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Small kind acts amid a big crisis

A chalked sidewalk message: “Here comes the sun and I say it’s all right.” Pizza delivered anonymously to emergency room workers and firefighters. Bells rung in unison to help neighbors feel closer to one another. Red paper hearts displayed to demonstrate support for healthcare workers.

These and other numerous small signs of cheer, support and solidarity are helping residents throughout our communities get through these scary, trying times. The threat and spread of COVID-19 may have us in its grips, but the community is coming together in many ways to try to ensure we all have some bright spots in otherwise bleak days.

With children and many workers homebound, family members and friends isolated from one another, stress levels mounting over fears of falling ill or looming unemployment, family holiday celebrations threatened, travel scrapped and basic necessities such as eggs, meat and toilet paper in short supply, any bit of cheer is more than welcome.

Social media is the great connector, even more so during this crisis. On the social app Nextdoor, which connects neighbors according to geography, members are posting when stores have cleaning supplies and paper products available, suggesting people display teddy bears in house or car windows as part of a “bear hunt” game to help occupy bored children, offering to pick up prescriptions and groceries for those who can’t get out and stepping up to donate unused disposable gloves and protective masks to strained healthcare workers.

Many other individuals are quietly sewing protective masks, buying gift cards to support local businesses shuttered by the virus and robustly ordering takeout to buoy favorite local restaurants. New London City Council member Kevin Booker Jr. is offering to shop for any local senior citizen. Great Neck School teachers this week formed a noisy parade of honking automobiles winding through neighborhood streets and greeting their much-missed students.

On a bit larger scale, local fraternal organizations also are reaching out in distinct ways to help their communities. The Groton Rotary Club, for example, is organizing a volunteer corps to run errands and deliver food or medicine. In New London, the Rotary Club launched a special fundraising campaign and is ordering basic school supplies to fill 500 bags for the city’s schoolchildren.

We’ve all seen evidence of how the pandemic is bringing out the worst in some. Individuals are bragging on social media about ignoring orders to isolate. Videos of shoppers coming to blows with one another over packages of toilet paper are being widely circulated. A New London businesswoman trying to enforce social distancing among carryout food patrons was angrily accosted by a customer who took umbrage at the guidelines.

Such displays of selfishness thankfully do not appear to be dominant. Instead, most strangers are politely stepping aside to provide appropriate social distance as we all try to de-stress on long walks in our beautiful region that is now coming alive with spring flowers and warmer temperatures. One resident put an ice bucket of water for passing dogs beside the sidewalk. Another is promoting sharing selfies of individuals wearing Hawaiian shirts on Facebook. Still another promotes a daily buddy walk, complete with social distancing, at Harkness State Park.

All these small gestures are adding up to a lot of support, a lot of cheer. If we continue to pull together, while exercising appropriate social distancing, that is, it will ease everyone’s path through this pandemic.

Editor’s note: If you have a story about reaching out or about pulling together — even as we must keep our social distances — we’d love to hear it. You can email us at letters@theday.com, using up to 200 words. We’ll share your stories with other readers in our letters section. Just include your name, the town you live in, and a phone number in case we need to reach you. Kind acts, big and small, will help us all through this difficult time.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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