The headlines say it all. Case counts. Death tolls. Unemployment numbers skyrocketing. Economic turmoil. With headlines like these, it is easy to become burdened and saddened by the news. Yet, in the midst of all this bad news, there are stories of positivity to lighten the weight of these heavier realities.
Over the past several weeks, I have sought to find the “good news” among all the pandemic stories. It isn’t easy – kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. But, I felt it was important to remind folks that in spite of the havoc this pandemic has wreaked on our state, and our nation, that there is an overwhelming sense of togetherness happening right here in our local communities. And, my bosses here in Legislative District 7 are shining examples of that.
Here are just some of the inspiring stories I’ve read about over the past few weeks:
Police and fire departments supporting their communities
Ensuring that children were food secure was a main priority when schools began to operate remotely last month. In Burlington City, the Police Department, school district and local officials worked in partnership to deliver meals to students demonstrating they are City Strong.
As first responders, the Mount Laurel Police Department knows firsthand the dangers of this pandemic. Yet, to show their appreciation for the healthcare workers battling this illness every day, they teamed up with local businesses - Ma & Pa’s Tex-Mex BBQ and On Angel’s Wings – to honor them with 100 hot meals.
In addition to police departments, our local fire departments also utilized a very important furry figure to spread some cheer to children in their towns. Fire companies in Delran, Palmyra, Riverton, Moorestown, Beverly and Cinnaminson had the Easter Bunny ride around on their truck to bring a smile to the kids’ faces.
Businesses feeding students, healthcare frontline workers
Small businesses are struggling and have had to adjust their business models to meet the new realities of this pandemic and the Governor’s Executive Orders. Installing plexiglass, wearing gloves and masks, adjusting to take-out and delivery orders only. Nick’s Pizza and Pasta in Cinnaminson is no exception. Yet, Nick and his team are giving back to those who are truly on the frontlines of this pandemic and donating dozens of pasta dinners and salads to Cooper University Hospital staff. Even more amazing and generous is that they plan to do this again.
They’re not alone. Eateries throughout Burlington County have been stepping up in a big way. Another example are Dave and Astrid Nistico, who own Vinny G’s Bagels & Deli in Florence. They have been opening their doors daily to feed breakfast and lunch to local students in need, in spite of the challenging times.
Residents giving back to small businesses
Realizing that small businesses and local restaurants are the backbone of their community, Bordentown City residents Rebecca Collins, Sarah McEwan and Sruti Desai found a creative way to help. The group is selling signs, t-shirts, and tote bags with the #BordentownStrong logo on them and portion of the sales will be donated to help these businesses stay afloat.
High school students stepping up to show appreciation and help others
Even our younger bosses are demonstrating community spirit. Burlington Township High School’s softball team showed appreciation for a former Falcon, who is a nurse working at Virtua Willingboro Hospital. The team sent pizzas for her and her entire nursing shift as a show of appreciation.
And, over in Cinnaminson, High School Senior Katharyn Mackiewicz continued to operate the school’s food pantry remotely from her home knowing that hunger doesn’t stop during a pandemic.
Entire communities helping their most vulnerable
Throughout Burlington County, people in our communities have banded together to help the elderly or those who are immune compromised and cannot run errands themselves. These “Neighbor Helping Neighbor” networks have been utilized in Cinnaminson, Moorestown and Mount Laurel and beyond to link up people who are homebound or unable to afford groceries with people in their towns who are willing to help.
These stories are a reminder that we’re truly in this together. And that even though the remote learning, working at home, and “stay at home” orders have kept us physically apart, we are still coming together as a community, as one citizenry. For the betterment of our neighbors. On behalf of the elderly and immune compromised. And to help strangers who we don’t even know. For me, these are the doses of positivity that can help us get through these difficult times, and I hope they help you too.
That’s my take, what’s yours?