Each morning, I get a text message from my friend Stan Schneider. It is a simple message of “Good morning” or wishing me a good day, but the premise is so much more. During this time of shelter-in-place, many in our community are facing unprecedented feelings of isolation and depression. These simple acts of kindness can brighten what seems like a mundane existence.
From saying hello, to tipping an unseen bartender or surprise deliveries, friends across the region are helping to cheer up their neighbors through simple acts of kindness that are helping us all get through this unprecedented pandemic.
A couple in East Charlotte, who preferred to remain anonymous, started delivering boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to their friends in March. “My husband and I really enjoy hanging out with friends so we wanted to let them know we were thinking of them,” says half of this delivering duo. “Everyone loves Krispy Kreme, so we decided to buy six dozen and deliver them to our friends that also live over in East Charlotte.” The couple grabbed the doughnuts and headed out, leaving some on doorsteps and having short, socially-distanced get-togethers with others.
Two weeks later, they hit up five more houses. Many were friends they had met through involvement in the Charlotte Royals Rugby Football Club. Jeff Enochs, a member of the team, wrote on Facebook after his surprise delivery, “This was exactly what I needed today as I was feeling really low.” The couple have enjoyed seeing others pay it forward with their own “doughnut drops.” They say that they will probably keep doing it until it is safe to start having friends over again. They have also started delivering to friends in other cities through the company’s online delivery program.
A VIRTUAL TIP
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s March report, those working in the service industry, specifically in restaurants and bars, accounted for 60 percent, or 419,000, of the jobs cut during the month. These workers rely less on a paycheck every week and more on the tips that come from our dining out and entertainment that has come to a stop during shelter-in-place.
A group in Chattanooga, Tenn. launched a website to help. At ServiceIndustry.tips you can select a region, and you are presented with a “randomly selected neighbor who works in the service industry and where they work.” You can refresh the page to select a different individual or location, or just tip the first person that pops up. North Carolina has nine regions to pick from, including Charlotte, Gastonia, Greensboro, Greenville (Pitt County), Lake Norman, Moore County, Raleigh-Durham, Wilmington/New Hanover/Pender/Brunswick and Winston Salem. South Carolina areas include Rock Hill, York County, Greenville, Spartanburg, Columbia and four other regions along the coast.
So, next time you fix a drink yourself at home, or sit down to eat a meal, consider tipping a virtual bartender or server in our community to help them get through this difficult economic time. “This will not completely solve our neighbors’ financial challenges, but we have been told again and again by our server and bartender friends that it is a great morale booster to see a sign that someone cares,” states the group on its website. The list of workers includes everyone from front of house staff like bartenders and servers to exotic dancers, event production staff, and hotel cleaning crews.
DINNER FOR HEALTHCARE HEROES
Local attorney Candelario Saldana wanted to do more than just applaud for our local healthcare workers, so he launched Dinner for Healthcare Heroes, an effort to raise money and coordinate food to Atrium’s Medical Center staff in Charlotte. As of April 23, the campaign had sent 150 dinners and 50 desserts from POPLAR Tapas Restaurant & Bar and 75 lunches from Bagel Bin & Deli. On April 25 and 26, they planned to send 150 more dinners from POPLAR and 100 breakfast meals from Your Custom Catering & Events.
“When I say that together we make a difference I mean it,” wrote Saldana in a recent Facebook post with photos of the dozens of local citizens who have helped the initiative. Community group Queen City Prism and the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce are helping Saldana make the program a success and according to him, it is also helping local LGBTQ-owned restaurants stay open and people employed. They have currently raised over $6,500 through its gofundme.com page (search #DinnerForHealthcareHeroes).
Nate Turner, owner of Your Custom Catering & Events, is one of many volunteers helping to feed those in need during this pandemic. In a recent post on Facebook, Turner said, “I’ve volunteered at soup kitchens, food banks and resource centers before and never in my life have I seen something like this.”
People in the community have overwhelmingly donated food, toiletries and other essential items to Wedgewood Church, one of the city’s best-known LGBTQ-friendly congregations, near South Blvd. and Park Rd. Donations can be made daily between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. through a contactless drive-thru drop-off system, and the food pantry is open from 7-8 p.m. every Wednesday.
Turner is also part of the Lunch Is On Us initiative that has been providing meals Monday through Saturday from 1:30–2:30 p.m. at three distribution sites throughout Charlotte: St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, Sacred Souls Community Church and the South Tryon Community United Methodist Church since March, and has delivered meals to The Relatives Crisis Center and Time Out Youth Center since the pandemic began. The initiative is also heavily supported by the local Hearts Beat as One Foundation. It serves more than 400 children daily.
NODA’s MESSAGES OF HOPE
Finally, signs and chalk art have been popping up across the neighborhood of North Davidson, fondly known as NODA, since the beginning of the epidemic. The historic community is known for its art and hipster-rich bars and restaurants and encouraging diversity and promoting love for its neighbors. Resident Stacy Cole took notice of the kindness his neighbors were displaying. He said he had seen “a lot of random things from neighbors” including friends offering to pick up groceries, or making masks, and these encouraging signs on his regular walks.
One sign from a guy named Ian says “during these times if you need something like an errand run or are in a pinch, feel free to text me.” The handwritten sign includes a phone number and continues, “we’re in this together” also offering “socially distant beer” meetings. Another handmade sign saying “Everything will be ok” adorns the front fence of a home in the neighborhood and chalk art decorates the road outside NODA Company Store saying “can’t wait 2 CU.”
Whether it is a message of hope for all the world to see or a simple offering to someone in need, these acts of kindness all have one message in common. As Ian says, “we’re in this together” and our support of one another is the one true constant that will help us get through the pandemic.
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