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Five Ways Communities are Giving Back to One Another During the Coronavirus

Alyssa Klier

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A lady in a blue facemask, and a blue face shield wearing a grey shirt, is one of many healthcare workers working hard to save lives.

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The Coronavirus is happening to everyone across the world. Everyone’s daily lives are being altered by the virus.

Throughout the world, people remain on lockdowns or stay at home orders. Borders, schools, restaurants, and many businesses are closed. Economies are shutting down.

Unemployment rates are high. People are fearful of their own and their loved ones’ health. Healthcare and essential workers are working copious amounts of hours to keep our society and world afloat.

This time can be scary and unsettling for many people because the degree of uncertainty apparent is foreign to us. 

With the prolific amount of uncertainty, people can find commonalities. We are all humans living and trying to just keep hanging in there through these times.

People around the world have united to support and help one another. Despite the different statuses that people hold, people have found ways to connect and help. 

People who are strangers to one another have reached out a helping hand to communities. There have been many uplifting stories that have emerged that emphasize the goodness in this world despite the current circumstances. 

The Coronavirus has proven that solidarity, generosity, and helping out are contagious forces that bind humans together.

A young boy with short brown hair wearing a dark green boy scouts uniform sits at his desk in his house.

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1. Boy Scout 3-D Printed Earguards for Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers are heroes. They have been working countless hours and long shifts to help treat people during this pandemic. Healthcare workers have to wear protective gear like masks, gloves, and gowns to keep themselves protected from the contagious virus. 

People around the world now have also been advised to wear masks in public as a safety measure. As a result, masks have been a liability due to their demand.

Healthcare workers spend their whole days wearing masks. After a result, they end up their days with facial bruises or cuts on their ears due to the pressure of the protective gear.

A Canadian 13-year-old boy scout decided that he wanted to help health workers. He designed ear guards that could be made with his 3-d printer.

The guard connects to the masks of healthcare workers. The guard elevates the masks so that it does not touch healthcare workers’ ears, therefore alleviating cuts. This boy scout has made 1,300 ear guards that he has donated to local healthcare workers. 

His mother made a post on social media that went viral. This post contained what the boy scout was doing and gave access to anyone on how to make and replicate these guards. After this viral attention, an additional 2,000 guards were made and donated to Canadian hospitals for healthcare workers to wear. Healthcare workers have expressed gratitude for this boy scout giving back to them generously.

2. High Schooler Makes Coronavirus Tracking Website

There has been a copious amount of news about the Coronavirus on every platform possible. Oftentimes, this serves as overwhelming to a majority of people.

How do people know which articles to look at? What sources are the most credible and least biased? What are the real statistics and updates of the pandemic? Is the information accurate? 

A seventeen-year-old recognized these concerns and decided to make a website. The website, Ncov2019.live, aims to track and update viewers on Coronavirus news. The site is coded as a place to put all of the Coronavirus information together in an accessible and accurate way.

First, it tracks data from various sources. These sources include the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and health departments in one’s geographic location.

Second, the site aims to avoid misinformation. It updates automatically every ten minutes on facts including confirmed cases, deaths, people recovered, and countries where Coronavirus is confirmed. This site has been viewed by millions of people.

The seventeen-year-old often works six hours a day on his site and has been commended on all of his work. He has given back to the community by giving people consistent and up to date information.

A young brunette lady wearing a white mask and white shirt picks out an orange at the grocery store.Source:

3. Tyler Perry Pays For Seniors’ Groceries

Senior citizens and people who are immunocompromised are at a higher risk of contracting the Coronavirus. Many grocery stores have recognized the danger and they have implemented an hour where only seniors can shop before the store opens to the public.  

Tyler Perry took it upon himself to pay for the groceries of seniors in Atlanta and New Orleans. He paid for groceries at 44 Krogers and 29 Winn-Dixie overall in these two locations. Atlanta and New Orleans hold significance to the actor’s life.

He both started his career and grew up in the locations Atlanta and New Orleans respectively. 

It was reported that Perry also contributed $21,000 in tips to out of work servers in Atlanta. Many people have tweeted about Perry’s gracious contribution. They have expressed a copious amount of gratitude for his generosity of giving back to themselves, family members, and their respective communities.

4. Teacher in the UK Walks 5 Miles to Deliver Students Free Meals

The Coronavirus has significantly highlighted the inequalities apparent within the food system in place. Many families are struggling to feed themselves and in particular their children. 

Many children depend on free lunches or meal plans in schools to have their meals. Additionally, many food banks are having difficulty balancing their supply with the demand of people who need food. 

Food banks only have so much food and right now fewer people are donating due to financial constraints. Further, more people are demanding food besides people who already had been doing so due to cut hours of employment and more family financial obligations. 

A teacher in the UK has recognized this dilemma. To ensure that his students get their meals, he walks five miles a day to deliver free meals at their homes. The students come from low-income with minimal resources. They would go hungry without the support of the teacher.

Many of the parents of these students are essential workers who are out of the house for many hours. Delivering the meals meant that these children were granted daily with proper nutrition and that they were able to stay inside. Additionally, the teacher was able to check on these students’ wellbeing from afar to maintain social distancing measures. 

This teacher stressed the importance of taking care of all children even if they are not physically at school. His actions highlighted the importance of ensuring child safety for students of various upbringings. This teacher gave back to his students in a way that ensured proper health and safety recommendations.

5. Anonymous Donor Donates Gift Cards to All Citizens of Iowan Town

Smaller towns in the United States have been having trouble fueling their local economies. These towns only have so many jobs that are essential due to the lack of shops. In one of the small Iowa towns, an anonymous donor decided to donate gift cards to all 549 residents in this town. 

In this specific town, there is one grocery store and two food places. The anonymous donor divided evenly the amount of money in gift cards between the three stores. 

The goal of this was to help fuel the local economy, precisely by contributing $82,350  spent amongst the 1,647 gift cards distributed. Each household received $150 in gift cards with a note saying that it was not a scam. 

The note also said if the household did not want the cards they could call the city hall to pass them along to others in need. The gift cards fostered a sense of giving back because 50 families gave them back for families more in need.

The gift cards inspired the citizens of this town to make a difference and help their community. They expressed extreme gratitude for the anonymous donor as well.

Good news during the pandemic is contagious but often overlooked. Often, the media tends to focus on the negatives of the pandemic. Of course, the severity of this pandemic is not one to be downplayed. Life as we know it is halted right now and people are falling ill. However, it is also imperative to recognize that there are still positives happening frequently in the world around us today. 

This helps unifies us and reminds us that there is, in fact, a light at the end of the tunnel. It is extremely uplifting and inspiring to hear how people can largely impact the lives of strangers. It is also important to note that these people did these acts just out of the goodness of their hearts. 

With the uncertainty of the Coronavirus, it is important to take care of oneself, others, and communities. I challenge all of you here to do something that makes you feel good and to do something generous.

So what are you waiting for? How can YOU make a difference TODAY? How will you give back? Look around and you will see that there is a lot you can do.

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Therapy Dogs Are Giving Support Back To Hospital Workers Who Are Helping Us Through The Pandemic

Alyssa Klier

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Four college women with grey jackets on sit on the floor in a circle and spend time with the King Charles Spaniel therapy dog.
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Dogs are known as man’s best friend. The relationship of a human with a dog holds a special bond. They have a way of expressing unconditional love, loyalty, and support to humans without even having to say a word.

Dogs serve as source stability within their dog owner’s lives. They are constant companions that do not provide judgment. These loyal canines stick by their owner’s side and ask for nothing in return besides maybe an occasional belly rub or treats.

There has been a direct correlation found in the physical and mental health of people after having a human-dog interaction. Dogs have been shown to be able to perceive the emotions of a human accurately. For these reasons, dogs have been trained for many years as therapy dogs. 

Dogs are the perfect therapy animal. They have an innate ability to provide love and a sense of comfort and security in stressful situations.

 The main goal of therapy dogs is to brighten the day of people they interact with. The therapy dog can go anywhere with its owner to provide a sense of well-being and safety. 

Therapy dogs are trained in various therapy situations. The main traits that therapy dogs execute range based on the context of their work and what is needed of the animal. Despite this, therapy dogs are often confident in personality, tolerant of animals and people, and are well behaved in public places.

The main breeds of dogs that tend to be best suited as therapy dogs include: Labrador Retriever, Labradoodle, Corgi, Poodle, Pug, French Bulldog, King Charles spaniel, and Bichon Frise.  

A hopsital worker with a blue jacket, jeans, purple socks, and black work boots sits on the curb while petting a white  therapy dog.
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With these difficult and uncertain times during the pandemic, support is absolutely vital. Hospital workers are essential workers. They have been working copious amounts of hours on the frontlines against this virus.

They constantly are doing their jobs. They put their health and lives on the line in order to help others and the greater community. They are fighting the pandemic head-on.

While their work is extremely commendable, it can serve as cumbersome for the workers. Hospital workers have to work long shifts in their protective gear.

The protective gear has been shown to give bruises and hurt people’s ears. The work of hospital workers appears to be high stress due to the prolific amount of demand required.

Besides just physical labor involved in this role, hospital workers face an emotional burden and high levels of stress. Hospital workers need support in return during this time. For all that the hospital workers are giving, they need something in return.

Recently, therapy dogs have made their presence known during the pandemic. Therapy dogs have been directly helping hospital workers relieve their stress. This has been seen by therapy dogs either coming into hospitals, going on video chat, and using social media to help out.

 Therapy dogs have been extremely helpful in aiding the mental health of hospital workers in these three platforms. 

The first platform for therapy dog help is in person in hospitals. In the Denver medical centers, a yellow lab puppy named Wynn is available to see. Wynn waits in hospitals to be seen by hospital workers like clinicians, staff, and emergency responders. These hospital workers desperately need emotional support during this stressful pandemic which therapy dogs can provide.

Before going to see Wynn, hospital workers wash their hands thoroughly before seeing him. Hospital workers have reported receiving much joy from seeing the therapy dog. Further, there is a dog in Texas providing a similar source to a senior citizen center. Whether it is senior citizens or hospital workers, therapy dogs have been able to bring happiness in person in these stressful times for people.

The second platform for therapy dogs is an online video chat. A therapy dog company in Texas, called Divine Canines, has put its therapy dog service online. The online mode follows other various companies across the United States.

They have had to switch to an online method because of the uncertainty involved with the pandemic. This online measure is in place because hospitals and other healthcare facilities have restricted the number and types of visitors allowed.

Further, this online platform is also in place for a matter of convenience for people to access it due to the stay at home orders in place across the nation. People can set up appointments online to video chat with therapy dogs.

Additionally, there is also an option to receive a pre-recorded video of the therapy dogs. Many of these videos have been sent to hospital workers, patients, and immunocompromised people.

The videos, whether live or prerecorded, have contributed to shedding positivity within communities. In particular, it aims to use therapy dogs to provide hospital workers with some inspiration. 

The third platform for therapy dogs is social media. A famous therapy dog, named Loki, has taken social media by storm. Loki and his owner are based in Maryland and used to go to the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore three times a week.

Since the pandemic started, Loki and his owner have followed the stay at home orders, but their presence in the community is still prominent. Therapy dog Loki’s social media has been used to ask for donations in “hero healing kits”. The kits are for hospital workers. They consist of skin lotion, tea, baby powder, chapstick, chewing gum, and moisturizer. Loki’s owner has used Facebook and Instagram to promote the kits.

Further, the owner has an Amazon wish list where items can be found to buy for the kits for the hospital workers. The social media has been successful, as there have been over 1,400 kits donated with 200 more in the works. Currently, the kits have been donated to four hospitals in the Baltimore area This idea has even spread beyond Baltimore.

Places in New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other areas of Maryland have started to make the kits as well. Besides the kits, Loki has been able to act as a therapy dog for hospital workers.

Loki uses FaceTime to connect with hospital workers to provide virtual stress relief. Therapy dog Loki’s contributions have helped hospital workers as well as inspire communities to help out and take action.

A white Labrador Retriever therapy dog wearing a "Happy Tails" scarf on its neck is sitting.
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As seen through the three mentioned examples, interacting with therapy dogs can be life-changing. They can help anyone significantly improve their mental health.

Benefits like comfort, a decrease of anxiety, lifting spirit are plentiful in therapy dog patients. Further, they provide physical benefits too. Research has shown a reduction in blood pressure, lowering of physical pain, better cardiac health has been found in therapy dog patients.

There have been findings of improving recovery time and longer motivation to work more in patients when therapy dogs were present.

They also have a strong presence in literacy, as there is a program called PAWS for Reading. This program has therapy dogs present to help students read. Findings including improved literacy skills, better focus, and an increase in self-confidence have been tied to this program. 

 These mental and physical benefits of therapy dogs have been the perfect reason to provide their services to hospital workers during this time. Oftentimes, people might take advantage of all of the work that hospital workers do. It is very easy during a pandemic where everything is so uncertain and stressful to lose sight of how impactful essential workers are.

Hospital workers need to feel comfort and help just like they are giving out to so many people. Therapy dogs have been a great and positive outlet for hospital workers’ mental health. Even for a short amount of time, therapy dogs have provided relief and comfort to hospital workers.

Dogs really are man’s best friend. Their presence is a calming force that cannot be described. For this reason, therapy dogs are absolutely essential to help hospital workers right now. 

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How Essential Workers Became Frontline Soldiers Against COVID-19

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Man who is an essential worker with very short black hair and white facemask with yellow bands stands in front of paper towels in a commissary aisle.
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While most of the world is shut down due to Covid-19,  essential workers continue to go to work in hopes to alleviate further drawbacks.  

Jennifer Amador, Medical Assistant at University Hospital, said that her job is scary right now because of the rapid amount of people catching the virus. Despite being scared, Amador enjoys what she does, because she loves helping people get better.

Amador said she was not worried about the virus until two patients came in at the same time with Covid-19 symptoms. 

“My heart instantly dropped, and the first thing I thought of was the health of my children,” said Amador. “My fear quickly disappeared after I saw the pain on my patients’ faces.”

Covid-19, previously known as coronavirus is a disease spread between animals and humans that can cause a common cold, or worse.

Due to the severity of the disease, special laws have been implemented to maintain the safety of citizens. These laws include A six-foot rule, stating that everyone should stay six feet apart. Special curfews were also put into play. Citizens are advised not to leave homes unless it is essential. This is all in an effort to help stop the spread of the virus. 

Frontline workers are people whose jobs are considered essential. This includes healthcare worker groceries stores and bus drivers.

However, stores have started to limit the number of products customers can purchase due to overstocking. With most stores being sold out of cleaning supplies and face masks, registered nurse Maribel Perez said she had to think outside the box. Perez said that she started to make her own face masks out of old clothing and a sewing machine. 

Perez’s facemasks are now available at the entrance of her job in Hackensack New Jersey, for people to take as they please. The masks are free and disinfected before being displayed to the public.

“When I went to medical school to become an RN, I knew what I was signing up for,” said Perez. “My only concern right now is keeping all my patients safe, healthy, and educated on Covid-19.”

Emily VanHorn, state tested nursing assistant, said the hardest part for her is turning away resident’s family members who come to visit. 

Due to Covid-19, a majority of nursing homes have implemented a new rule that states no visitors are allowed in until this pandemic is under control, to prevent any more cases.

 VanHorn said her biggest concern is the safety of her residents, seeing as they are within the age group at risk. 

“Most of my residents are used to seeing their family members every day. It breaks my heart that they are not able to anymore,” said VanHorn. “I make sure that I interact with everyone as much as possible, to try and fill the void.”

VanHorn said that most family members break down in tears and ask we give a message to their loved ones.

However, there are also essential workers outside of the medical field that are going to work daily.

Store Clerk Idalyz Ruiz said she goes into work daily with a smile and a bright attitude, in hopes that it spreads to her customers. 

“I know my job at Walmart isn’t as important as doctors, but I am trying to do my part to help ease this pandemic as much as possible,” said Ruiz. “I enjoy going to work and brightening up people’s days by being outgoing and friendly because it might encourage them to do the same.”

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Mental Health In College Students is Spiking -Learn How They are Struggling Amidst the Coronavirus Outbreak

Alyssa Klier

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A college student struggling with mental health issues covers his face
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Mental health in college students is something that has always been of utmost concern. College students are very susceptible to many pressures, and changes. They move out of their homes into dorms where they have freedom and independence. But also a new copious amount of responsibilities ranging from managing academics, being involved on campus, and so on.

The rampant lifestyle change oftentimes translates into feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, and even depressed. These feelings tend to be onsets of experiencing mental health issues. And they heighten underlying mental health conditions that were either known or unknown.

One in two college students have reported struggling with mental health or claim their own as average or poor. Further, about 80% of students report feelings of being overwhelmed. 

With the increase of mental health issues in college students, colleges tend to provide many resources on campus to address these issues. Offices like counseling centers and safe offices are provided to students free of charge.

Additionally, these resources are accessible to any student with any experience ranging from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, academic stress, etc.

Despite the mental health in college students being a national concern, these issues have allowed for a prolific amount of awareness. Offices and student leaders are able to address these concerns and acknowledge warning signs.

On a more national scale, there has been a guideline book released on how to address, navigate, and start conversations around mental health in this age demographic.

It is important to note that many students experiencing issues might turn to peers for support. College is a community where everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is experiencing the stress of academics and balancing other aspects of life with that.

Students tend to turn to one another and serve as each other’s support systems in times of need. They also gain a sense of agency and autonomy in college that they would not have at home. This independence can also serve as mentally beneficial to students.

With the recent Coronavirus outbreak, there have been many implications for the mental health of college students. The CDC has called for social distancing and staying at home in quarantine unless for the acquiring of essentials to help stop the spread of the virus. Colleges have created emergency plans that have sent students home for the remainder of their spring semester. 

Many students do not have their belongings with them or have even had the chance to say goodbye to their friends due to the rapidly changing nature of this unpredictable virus. The Coronavirus outbreak has caused many changes to the everyday lives of college students that they are used to by now. 

Classes have been put online and are now taught in a remote learning style. Graduations nationally have been postponed or turned virtual as CDC guidelines call for the canceling of mass gatherings. Abroad programs have been cancelled. Students on campus jobs have been cancelled. 

Remote campus resources like counseling centers or career offices are now very limited in online availability. Most importantly, students are now either living in their family homes or are unable to go home. 

Students that are unable to go home might live in a different country and are now stuck on a deserted campus with limited resources. Additionally, college students at home might not be used to living at home. It also might not be a positive experience for every college student.

 Every student has different circumstances with their family, financially, and mentally. Due to the closing of large events, in place dinings, gyms, sports, etc., college students are now forced to stay where they are with no escape or outlet of mental release.

Students have switched to e-learning due to the coronavirus outbreak

On-campus, college students have the freedom to do what makes them feel happy. But quarantine and shelter in place disallow this privilege. 

Despite this, college students are still expected to perform academically to their best ability even under distracting circumstances.

College students no longer have access to campus resources and friends as support systems to the same degree that they did on campus. 

Students might not be in the right headspace to perform to the best of their ability academically. Besides online tutoring resources, students do not have study spaces, office hours, or in person tutoring at home. Distractions at home like family members working remotely or bad wifi can make learning a burden.

 Students also are forced to continually face the severity of the Coronavirus outbreak and cope mentally with life changes on their own. This complete alteration of life can serve as overwhelming and unsettling. Especially since the mental health of college students is already fragile and a major concern.

As a college student, I have been able to talk to my college friends about how they are coping mentally with the Coronavirus outbreak and being at home. Amongst the six college students I talked to, three of them see this situation in a negative light.

Female Junior from Boston who is living at home says: “I’d say for me, I am struggling a lot more than I would be on campus. It’s really hard not being around my usual support system and also just with people who are dealing with the same kind of problems as I am.

Overall, I don’t feel the same kind of encouragement and desire to succeed, which I feel at school. It is a lot harder to dedicate myself to my schoolwork.”

Female Junior from China who is living on campus says: “The fact that I can’t socialize with people is making me depressed. Recent coping methods have been sleeping.”

Male Sophomore from Tennessee living at home says: “This is among the more painful experiences of my life. Not because of the virus, but because I’m not allowed to leave my house for literal months and I can’t see my friends until the fall, at earliest. 

The fact that we could be held at home for any amount of the fall semester scares me greatly. Closing college campuses might be the right thing to do now, but as crazy as this may seem, opening them in the fall is the right thing to do.  It has to happen.”

For people like us, not being able to go to college hurts us beyond anything. It’s going to get to the point where the fear of not being able to return to school is greater than any fear of contracting the virus, if it hasn’t gotten to that point already. 

I understand the reason for social distancing, but at the same time, we have lives to live. And, there just comes a time when we have to return to them.  Whether it’s us college kids or people working in any industry, we have to resume our lives at some point in the next few months. Never forget that’s a part of our well being and affects our health.”

While many college students have been having a hard time coping during the Coronavirus outbreak, many college college students have also remained positive during this time.

The three students I talked to focused on what exactly they are doing to cope with this situation in order to remain relaxed and mentally well. 

These students talked about keeping busy in whatever way they desire. This includes staying connected to others, and maintaining a routine involving self care.

Female Junior from New Jersey living at home says: “I think that this quarantine/ virus outbreak has really emphasized the importance of taking care of myself and my mental health.

 I have been more aware of the down time. I need from doing work or fulfilling other responsibilities, and the importance of exercising daily and getting good sleep.

I think that right now we have no break from the workday and no separation of spaces like we normally would. Whether it be an office or library we would normally inhabit to work, our homes have now constantly made us available to overwork ourselves. And, we all need to remember to take a minute for relaxation sometimes and enjoy this time together.”

Female Senior from Florida living at home says: “During quarantine, I have had to brainstorm ways to keep good mental health. I try to get outside every day whether it is for a walk or swimming in my pool because I know that getting fresh air and sunshine is important.”

My friends are also a good source of mental support during this time. I try to check in with them every few days over text or zoom so I feel connected to others. 

Not every day is a good mental health day, but I try to keep a normal schedule to remind myself to not spend every day in my room/house.”

Female Sophomore from Ohio living at home says: “I would say that mentally it is challenging to not be discouraged by the situation. But maintaining a routine, keeping in touch with friends, and spending some time outside to walk my dogs really helps me feel better.”

It is important to note that everyone has their own unique experience in dealing and coping with this issue. Everyone is struggling and everyone is trying to just keep pushing through in whatever way possible. No one experience downplays someone else’s experience. There is no right or wrong way to feel or respond. 

The coronavirus outbreak has put all college students in a difficult situation. College students have a lot of pressure on them academically. But the mental health of college students is something that should not be ignored. 

Adapting to a new routine at home can serve as quite challenging. It is imperative to pay attention to signs of stress. It is also necessary to manage stress by supporting others and finding healthy ways to unwind yourself as well.

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