a video about making ear savers. Inspired by another friend who worked in health care and had been getting migraines and raw ears from long hours of wearing a mask, Brown got to work. From her Pennsylvania home, she started transforming plastic folders and placements into comfort and relief for the health care workers. Using a Cricut machine, she makes adapters that keep the elastic from digging into the back of a wearer's ears. Sometimes she also adds inspirational words to them, she says, "so that when a patient sees the back of the nurse's head when they are leaving the room, they know to 'keep fighting!'"
So far, Brown has given away 200 ear guards at no charge and will continue to make and distribute them for free. Recently, she responded to more than 70 emails from Cricut users around the country who were eager to learn how to make them. She forwarded instructions and posted a video on Instagram to further explain the process.
If you're wondering what life on the front lines is like right now, check out this account from a respiratory therapist.
Making memories, one porch at a time
Before stay-at-home orders were issued in Green Bay, Wisconsin, photographer Rachael Phillips—donning a face mask and using a 70-200mm lens—captured images of families on their front porches while standing 20 feet away. The sessions were part of a national program called the "Front Steps Project." Started by two photographers in Massachusetts, the project's goal is "to highlight the faces of our community during a time when we might not see them in passing at the grocery store, coffee shop, on the train or at the gym."
It is also a way to help local community organizations. Phillips is one of the hundreds of photographers around the country donating their fees from each five-minute session to food pantries, shelters, and other nonprofits. When Phillips embarked on this project, she expected to raise a few hundred dollars for the Freedom House. Instead, she ended up photographing more than 100 families over three weeks and donated $2,000. She'll resume the portraits after the stay-at-home order is lifted. Learn these 10 expert tips for taking gorgeous family photos with kids.
Helping the homeless stay safe
We're constantly being reminded to wash our hands to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. But what about the homeless, who don't have regular access to water? Through his nonprofit, Love Beyond Walls, Terence Lester and his team of volunteers have been placing portable sinks throughout Atlanta, Georgia. They also clean all the units and refill them daily with water and soap. When they first started, the reaction was immediate. "People started washing their hands and expressed gratitude for this opportunity they haven't been given," Lester wrote on his blog. "Since handwashing is a requirement, this is our small effort to protect people experiencing homelessness." The group has raised funds for 30 sinks through its "Love Sinks In" campaign and hopes to install 100 around the city.