This week’s newsletter is different from the usual one—because, while it’s true that there is something happening in the Upstate 365 days a year, right now what’s happening is people are staying home and playing board games rather than going out. They’re working from home, schooling from home, eating takeout at home. The events we usually promote in the UpstateVibe365 newsletter are cancelled or postponed, and we thought about whether we should even send one out.

    But then we decided to highlight acts of kindness, the ways we are helping each other, and the things we can do to help when we don’t know how.

    People who know me on social media know that a lot of the things I share fall into two categories: silliness and what I like to call “humans being beautiful.” No matter how awful things are in the world, there are always stories to be found of humans being beautiful to one another, and that is certainly true in these unprecedented times of social distancing due to COVID-19 and the economic consequences that go with that.

    Sure, you hear stories of people fighting over toilet paper and bleach, and I’m sure it is not a fun time to be an employee at Costco or Walmart right now. Opportunities to come together in the ways people do after a natural disaster or other tragic event are limited by social distancing. The things you can think of to help your neighbors and community feel so small.

    And yet—people do help, in acts of kindness that are big and small, and they add up. I’m a huge fan of Mr. Rogers, and one of my favorite quotes from him is one you’ve no doubt seen in times like this: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.”

    Here in the Upstate, people and organizations are helping. They are finding ways to show kindness to their neighbors, in their community, and to perfect strangers. Whether it’s making sure kids who rely on school lunch programs have something to eat or neighbors offering to run errands for their elderly neighbors, they are helping.

    We want to hear your stories of kindness. Do you know of a person or an organization who is doing something to be a helper? Can you share a link to a program that is helping? As long as this social distancing continues, we want to highlight those people, so please email me your stories, your links.

    No matter what else gets cancelled, kindness will not be cancelled. And even if events aren’t happening and museums and venues are closed, there is still something happening in the Upstate 365 days a year. Kindness is happening.

    Pass it on.

    by Sharon Purvis, Ten at the Top’s Director of Outreach and Special Projects