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Looking for the Helpers: Everybody Doing Their Part

5 min read
Apr 17, 2020

If I’ve been reminded of any one thing during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, it’s that people are, for the most part, inherently good. It’s an important reminder during a difficult time.

Big businesses, like Ford and 3M, have been retooling their production lines to produce ventilators and personal protective equipment. Wealthy individuals, like Bill Gates, are using their resources to find a solution to COVID-19, even though he might lose billions of dollars in the process. Some, like Sara Blakely, are simply donating money or providing meals to those on the front lines.

But it’s happening at a more granular level, too.

Individuals, small businesses, and other organizations with limited resources are chipping in and doing their part to help others during the pandemic. Today, in the last part of this series, I’ll be looking at some of those. They’re doing the best with what they have and still having an enormous impact in their communities.

Sikh volunteers around the world deliver meals

Sikhs around the world have been volunteering their time and resources to prepare and deliver meals. The service targets those that are the most vulnerable to the virus, including the elderly and disabled.  

In New York City, Sikh volunteers have prepared, packaged, and delivered over 30,000 meals. The meals are vegetarian and include rice, lentils, and dried fruits. Strict sanitary measures are followed while preparing and packaging the food, and the delivery drivers are examined by doctors to ensure they don’t have COVID-19.

On the other side of the globe, in Australia, Sikh communities in Melbourne and Sydney are also delivering food and meals to those that need it. The group in Melbourne, Sikh Volunteers Australia, previously worked with business owners during the bushfire crisis that rocked the country in late 2019 and early 2020. Like now, they also provided food and meals then.

Volunteer truck driver, Amar Singh, said that helping the most vulnerable is the main priority, but they will help anyone who asks.

“The health directive of the mandatory 14-day self-isolation has left many people unable to provide for themselves,” Singh told Daily Mail Australia. “We don’t want anyone to miss out on essentials.”

Dama Kier sews masks for firefighters

Based in the Polish town of Myślenice, Dama Kier has stopped sewing women’s underwear and is now sewing masks for firefighters, among others. They have produced 1000s of masks already and will continue to produce more if they are able to obtain more medical-grade fabric. The charge for the masks is only what the fabric costs.

Dama Kier also combined forces with three other local companies, Sport Plus, As-Garnitex, and Wood-ZOO, to produce 20,000 reusable protective masks for residents of Myślenice. This action was triggered by the recent mandatory decree in Poland for everyone to cover their nose and mouth.

“After recognizing the need of making masks in accordance with the guidelines of the national consultant in the field of infectious diseases and situations related to the epidemic, we decided to buy protective masks that will go to those in need. The masks were sewn by local well-known companies,” Myślenice Mayor Jarosław Szlachetka said.

Although the masks may seem simple, there is more that goes behind their production than many realize.

“Some will say that this is just a mask, but to produce it you need to make a pattern, and then connect everything together: material, elastics, and wires,” Dama Kier Sales and Marketing Specialist Monika Funek told Dziennik Polski. “We are pleased with the feedback from our clients because they write to us from all over Poland. Thank you very much for that, just as we thank our seamstresses who come to work to sew masks. The same applies to those working in the cutting room.”

Kenyan landlord waives rent for tenants

Kenyan landlord Michael Munene told all of his 34 tenants that would not need to pay their March and April rent. The act of kindness was made because he understood the pandemic had put his tenants in a fragile financial situation. He also said he would rather see children being fed.

Munene owns 28 apartments and six commercial properties, so his generosity was extended to both families and businesses. Having been a renter in the past, Munene has known the helpless and desperate feeling that comes with being evicted. He didn’t want his tenants to go through that.

“They have been my tenants for a while, and the rent they pay has helped me do a lot of things," he told NTV. "So I decided this was the time to work with them and help each other."

This news article is the last of a set inspired by the late Fred Rogers, the iconic host of the child-friendly educational TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. While it was intended to offer comfort to children, it’s something that can serve all of us well right now.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.”

So I’ve been looking for the helpers. Of course, they’re easy to find in our healthcare workers, delivery drivers, postal service employees, and grocery store clerks. Employees in those fields have stepped up in a way that soothes the soul and offers faith and optimism in humanity. They’re true heroes.

It’s happening in the business world, too. This week, I looked at a few of those people, both well known and not, that are making important contributions.