As night fell on an empty downtown
On the other end was
“It leaves a hole in your heart,” Trapp said.
“That’s hard,” Martín said, nodding her head. “I’m really glad we can talk.”
The 18-year-old Martín and the 81-year-old Trapp had never met.
But the COVID-19 public health crisis has many Minnesotans rushing to do things they never expected to.
As the dangerous virus spreads, so too does a sudden, improvised and extraordinary outpouring of charity across
“It pulls at my heartstrings,” said
“The only way we’re going to get through this difficult time is if we all just help one person. Everyone needs to do one good thing for someone else.”
‘The nicest thing’
“Oh, my God, it was just the nicest thing anybody has ever done,” said
Babcock, who has served on the board of the local
“These businesses have always given to the community and helped everyone out, and now they need our help,” he said.
In the Hamline Midway neighborhood of
Now she’s heard that the idea is spreading.
“Everybody has a
Camplin, meanwhile, saw a Facebook post asking for help meeting the needs of seniors and signed up.
“You can imagine these people just fading away into the background, not getting the things they need,” she said, adding that she regrets that it took such a crisis to spur her volunteerism.
“Something about the situation made me spring into action, but I wish I had been aware and jumped a little bit earlier, that it didn’t take this to make me a good person,” she said.
“My goal is to keep going. I don’t want to jump in and be a fair-weather volunteer. I really intend to go beyond this crisis.”
Preppers jump in
U medical students
In just a few days, Shankar said, the organization has set up a website and is developing a smartphone app.
Shankar said the health care providers being helped by the students are mentors, role models, faculty and alumni of the U. They are basically people in the roles the students will soon fill themselves.
“We see ourselves reflected in the people we’re helping,” Shankar said. “People want to help. We’re really not doing anything dramatic or radical.”
Laakkonen pitched his idea on the Minnesota Preppers Facebook page and ended up starting the St. Cloud Prepper Pals, a grassroots organization that’s taking donations of essential foods, hygiene items and infant care supplies and making them available to people who don’t have the money or are unable to leave their homes to buy supplies themselves.
In just a few days, the group’s Facebook page has grown to more than 1,700 members.
Response was ‘humbling’
“A lot of times people would say things like, ‘It’s really bad if you’re old, but we’ll be fine,’?” the 30-year-old
He posted on Nextdoor, a social media site, asking for volunteers to do video chats with nursing home residents.
“The response was humbling,” Aizman recalled. “Every two minutes, it was, ‘I’m in.’?”
A friend referred him to
“When Ian reached out to me, I was like, ‘This is exactly what I want to be doing right now,’?” Polstein said. “It’s such a unique situation. We’re all in this together.”
On Thursday, Martín and Trapp had the first chat -- and Aizman has 80 more volunteers lined up. He’s calling it Virtual Visit Friend, and he hopes to continue after the crisis passes.
Though the pandemic is still in its early stages, many people are already thinking ahead to when it’s over, and hoping that a greater sense of community is part of the new normal.
“But my hope is that as we emerge from this, the responses that happened during the most critical part of the crisis will keep us grounded in our values and in our commitments to one another as a society more broadly.
“I think we’re being reminded of the deep necessity of relationships in this moment,” Masters added. “I hope we are able to hang onto that as we emerge into the new reality.”
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