In these times of confusion and uncertainty, it's good to know that neighbors are reaching out to help each other through social media and direct action. Here are a couple of examples this Leader reporter learned about. If you know of more, let me know: jeremyjones@hutchinsonleader.com.

When area schools have rolled out plans to feed students while school is canceled following an order from Gov. Tim Walz. But on Monday and Tuesday it was less clear how families would feed students stuck at home.

"I thought, 'Let's see what we can do,'" said Amy Paulson of Hutchinson.

She reached out on Facebook to see if anyone would be willing to help gather supplies for families. She as advised to make a page for that purpose, and so she launched the group "Kindness in This Crazy World — McLeod County." She purchased groceries and handed them out to those in need.

"Several people have donated money to the cause and we got more groceries for people who needed them," Paulson said. "And people have gone on their own to get groceries for people in need."

Though schools are now providing meals to students, people facing a lot of job hours due to COVID-19 may still need a helping hand. One member of the Facebook group, Kathy Rosenau, is a Country Kitchen employee. When she learned the restaurant had perishable food it would soon need to throw out, she asked if it could be donated. Country Kitchen sent along egg mixture, lettuce, noodles, coleslaw and more for Paulson to hand out.

"I put a shout out on the kindness page and I think we had about 10 people come and grab stuff," Paulson said.

She said she was inspired to organize the effort because of kindness offered to her in the past.

"I'm one of those people who have to stay home because I have immunity issues because of a kidney transplant due to lupus," Paulson said.

She's also a stay-at-home mom, and her son, Wesley, has received donations of breast milk.

"This is a way for me to give back to the community for what they have done to my son," Paulson said. "In a world with so many uncertainties it's nice to have some kindness."

TREATS FOR HUTCHINSON HEALTH STAFF

Tiffani Espinosa and her mother, Becky Espinosa, just wanted Hutchinson Health staff to know they were appreciated, especially as they prepare to respond to and mitigate COVID-19.

"Before the hospitals closed to visitors, we delivered 10 treat baskets to various departments and nurse stations," Tiffani said. "While most of us have the option to self-quarantine, our hospital staff are at the front lines and are coming in contact with all of this every day. They're overworked and underappreciated. We brought them snacks to encourage them to keep going."

The act of kindness was inspired by Tiffani's father, Eric. That's why she and her mother call their efforts to cheer others up "Eric's Acts of Kindness." He died in October due to terminal brain cancer.

"The way my dad lived, he was always giving to others," Tiffani said. "His motto was, 'Even when you have nothing, give it to others and it will be returned to you.' He was always living in kindness and spreading joy. When he passed away I felt it was important to, instead of sitting around and being sad ... to put purpose behind his life and honor his memory."

Tiffani said acts of kindness don't have to be monetary. Sometimes it helps to simply smile, thank someone, or tell someone they are appreciated. That's what prompted the snack delivery to Hutchinson Health this past Friday.

"They are the ones who don't have a choice in facing all this," Tiffani said. "It's just to let them know that no matter what we are thinking of them."

The treat baskets were received with smiles, gratitude and tears.

"They thanked us over and over," Tiffani said. "When you take care of others, they'll take care of those around them and it continues on."

Laboratory Manager Laura Templin-Howk said she was shocked at the delivery.

"I had to go around and ask who this family was," she said, "and that made it even more touching."

Staff are under a lot of pressure and scrutiny at the moment, and resources are finite.

"The lab team has really been struggling," Templin-Howk said. "Even within the day things change as far as what is accepted, so to get that kind of support means a lot. And there were nutritious treats as well."

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