Itís safe to say all of you understand what I mean when I say 2020 has been one heck of a year, and itís not even April yet.
Over the past few weeks, the novel coronavirus has spread throughout the United States rapidly. Restaurants and shops have closed during one of the busiest tourism seasons of the year. Spring break is effectively canceled for those who are paying attention to whatís happening in the world.
Folks are being urged to stay home if they can to stop the spread. Gideon and I are two of those people ó since last week, we have been self-quarantining at home. Iíve heard it said that the optimistic and healthy among us will doom the vulnerable. I plan to do everything I can to keep those vulnerable people safe, even if that means not working in my usual comfortable environment or going to some of my favorite public places for a while. It is the least any of us can do to protect our fellow citizens.
It is so important to take this virus seriously without giving in to the fear that naturally comes with it. Believe me, I understand feeling the need to deny this pandemic. The fear can be overwhelming for many of us, but we have to accept reality. That is the only way we will pull through this together. And on that note, Iíd like to shine a light on all the good that has happened in our community in response to the virus.
For one, the schools are still finding ways to feed kids even though school wonít be in session until April 17. Many children rely on their school for at least one hot meal a day. That means school cancellations disrupt their routine in more ways than one. I am thankful to all our school districts that are finding ways to take care of these kids, especially considering the constraints placed upon all of us right now.
A local bakery in Eureka Springs has stepped up and offered a free meal to local kids during spring break, fully knowing how strong the need is in our community. Likewise, a grocery store and church in Green Forest have agreed to provide lunches to kids during spring break. I am sure there are lots of other groups helping feed the kids that I havenít mentioned here ó in a community like ours, that giving spirit is everywhere.
Of course, that giving spirit isnít just geared toward local youngsters. I have seen so many people offer to pick up groceries, prescriptions and any other need for older and immunocompromised folks who are at a higher risk of death from the virus. I joined a Facebook group solely dedicated to helping community members in need. People have offered to give toilet paper, nonperishable items, breast milk, rent assistance, free lunch, masks, advice and comfort during this trying time. It is heartwarming to see so many people open their wallets, hearts and minds to meet local needs.
While we see that kindness on a regular basis in Carroll County, it has certainly kicked up a notch as we all learn to cope with the spread of COVID-19. There are things we have to do to stop the spread: self-quarantine if you can, practice social distancing and frequently wash your hands. But giving food and supplies to those who need it the most?
We donít have to do that. We choose to. This virus will stop spreading eventually and life will return to normal. When that happens, I wonít remember all the stress and fear weíre experiencing right now. Iíll remember the folks that gave back to the community, and Iíll remember that they didnít have to.
To all of you who have given your time, money or both to support the community during this time, I salute you ó and I will remember you long after we return to business as usual.