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NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Pandemic spurs good examples of human spirit

The coronavirus pandemic has an upside: It has inspired the best in many individuals and organizations.

We can all tell stories of people who have stepped up to help others during this tumultuous time. Rather than sulking and suffering in seclusion, many have found ways to meet the needs of their fellow man.

This is a tribute to some examples:

Roadside Pantries: Maybe you’ve seen the free library boxes in neighborhoods around Fort Wayne. Some have taken that model to create small pantries stocked with free food and personal care items like toothbrushes and diapers for people in need. They’re showing up near churches and businesses and in front of homes.

Inspired by a similar effort by an Indiana man who wanted to support college students in his town, the Traverse City (Michigan) Record-Eagle reports that Northern Michigan has set up roadside pantries. Roger Rainey, who stocks one such roadside food pantry in Bellaire, Mich., said the only rule is that people take what they need, but eat what they take.

Free Libraries: The Kokomo Tribune reports an effort in its community to create more free libraries for the public by using old newspaper boxes.

Little free libraries, such as the ones we have in Fort Wayne, have been around for several years – small containers or boxes stocked with books that are free for anyone to take in exchange for another book.

Since public libraries are closed, Michelle Herr wanted to put one more out in Kokomo to house used children’s books she had stored in her attic through the years. She called the Tribune to see if there were unused newspaper boxes she could use for her idea. The company ended up donating 20 that were no longer in use. Today, three of those boxes have already been converted into little free libraries with more to come.

Fostering Dogs: The Indianapolis Star has reported residents of central Indiana have been fostering dogs in record numbers as they seek companionship in their homes during the pandemic. Shelters report large increases in the number of fosters of dogs since stay-at-home orders took effect.

The Humane Society for Hamilton County reports 185 animals were being fostered last week, compared to a normal week when 75 would be. IndyHumane saw a spike to 400 foster pets last week from a normal of about 120 at this time of year. And Indianapolis Animal Care Services said 125 more animals have been fostered compared to the usual amount.

Locally, people can foster pets from such organizations as the Allen County SPCA and Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control.

Interstate Food Trucks: The Indiana Department of Transportation announced this week the launch of a temporary program to permit licensed food trucks to operate at rest area locations on Indiana interstate highways to provide food and beverages for commercial truck drivers and motorists engaged in essential travel during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The program will provide needed options for truck drivers, many of whom are reporting limited availability of food and beverages near highways across the country due to restaurants and other businesses following public health guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Making Face Shields: In southern Indiana, according to The Associated Press, a workshop is ramping up production of face shields for medical workers and hopes to produce 2,000 a day amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Maker13, which was closed in March due to the Pandemic, and the Jeffersonville workshop’s owner, John Riley, are using 3D printing equipment to make face shields for hospitals, with help from community partners. The face shields can extend the lifespan of face masks crucial for protecting medical workers as they treat COVID-19 patients.

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