The Scourge of Coronavirus Brings Out Bright Spots of Humanity

“Offer to help anyone you can. Not everyone has people to turn to.”

Rebecca Mehra speaking to CBS News affiliate KBNZCBS News/KBNZ

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The woman in her 80s was holed up in her car for 45 minutes outside an Oregon supermarket, waiting for the right person.

She cracked the window when Rebecca Mehra approached on March 11. Almost in tears, the woman in the car told Mehra that she was terrified of catching the coronavirus, that she and her husband next to her had no family nearby—and asked if Mehra could spare them the risk of stepping outside by accepting cash to buy groceries for them.

Mehra took a $100 bill and a grocery list from the woman, got the groceries (canned goods, toilet paper), put them in the trunk, and returned the change.

“Frankly most people I know would have done the same thing I did. I was just in the right place at the right time,” said Mehra, who spoke to CBS News affiliate KBNZ after more than 11 million people shared her story. In the days since, severe restrictions on public gatherings have hit almost everyone and everywhere, and reports of selfless acts of support and community care have grown.

“I know it’s a time of hysteria and nerves, but offer to help anyone you can,” particularly elderly individuals and families, wrote Mehra, a professional runner. “Not everyone has people to turn to.”

Here are more Recharge stories to get you through the week:

Pitching in. After a nationwide run emptied the shelves of hand sanitizer, several distilleries realized they had the equipment and the alcohol to make their own. As long as they weren’t making health claims or selling it, they could help. “Ultimately, I’m part of the community. I want my friends and neighbors to be happy and healthy,” said Jon Poteet, of Shine Distillery and Grill in Portland, Oregon. “I want to be in a healthy community, and it feels good to be able to give back.” So Poteet is bottling and giving away hand sanitizer to customers, as is a distillery in Indianapolis, among others. “This is a time for all of us to come together and combine our focused efforts to get COVID-19 under control,” said Travis Barnes, of Indiana’s Hotel Tango Distillery. (KPTV)

The spirit of service. When coronavirus concerns prompted the cancellation of a Minnesota bar mitzvah over the weekend, the family decided to honor its agreement with a small Hmong caterer. Instead of a big party, the family “delivered the food to friends in quarantine and sent pans home with others,” wrote Carin Mrotz, executive director of Jewish Community Action in St. Paul, Minnesota. More than half a million people liked Mrotz’s tweet, with many praising the humanity of the decision. “Am not Jewish,” wrote Ian Murphy, “but this makes me proud to be human. Mazel tov (hopefully appropriate)!” Several respondents also asked for more details on Union Hmong Kitchen, the caterer that has already been featured by NPR. “I will attest to the deliciousness,” Mrotz wrote. (Twitter)

Recharge salutes: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, beginning a series of “Songs of Comfort” to help people at this time; singer and actor Laura Benanti, who encouraged high schoolers to send videos of themselves singing their musical productions that have been canceled because of the pandemic; and the people of hard-hit Italy, shut in their homes but showing their solidarity by singing from the balconies in Siena, in Rome, in Florence, and elsewhere.

I’ll leave you with this video of Italian tenor Maurizio Marchini, who has serenaded Florence with Puccini’s Nessun Dorma. Please stay as safe and healthy as you can, and share your stories with us. Are you helping?

Nessun Dorma a Gavinana #iorestoacasa #forzaitalia #quarantena #coronavirus Maurizio Marchinihttps://www.facebook.com/mauriziomarchinitenore/

Posted by Chiara Bagnoli on Friday, March 13, 2020

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