There is no doubt that we are living in a turbulent time. The global coronavirus pandemic has halted our daily schedules, turning active city centers into scenes out of a ghost town.
The virus presents to us a grim and uncertain future – but there is one silver lining shining through the chaos that need not be neglected.
In the midst of it all are individuals – ordinary people – and corporations around the world volunteering to help others, from making sure their fellow residents receive the essentials they need, to the simple yet uplifting community acts of singing from balconies or applauding healthcare workers.
Dozens of companies have voluntarily switched production to urgently needed medical supplies, from beauty chains producing hand sanitizer to clothing companies making face masks.
As the pandemic took a turn for the worse in the United States, people quickly mobilized to form coalitions of mutual aid through the use of shared Google documents and spreadsheets, quickly annotating the ways healthy volunteers can purchase groceries for the elderly and immunocompromised. Two young New York City residents amassed over a thousand volunteers within three days to do the same for their fellow residents.
What’s most striking about these examples is the speed at which people were willing to sacrifice their time, profits and potential well-being for the greater benefit of those around them.
Even locally, we can see this same spirit. Bendt Distilling Company, a distillery in Lewisville, began producing hand sanitizer a few weeks ago as a byproduct of the whiskey distillation process and handing out to customers for free. Overnight, it received hundreds of calls from first responders and hospitals running out of sanitizer. It is now donating the sanitizer it produces to Dallas County, which reached out to them as well, to handle the logistics of distribution to those most in need.
“We have been completely overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from the community,” said Bendt Distilling Co. founder/owner Natasha DeHart via email. “When we first started distributing hand cleaner to consumers, there were lines around the block each morning. People were so appreciative and it’s nice to be able to give back to the community and give them a little peace of mind, even during these scary times. We really can’t say how much we appreciate everybody that has helped and supported our efforts.”
Furthermore, the DFW Chinese American Epidemic Relief organization, with many of its members having seen how the virus affected their friends in family in China, raised more than $80,000 to donate surgical masks, face shields and gloves to local hospitals.
The rate of innovation taking place is also inspiring. In Italy, one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic, the 3D printing company Issinova rushed to design and print 100 valves for respirators in 24 hours for a hospital running dangerously low on supplies. The trend continues in America, as companies, university groups and individuals alike have formed a grassroots movement to 3D print personal protective equipment running short in supply. World leaders may be hesitant to collaborate, but the world’s scientists have embraced each others’ help in researching the coronavirus and come together to form a unified front of historic size.
At the very core of our efforts against the coronavirus are the medical professionals tirelessly fighting to save lives. As personal protective equipment supplies exist in currently insufficient amounts, many continue to work long, grueling hours at great personal risk.
The vast amount of volunteers, innovators, doctors and morale-boosters worldwide provides some solace in spite of a deluge of negative news, a sense of comradery in a new normal of social distancing. Crises push us to our limits, but also put the best in us on display. They shine a spotlight on the drive to help our neighbors and those in need echoed around the world that seems to spread and multiply almost as quickly as the coronavirus itself.
What this crisis will tell us, much like others before it, is when times get tough, the generosity and goodwill of the human spirit will always rise to the occasion.
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