Coronavirus acts of kindness: What your neighbors are doing to help others
If you need proof that people are nice and kind, you needn't look too far. With the coronavirus causing hardships throughout the region — shutting people in, depriving kids of school lunches and provoking enormous amounts of stress — your neighbors, your friends, your mom-and-pop shop owners are finding ways to help those who need help.
Here are just some examples of the acts of kindness being performed all around us by our fellow New Jerseyans.
Ryan Ang, 16, a Hackensack High School point guard, is the youngest basketball trainer in New Jersey, his father Winston Ang proudly reported. The Hackensack High school point guard charges his clients (he has about 100) $25 per session. However, now that schools have closed and practice and training have come to a halt, Ryan has begun offering free online basketball training sessions. It can be viewed on his Instagram and Facebook accounts. "It's safe for me and the athletes," Ryan said, adding, "I don't like staying at home. As students are chilling at home, instead of playing video games, they can be training with me as well as getting some good sweat."
Art lessons and art supplies
Judy Cohen, a Paramus mother of three and owner of The Paint Box, an art studio in Oradell, is offering online art classes and the supplies needed for free to seniors who can't afford them. She and a few friends have set up a donation. "The supplies cost from $50 to $60," she said. (Each class normally costs $15.) "We've already collected $300" — enough, she said, to send six seniors a box full of supplies.
They could use a lot more donations. "We're hoping that maybe a corporation will help us," Cohen said. "Maybe we can do this nationally. Get classes into nursing homes, pediatric hospitals."
"Art releases stress," Cohen added. "I was watching the news and my heart was breaking. My parents are watching corona-TV non-stop. They're now taking my class."
For more information about the class, visit The Paint Box on Facebook. To donate money, email email@example.com.
Food, cleaning supplies and paper goods
For the Jewish holiday Purim a week ago, Jocelyn Inglis of Bergenfield collected unopened pasta boxes to be used as noisemakers by the children. After the holiday, she donated the boxes to a food pantry in Bergenfield. Now that there's a public health crisis, she and her best friend, Lupe Ruiz-Catala, also of Bergenfield, thought: Why not collect more food and distribute it to anyone in need in our community?
They let their friends know through social media — and within 24 hours collected enough food, cleaning products and paper goods to fill 80 bags. They first handed out about 25 at the local VFW and distributed the remainder to seniors, veterans and families in need, with the help of Mayor Arvin Amatorio and Councilman Marc Pascual.
"People were thanking us in tears," Inglis said. "My friend and I have been crying about this."
They are continuing to collect. If you'd like to help, email Inglis at Jinglis74@hotmail.com. What's needed: canned and boxed foods, paper goods, cleaning supplies and baby items. "Diapers and wipes are in high demand," she said.
Burgers and more
Stephen Chrisomalis, chef and owner of Steve's Burgers, was stunned by what happened after he announced that, to help kids and families who are hungry, he is offering a free cheeseburger or hot dog with a drink at his two locations in Lodi. (Just say "cheeseburger with love" or "hot dog with love" to get a free meal.)
"I have had donations from nonprofit organizations, churches, customers," he said. "They are leaving checks and extra money. They are bringing packs of cookies, cases of water. The way people came together was honestly something I've never witnessed before."
Steve's Burgers is at 506 Route 6, Garfield; 973-772-1770, and 68 Passaic St., Garfield, 973-955-2882. facebook.com/pages/category/Burger-Restaurant/Steves-Burgers-108686152507598.
Corned beef & cabbage and sub sandwiches
The Somerset County Democrats (SCDC) donated the food that they would have served at two canceled fundraisers to the Community Hop” program at the Lyons veterans hospital in Stirling. The donations included corned beef and cabbage with all the fixings for 85 from Savor Restaurant on Main Street in Somerville; three 6-foot submarine sandwiches from Just Subs on Route 206 in Hillsborough; and the monthly contribution of 65 bags of groceries in conjunction with the Foodbank Network of Somerset County.
"We were disappointed to cancel both our nominating convention and our annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration,” said Peg Schaffer, SCDC chairwoman. “But we’re glad good can come out of these hard times."
“My WWII veteran grandfather was a patient at Lyons, and I can’t think of a better way to make lemonade from lemons than to donate today’s St. Patrick’s feast to these veterans,” said Robert Petix Jr., owner of Savor Restaurant, who waived his profit to make the donation possible. “COVID-19 is having an impact on our business, but these veterans have given so much to the country that I’m glad to help out.”
A homemade meal
Clifton-based artist Chris Green's Instagram post reads as follows: "If school closures have you concerned about your child not being able to get breakfast or lunch, please let me know.
"I will do what I can to help. A box of cereal, gallon of milk, bread, pb/j, a homemade meal. Just let me know. No judgement ever & it'll be our secret."
Green has more than 4,400 followers. He asked them to repost his post. He asks that if you can use his help, you just direct message him though Instagram (chris_gr33n_official).
Sandwiches for kids
Elsie's in Haddon Township, a popular restaurant famous for its pickle sandwiches, is offering free sandwiches for children who receive free or reduced lunches in Oaklyn, Haddon Township and Collingswood. The sandwiches — on bread, and not pickles — are available for pickup between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Also, The Square Meal in nearby Oaklyn is donating fresh, homemade chocolate chip cookies for the kids, available at the shop, at 803 White Horse Pike, Haddon Township; 856-858-7041.
All good in Ridgewood
After Ridgewood declared a local state of emergency, Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh had many people reach out to offer help. Many people in need of assistance don’t live in community housing, so they don’t have anyone to help with day-to-day tasks, she said.
Walsh reached out to the community for support. Within two days, she had heard from more than 100 people willing to participate in an “Adopt A Senior” volunteer chain.
“It could be just chatting on the phone to let them know what’s going on if they don’t have a computer, or picking up basic groceries,” Walsh said in an email to NorthJersey.com.
Now, when seniors reach out, they’re paired with a volunteer. As more calls from seniors come in during the next few weeks, “people are waiting and ready to help,” Walsh said. “When Ridgewood pulls together, it really pulls together.”
Collecting Cleaning Supplies
Rockaway Township councilman Tucker Kelley is collecting cleaning supplies for anyone in Rockaway Township or its schools who relies on assistance programs. "I just want those in dire straits to know we are thinking of them," he said. He said there are from 400 to 600 people in the Township who receive assistance services. People can drop their donations at The Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 508 Green Pond Road, Rockaway, anytime; the entrance lobby doors are open 24 hours a day. For more information, contact Brenda Ann Buddn (Brenda Ann Budd Dunn), Rachael Jacobs (Rachel Sagreto Jacobs), Ellen Crane, or Kelley (Tucker M. Kelly). "One item is better than nothing," Kelley said. "One item can help out a family for a long period of time."