We are in pretty scary times, and there seems to be no real end date — but there are real, bright lights in the dark. People are willing to band together to help each other, and some of the best things businesses and people are during the coronavirus outbreak will motivate you to be more kind, too.
Beyond Disney putting Frozen 2 on Disney+ three months early (omg thank you), there are many businesses both big and small, as well as individuals out there, going above and beyond to make things during this crisis just a little bit better. There are restaurants giving away free meals, teachers creating free classes, and meditation apps going fully free to help ease the frazzled nerves of people everywhere. Even major publications like The Lancet are making COVID-related content completely free with no paywall. It's just really heartening to see how when things get bad, people are genuinely good.
It reminds me a lot of what I saw in New York City after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy — the best of people emerges when the going gets tough. It makes you truly grateful for the good in people. Mr. Rogers said, "Look for the helpers," and well, readers, they are all around us. Here are just a few that we've noticed so far — we'll be adding to this list each day.
1. Good Word Brewing & Public House Is Really Good
In a Facebook post, Duluth, Georgia's Good Word Brewing and Public House announced that:
"We are offering two soups today, a chicken noodle soup and a veggie noodle soup. These are both free and available to go only.
We are also offering gift cards and trying to crowler some Never Sleep.
Our neighbors from Maple Street Biscuits are bringing biscuits by to give away to people.
Our neighbors Phoenix Roasters are bringing coffee and lemonade.
All food is free but PLEASE let’s not turn this into a party or any sort of large gathering."
Beer and good tidings? Yes, please.
2. Illustrator Steve Ellis To Hold Free Art Lessons
Steve Ellis, who has drawn for the likes of Marvel and DC Comics and is the illustrator of the popular graphic novel The Only Living Boy is holding free "Monster Art School With Steve Ellis" art classes on his Facebook page from 2:45 p.m. for young students and from 3:00-3:45 p.m. for more advanced students.
3. U-Haul Is Giving Away Free Storage For Displaced College Students
U-Haul is offering 30 days of free storage for displaced college students during the Coronavirus outbreak. President John “JT” Taylor, noted in a press release, “We don’t know how every student is affected. But we know they are affected... More and more universities are giving instructions to leave campus and go home. Students and their parents are in need of moving and storage solutions. We have the expertise and network to help, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
4. The Metropolitan Opera Is Streaming Free Operas
If you go to MetOpera.org, you'll be able to stream beautiful operas from the comfort (or confines, as it were) of your very own home.
5. A Student Makes A Free Delivery Service For The Elderly
CNN reported that college honor student, Jayde Powell, is a "shopping angel" and that she has a growing legion of other angels who provide free delivery of groceries for those who need it. She said that she started "Shopping Angels" with about 20 members of her Phi Delta Epsilon sorority, but when need grew, she reached out to other students, and then through social media. And soon after that, she had her army.
6. Neighborhood Hunt
As reported by my sister, Emily, in her neighborhood in the Merriman Valley suburb of Akron, Ohio, homeowners and renters are putting shamrocks in their windows for kids in the neighborhood to go "shamrock hunting" while they're on their social distancing walks. Some neighborhoods are also doing "bear hunts" with teddy bears in the window.
Guaranteed my sister's shamrock has pictures of all three of her pets inside of it.
7. Free Lunches For Kids
El Rodeo restaurant in Columbus, Ohio is giving away 50 free lunches per day for kids in Ohio's free or reduced lunch program. If you live in the Columbus area, you can support them by ordering curbside takeout.
Yesterday, I had a grocery delivery. I talked briefly to the delivery driver (whose wife is a nurse at a major hospital here). He said that while it's been busy, his tips have been way up. This is wonderful. If you can give extra — do.
9. Ryan Reynolds & Blake Lively Donating $1 Million
Posting this on his Instagram, Ryan Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively shared that they will be donating $1 million to American and Canadian food banks. Also, he got a dig in on Hugh Jackman, so it made it even better. In the caption, Reynolds wrote "I think we can all agree, Covid-19 is an a*shole. If you’re able to help, visit @feedingamerica and @foodbankscanada."
10. Live Stream Concerts
Everyone from John Legend to Chris Martin (and more every day) have been live streaming concerts for free from their home noted the Hollywood Reporter. It's been a joy to listen to.
11. Free Internet For School Kids
Internet companies across the country, like Altice and Spectrum, are offering free internet services to school kids so that they might keep up their studies during this uncertain time. (I received no fewer than five emails from my kids' schools alerting me to this.)
12. Uber Delivering Free Meals To Healthcare Workers
Uber is committed to delivering 300,000 free meals to healthcare workers working on the front lines to battle the Coronavirus, reported CNBC.
14. Donovan Mitchell Gives Away Free Lunches
WCHS-TV reported that Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz will be subsidizing as many as 10,000 meals per day to Utah students in need. He said, "My mom’s career in education made me value children and the importance of academics, and I want to make sure that kids can continue to eat a meal while they can’t go to school."
15. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Offers Free Biology Classes
Ohio has been way ahead on this, and further cementing that is the fact that the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will be hosting a daily class on live stream at 11 a.m..
I grew up going to this zoo, and it is truly a midwestern gem. I can't wait to have my kids log on.
16. Gucci Osteria’s Massimo Bottura Offers Free Virtual Cooking Classes
17. Free Online Fitness Classes
18. Free Conferencing For Kids
Forbes has reported that Zoom, the videoconferencing software that has helped many of my coworkers see my dog's cute face and my cat's butt up-close-and-personal, is giving away its software for students and schools in K-12.
19. A Sweet Gesture From An Assistant Principal Who Misses Her Students
Sent to me by the parent of a student in the school, Assistant Principal Jill Kropa of Nora Elementary School in Indianapolis, Indiana is writing letters to her beloved students.
Are you weeping yet? I know I am.
20. A DC Distillery Is Giving Away Free Hand Sanitizer
The distillery is giving away hand sanitizer made with high-grade alcohol (with enough proof to kill germs). The DC-based distillery happens to make my very favorite apple brandy, so if you're in the area, have a bottle of brandy (or rye or vodka) delivered to you, and get a bottle of sanitizer with it.
21. Covering Arena Workers' Pay
Kevin Love, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Zion Williamson are some of the many NBA stars who are helping to pay the wages of furloughed arena employees who lost income due to the NBA games suspension, noted ABC News.
22. A Shop In Scotland Giving Away Free Supplies To The Elderly
A corner store in Scotland, owned by local heroes Asiyah and Jawad Javed, has been giving out free masks and cleaning supplies to elderly customers, noted The Independent. They told the paper, “I feel it is not fair on elderly people, some can’t get out the house. We are delivering 30 packages to a care home where there are 30 people living, and we’ve got another couple of hundred in the shop."
23. A Pod With A Cause
Comedian, author, and expert at working from home Sara Benincasa will be launching a podcast with the aim to help all of us cope with our own mental health and strategic struggles — all while showing up for nonprofits in need.
24. Authors Adapt--Giving Signed Books To Healthcare Workers
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, former biomedical researcher and bestselling author Penny Reid tells Romper that she was full of restless energy, knowing what was likely about to hit the healthcare system. "I was having difficulty concentrating because I felt I hadn't done anything meaningful to show my solidarity and gratitude," she says. When she found a post by a nurse friend of hers, who was rereading a favorite book, she decided to start the "Authors Adopt" program, which pairs authors willing to send (for free) signed copies of their books to healthcare workers. So far 900 authors have signed up to donate 2600 books across a broad swath of genres.
It should be noted that in times of trouble, Reid is always at the forefront of "the helpers" — her Dear Professor series has raised $50k for College Track and the Hispanic Federation.
25. A One-Woman Delivery Service
During the COVID-19 crisis, distance runner CC Rowe of Austin, Texas started using her time on-foot to deliver goods to her neighbors, KUT radio reports. Utilizing her neighborhood's "Buy Nothing" group, she is bringing goods like hand sanitizer and masks to those who need it most, and who have a hard time getting around. She's like a modern day Hermes in a pair of running sneakers in place of winged sandals.
This is going to be a long haul, friends. Let us all be the best, most charitable versions of ourselves when we are able. Let us regroup, be kind to ourselves, and find the love for each other. The world can be scary, but it can also be beautiful.
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If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.