Around the United States, many schools are moving to online learning in virtual classrooms this week. Major events such as college basketball’s March Madness tournaments, the Boston Marathon, and the Kentucky Derby are canceled or rescheduled for late in the year. Many American citizens have retreated to their homes. It’s all part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The highly infectious virus emerged in China in late 2019 and has since spread rapidly around the globe.
Some U.S. residents are staying in voluntarily under the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control. Others are submitting to their state governors’ mandates to limit interaction outside their homes.
Colleges around the nation told students to move out of dorms. Some, such as the private Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and the public North Carolina State University in Raleigh, announced that the move-out is not temporary. On-site classes will not resume this semester. Everything will go online. Other educational institutions hold out hope that the worst might pass and normal operations may resume.
Across the nation, many states ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms. Patrons may still order food for pickup and delivery, but the social dining-out experience is prohibited.
The measures seem drastic. With a few exceptions, businesses of all sizes are feeling the financial impact of lost sales. Online giant Amazon is one that has seen a burst in business. The company announced it seeks to hire 100,000 additional employees to help with package fulfillment and delivery as shoppers order more from home rather than going to stores.
It may sound dreadful. But even in the chaos, sicknesses, and shortages, people are still showing themselves to be image bearers of their Creator God. The helpers are emerging.
Communities around the nation have formed online resource groups. In those, residents can learn about services offered to help—from public institutions, private companies, and individuals. Healthy college students do grocery pickup and door delivery for the sick and elderly so they don’t have to venture out. In Charlotte, North Carolina, seven area churches banded together to pack grab-and-go brown-bag lunches for anyone under age 18. Parents or caregivers could simply drive by and pick up lunch for students who would normally eat at school. Many restaurants, despite already managing lost sales, offered the same service for children.
Internet providers like Spectrum and Comcast sought to assist online learning by offering 30 days of free service or hot spots to homes with students who could not afford it otherwise. U-Haul said it would give a month of free storage to college students suddenly displaced from dorms.
School kids in the Gold Hill Middle School choir from Fort Mill, South Carolina, raised $750 to help their charter bus drivers. The drivers had delivered the choir safely to and from a competition in Florida. But after that trip, they would have no more work due to the widespread shutdowns.
On a larger scale, some professional athletes have sought personally to care for workers who will lose income from event closures. For example, Zion Williamson is a professional basketball player for the New Orleans Pelicans. His team’s home arena, the New Orleans Smoothie King Center, announced it would close as the NBA suspended its season. Williamson pledged to pay the salaries of workers there—from ticket booth clerks to concessions staff to janitors—for 30 days.
In hard times, it may be easy to feel discouraged or fearful. But God promises to never leave or forsake His people. He continues to work for good. And often, He delivers that work through the efforts of people in communities.
What kinds of helpers have you seen?
(On Tuesday, March 17, Patrick Minor loads food onto a delivery truck at the Des Moines Area Religious Council food pantry in Des Moines, Iowa. The pantry will deliver hundreds of sacks of food in its community—as long as supplies last. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)