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Our View: Plenty of people are stepping up; you can, too

Freeport Journal Standard

Thursday, March 26, 2020  |  Editorial  |  By The Editorial Board

Health (49)
Staying at home is the prudent course of action to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Yet we Americans are not used to responding to a national emergency by doing nothing. It’s in our nature to act and act decisively when things are not going well. People around the state have found a way to act and at the same time minimize their risk of contracting COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Their hearts are big and they want to help as many people as they can as we shelter in place. The Northwest Illinois Community Action Coalition, formed to help people in Rockford, Loves Park, Freeport, Roscoe, Rockton and East Dubuque, assists those who need help shopping, walking pets and taking them to the veterinarian, and picking up medication. The group is led by Freeport residents Carl Utt, Ed Klein and Jody Coss. In Springfield, the Springfield Families Helping Families Facebook page was started by Scott McFarland. McFarland, a member of the Springfield District 186 School Board and director of Illinois’ Commission on Volunteerism, saw Facebook as a way to connect people who wanted to help and those who need help. You don’t have to belong to an organized group to help. Rockford Register Star carrier Ken Bragg put notes in newspapers offering to shop and pick up food for the customers on his route. That’s an especially helpful service for elderly people who are not very mobile and fear getting sick. Many of you are understandably nervous about leaving the house no matter how good the intention. You don’t have to and you can still make a difference. A simple phone call to an elderly neighbor or a family member who is confined to a nursing home or an assisted living center can do wonders for their morale and yours. Let them know they are not alone. Another gesture you can offer from the safety of your home: Write thank-you notes. Remember those who deliver your mail, your packages and your newspaper. They are out there every day. If you are willing to venture out, offer to buy groceries for those who are shut in. Remember to wash your hands before and after your excursion. It’s also recommended that you wash the clothes you wore while you were shopping. It’s also a good time to reconnect with someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Friendship can continue even when we can’t interact on a face-to-face basis. Facetime, Zoom and other technologies can help you see the person you’re talking to and make it feel like a more intimate experience. Small businesses operate on tight profit margins in the best of times and these, obviously, are not the best of times. Consider ordering takeout or delivery from your favorite local restaurant. The Food and Drug Administration says there is no evidence that the virus can spread through food or food packaging. Please tip the delivery person well; it is a tough job. Still, we understand if you consider that a risk. Instead, order a gift card from one of those businesses that can be used once things return to normal. You can do that by phone or online and never have to leave the house. You’ll be helping local businesses when they need the business most and you’ll have something to look forward to so you can treat yourself. If you bought a ticket to a nonprofit theater production that was canceled, don’t ask for a refund; consider the ticket price a donation. Donations would be much appreciated by any church, charity or nonprofit that is struggling to make ends meet. Churches are empty and so are collection plates. Please send your weekly offering so churches can continue to do the good work they do, If you’re one of the fortunate ones who can still work and get paid during this crisis, consider donating to a nonprofit that you may not have donated to before. There are many needs in our communities and these entities work diligently to fulfill them. We’re sure you have ideas of your own. Stay safe. Keep your spirits up. We will get through this.