Displaying Humanity in a Crisis

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Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Sasnett / Arizona Daily Star

Steve Tracy, Thunder Canyon Brewery co-owner and brewer, fills up 16oz bottles of locally made hand sanitizer at Thunder Canyon Brewery, 220 E. Broadway Blvd., in Tucson, Ariz., on April 6, 2020.

by Kevin Hartung

We often overlook opportunities to reveal our humanitarian side to others. It may be hiding somewhere under the surface, but the coronavirus is bringing it out in many.

While many people reach out to family, friends, and neighbors, individuals are not the only ones to recognize the need and offer aid.

A March 16 article on BuzzFeed discussed that a program, No Kid Hungry, identified a problem and framed a solution.

The article stated that since the coronavirus has forced mass school closures across the country, millions of children are losing the daily meals they depend on. No Kid Hungry uses donations to send emergency grants to food banks and local community groups. It diverts resources to feed kids in communities where parents lack reserves for times of crisis. The organization also plans to ensure that families know how to find food while schools are closed and make sure kids get three meals a day.

RedbookMag.com offered “feel-good” stories about how individuals nationwide are doing acts of kindness to support others through this pandemic.

A Maryland neighborhood mom set up a table of bag lunches “for those who are hungry,” assuring that these “healthy snacks are made in a clean and sanitized kitchen.”

New York City citizens cheered the healthcare workers, doctors, nurses and paramedics, at 7 p.m. daily from rooftops and sidewalks for their tremendous efforts to provide safety and care.

Through the glass patio door of his neighbor’s home, a South Dakota math teacher helped his neighbor’s sixth-grader study a math lesson she could not understand.

A Four Seasons Hotel in New York offered free rooms to medical professionals to give them proximity to hospitals.

These national humanitarian efforts highlight our state and local efforts to reciprocate.

Gov. Doug Ducey in a live news feed on April 9 said that he and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman have announced a mobile hot-spot donation drive, so more Arizona students can get online and continue distance learning from home. 

Ducey stated, “To get things started, the State of Arizona has donated 200 mobile ‘hotspots’ for students in our rural areas.”  He also encouraged people who want to help to go online to AZTogether.org to donate.

Pima Community College set up a fund to grant to eligible students up to $400 in emergency funds (not for tuition or fees) for food and bills. The April 10 announcement stated that students need to be taking six college credit hours, or be enrolled at least half-time in a non-credit program, or be enrolled in a high school equivalency (GED) or basic skills or English language acquisition program.  The announcement says to contact virtualsupport@pima.edu to start an application process.

Restaurants like 5 Points Market and Restaurant promoted plans on social media for a GoFundMe account for their staff.  Besides ditching paper menus and using QR codes on the tables, they removed half the tables in their restaurant to accommodate social distancing. After the takeout-only mandate, they went to full curbside service and offered employees with cars a chance to continue working by making deliveries.  Another unique idea was to feed their employees with produce from the restaurant’s urban farm.

Doordash, a delivery service, temporarily nixed its commission fees to help out local restaurants. Other delivery services waived their delivery fees for customers.

Individuals found innovative ways to “visit” loved ones in nursing homes through drive-by visits, visits through glass windows, or distance visiting via the Internet. The nursing home staff helped elderly patients with little or no computer skills use the internet to stay in touch with family and friends. Some nursing home staff used cardboard cutouts to take amusing pictures of residents and sent those pics to families and friends.

Locally, PCC’s FashionArte found a unique way to carry out fundraising. They designed social distancing facial masks. For every donation of $25 to support the Fashion Program at PCC, the donor receives a designer facial mask.

A KGUN9.com news article dated April 7 stated that Thunder Canyon Brewery halted the production of alcoholic beverages and produces hand sanitizer amid the coronavirus pandemic. Owner Steven Tracy said from the moment he and his staff knew they could make hand sanitizer they got right to work. Tracy said he is partnering with Elgin Winery and Distillery in Elgin to produce even more hand sanitizer.

An AZCentral.com article dated March 31 and updated April 9 shared stories of humanitarian acts throughout Arizona.

The article stated that Gila River Gaming Enterprises received $60,00 worth of perishable food on April 7 and announced on April 9 they would donate the food back to the Gila River Indian Community elders and families.

A Phoenix teacher, Thea Crockett, created a map to help students find grab-and-go meals. Crockett said she felt the map was needed so students across the Metro Valley knew the nearest location where they could receive a meal. While there are many locations for students to receive meals, they are spread across the Valley. If a student does not attend the particular school where the meals are being distributed, they might not know where to go, she said. 

While these stories abound locally and nationally, it seems more important than ever for us to let our humanity shine through.  Sadly, as is often the case, the reverse also prevails during times like this.

At this time, some misinformed people find it necessary to lay the blame for the virus on individuals who have no connection to the outbreak or to countries around the world where the disease has spread. Frightened individuals choose to malign or threaten people of another nationality rather than see this as a time when the world must pull together.

We need to make sure we are not allowing ourselves to express unnecessary frustration, irritation, or anger directed at others. We cannot permit homophobia or racism to define us. If we see a need, we should attempt to fulfill it. We need to extend ourselves to offer kindness and understanding to classmates, family, friends, Tucsonans, and anyone with whom we connect.

These acts aren’t solely for the benefit of others. We feel better about ourselves and the world when we give in to the pull of our humanity.

The Redbook article makes it clear that stories like those of remarkable individuals and companies are going to “outshine the negative.” It advises us that when we are on social media and “feeling overwhelmed,” we should look for the inspiring stories about how people in our own communities are helping others. “Everyone’s message is simple — no matter the circumstances, whatever is going on, be kind and do your part because we’re in this together and this, too, shall pass.”

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