Neighbors become the good in their communities amid chaos
Now that COVID-19 has arrived in our region, schools have closed, employees are working from home and our elderly endure days of loneliness. Yet people across Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties are finding ways to help one another out and turn a dour situation into opportunities for kindness.
Neighborhoods across the Chesapeake region are finding unique ways of showing compassion during this time of uncertainty. Residents quickly took to social media to offer up help delivering supplies, toiletries and groceries to neighbors who didn’t want to venture out themselves.
Ryan and Diane Mould are usually busy selling crabs and oysters this time of year. Yet the couple posted online that they were offering up free white perch to those in need. “It is times like this that we really need to stick together and South County has had a plethora of tragedies lately. We want people to know they are not alone and we all care,” said Diane. “We want to help our community.”
In Tracy’s Landing, an elementary school began asking for donations for non-perishable food items for their backpack buddy program on the same day it was announced that Maryland schools would close for two weeks. Jennifer Weaver posted to an online Facebook group that the school received so many donations they had enough to pass along: “Our community is AMAZING. Tracey’s has more than enough donations and is now directing the rest of the donations to SCAN (South County Assistance Network) at St. James Parish—they will likely see a rise in the need for donations.”
The county quickly stepped in to help feed Anne Arundel’s children. All students, ages two to 18, in Anne Arundel County can now pick up breakfast, lunch and dinner at 52 locations. There are 31 public school sites that will serve from noon to 12:30pm Monday through Friday plus 21 additional sites serving mobile meals at specified times. The meals are free and available to all students. Note that adults cannot accept meals on behalf of children.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools say they are prepared to serve 390,000 meals over the next ten school days.
In Calvert County, The Department of Child Nutrition’s distribution of free grab-n-go lunches is available to any children ages four to18, regardless of where they live or attend school. Those sites are: Chesapeake Ranch Estates, White Sands, and Prince Frederick.
For those who cannot make it to those locations, End Hunger In Calvert County, working through local food pantry partners, is distributing a free four-day supply of breakfasts and lunches. Kid’s Kits are available at The Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry in Huntingtown and Helping Hands Food Pantry in New Life Calvert Church. Kids Kits contain milk, cereal, fruit, ravioli, beans and franks, beef stew, beef lasagna, granola bars and goldfish crackers. Neighbors are encouraged to donate food items and also to pick up kits to distribute within their communities.
Many parents found themselves suddenly scrambling for child care when schools were closed. Several area child centers came to the rescue.
The Polymath Place in Deale decided to start their camp schedule early, opening their doors for children who were suddenly without a place to go.
And then the news got even better, says owner Kate King. “I have to give a shout out to our SoCo community. We will be operating at a camp day schedule for families who need somewhere safe to put their kids while they work and we received calls, emails and texts from people asking to sponsor or help out with child care costs to ensure everyone who needs us could come (as long as we still have space of course). Our community is awesome and I hope we can continue to be here!”
The faith communities are uniting as well in the face of COVID-19. Many churches now offer live streaming. David Merrill with Woods Memorial Presbyterian in Severna Park reports that the worship team, pastor and music leader held Sunday services in an empty church that was live-streamed to the congregation online. Merrill says the church is “working to provide people a sense of normalcy. People are looking for that.”
In Shady Side, Centenary UMC’s parking lot became the site of “the Word, Prayer and Blessing-to-Go” for congregations from Mt. Harmony UMC, St. Matthews UMC, Franklin UMC and Mt. Zion UMC needing a more personal connection. The Rev. Faith Wilkerson tallied “22 people and a dog,” in the drive-thru service with the Rev. Marvin Wamble and minister Jackie Waymire also administering prayers and words of encouragement.
Catholics can participate in Mass online at www.catcholictv.org/masses/catholictv-mass and the Ladies of Charity food drive and food pantry will still accept and distribute groceries at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in North Beach.
Bay Weekly will continue to take note of these acts of kindness happening daily around the Bay region, we hope you will continue to share your experiences with us, as well.