NELDON: Michiana’s giving spirit will get us through this crisis

The giving spirit is alive and well in southwest Michigan.

In spite of growing challenges quite literally plaguing our communities, one needs not look far to find acts of kindness in our communities. From birthday parades hosted at a social distance to signs placed in front yards in honor of graduating seniors, our communities have once again proven that the majority are eager to support one another.

As our region moves deeper into an economic crisis resulting from business closures, supply shortages and indefinite furloughs, I challenge southwest Michigan residents to keep that giving spirit alive in their hearts.

Amid this crisis, we are all facing challenges of varying degrees — and, no matter the degree of those challenges, we all have it within us to do what is right by ourselves and each other.

As coronavirus case counts decrease, and we begin to battle the economic effects of this virus, I implore each of you to consider what you have available to help others.

Whether financially stable or facing trying times economically, we all can do our part to help one another.

If you have funds to spare, consider giving to a local nonprofit. There are funds set up in each of our communities to help battle food insecurity (Nourish Niles through the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, Redbud Area Ministries, ACTION Ministries, Edwardsburg Food Pantry and Helping Hands of Cass County, to name a few).

If you do not have funds to spare, consider giving time to others. United Way of Southwest Michigan updates volunteer opportunities frequently on its website and publishes a list weekly in our newspapers.

Even if you do not have time or money to spare, we can all do our part to help one another by working to slow the spread of this virus, and supporting our local economy. Consider:

• Wearing a mask whenever you go out in public, even if this establishment you are visiting does not require masks to be worn.

• Continuing to wash your hands frequently.

• Buying local. While it may be tempting to order online through national retailers, our local economy will directly benefit when we directly benefit our local economy. Dine at locally owned restaurants, shop curbside at local retailers and buy gift cards for businesses that are not yet open.

I truly believe the biggest impact we can make in this crisis (and any crisis) is continuing to consider others in addition to ourselves. How are our actions impacting our families, neighbors, complete strangers?

If we keep this thought in our minds and continue building on the giving spirit that I know is alive and thriving in Michiana, our communities will survive this pandemic and all the related effects of the virus.

Together, we can heal. We will get through this, and we may even be better for it.

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