It’s not hard to find the heroes — a term never lightly assigned but surely appropriate here — in America’s coronavirus crisis. They’re working in hospitals and at grocery store counters. They’re driving ambulances and garbage trucks and commodity-filled semi trailers. Without them, well, let’s leave it there; the thought is unfathomable.

Americans are finding creative ways to thank and celebrate these front-line warriors — from a safe distance — for putting their own lives on the line to save others.

In New York City, where stories and images no one ever imagined possible snap our hearts in two, nurse Mohamed Mokhtar celebrated his birthday behind the glass door of a hospital. For three weeks, he has seen his wife and kids only through that barrier when they deliver him meals.


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“Don’t blow, don’t blow,” someone said when Mokhtar retrieved the candle-topped birthday cake his family left outside the door. It was too risky, they said. “We have only words now,” his wife said. Read the story by Matt Troutman and watch the video on Park Slope Patch: ‘Hero In Scrubs’ Has Birthday Behind Glass.

Feeding Tummies And Souls

Businesses are feeling the pinch of various stay-at-home orders and record unemployment, but this company in northern Virginia launched a “Feed a Hero” initiative to deliver 100 meals a day to health care facilities, fire and police stations, and a shelter serving homeless families and survivors of domestic violence. Read Emily Leayman’s story on Fairfax Patch.


Business Faced Closure, Made It Count

Jody’s Hot Dogs was hit hard by the shutdown of sit-down restaurants and bars, and manager Tamera Wright wasn’t sure the business would make it. But the eatery pivoted with the new times. Its “Feed A First Responder” program has been a smashing success, delivering 20 to 70 meals a day. Read John Ferak’s story on Joliet Patch.


Oh, You Wanted Kosher?

When nursing student Eytan Israelov had to give up an internship opportunity to protect his growing family from the coronavirus pandemic, he wanted to find some other way to help. He related to a Brooklyn hospital worker unable to find kosher food and knew he had found his cause. Read Maya Kaufman’s story on Forest Hills Patch.


They Made Health Workers Cry

“Heroes Work Here,” some Wisconsin residents spelled one letter at a time. Flashing their headlights from a hospital parking lot brought the medical staff to tears in what was called a “Flashin’ First Friday” event. Read Scott Anderson’s story on Mount Pleasant-Sturtevant Patch.


Here are more stories from Patch’s community news sites demonstrating Americans’ gratitude to front-line workers:


Best Face Mask May Come From A Kid

Face masks are necessary, but not always comfortable to wear. A 16-year-old with time on her hands developed a face mask to protect her parents and grandparents in the multi-generational family home. It’s designed to allow oxygen to pass through, making it breathable, yet stopping the coronavirus particles from getting through. Her invention caught the attention of university and public health officials. Read Mark Hand’s story on Fairfax City Patch.


Here are some other ways young people are stepping up:


Soldier’s Welcome: Coronavirus Edition

U.S. Army Major Matthew Zilinski came home to a different America after an 11-month deployment overseas. But he still got cheers and a parade. Read Carly Baldwin’s story on Middleton Patch.


Easter Forgiveness Of Medical Bills

The rector of an Episcopal church in Tucson, Arizona, is working with a national nonprofit group to forgive and eliminate delinquent medical debt for about 1,700 households but worries more residents will be saddled with unmanageable health care costs when the coronavirus crisis is over. The debt-forgiveness effort, backed by church members’ individual donations, is an appropriate Easter message, “sort of what the whole church is about,” the Rev. Robert Hendrickson said. Read Beth Dalbey’s story on Tucson Patch


Easter Bunny Is Social Distancing

Here’s what happens when someone who wants to cheer up children sidelined from school also happens to own an Easter bunny costume. Read Kara Seymour’s story on Newtown Patch.


Keeping Easter Real

Police officers in an Ohio town recognize how stressful self-isolating is, especially at Easter time. Working with volunteers, they handed out baskets of dry goods and groceries, sweetening each with a bouquet of fresh flowers. Read Chris Mosby’s story on Westlake Patch.


Here are some other ways people are finding normalcy in the new normal:


Porch Portraits Raise Money

Award-winning photographer Sandy Schaeffer is taking pictures of local folks sitting on their front porches. The photos preserve the historic time in the families’ lives when they were quarantined together, but what makes Schaeffer’s efforts all the more special is that she’s donating a portion of the portrait fee to a campaign to help bar and restaurant employees who are out of work because of the crisis. Read Mark Hand’s story on Manassas Patch.


Here are some ways others are helping their communities:


Gloria Estefan Has A Message For You

Singer Gloria Estefan has turned “Get On Your Feet,” one of her most iconic songs into a coronavirus anthem for a new generation of fans who are facing challenging times. “They say stay home. Please don’t go outside …” it begins. Read Paul Scicchitano’s story and watch the video on Miami Patch.


Tyler Perry Pays Seniors’ Grocery Bills

Tyler Perry has been busy. The Atlanta TV and movie mogul generously paid the bill for Kroger’s senior and at-risk shoppers at 44 metro Atlanta locations. Read Andrea V. Watson’s story on Atlanta Patch.


Kittens Take Over Aquarium: Watch

Don’t worry, the fish at the Georgia Aquarium aren’t in danger, though history has it that ancient Egyptians were the first humans to domesticate cats by luring them into home with fish. The kitties got their personal tour courtesy of the Atlanta Humane Society. Read Kathleen Sturgeon’s story on Atlanta Patch.


Get A Puppy Or Kitty With Your Pizza

There’s one thing that people love right now just as much as cute photos of kitties and puppies — a piping-hot pizza delivered straight to their doors. So a local volunteer with a New Jersey animal rescue operation had an idea: Why not plaster photos of adoptable pooches and cats on the pizza boxes? Read Caren Lissner’s story on Cranford Patch.


And Who Doesn’t Love Baby Elephants?

A baby elephant born last week in Arizona is providing a virtual escape from the boredom of sheltering in place. Photos and zoo webcam videos of elephants — the exceptionally smart and highly social giants of Africa’s sub-Saharan savannas — and all the other animals at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson. Read Beth Dalbey’s story on Tucson Patch.


And Finally, A Message Of Hope

On March 15, Dr. Marc Rabinowitz was online, posting videos that shared tips about fighting the spread of the new coronavirus. In the days that followed, the Pennsylvania physician would fight a more personal battle with the virus after contracting it himself. “People recover,” he said. “There’s not only bad news. People are recovering from this,” he said. Read the story from Doug Gross on Bensalem Patch.

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