An army of kindness

Thumbs Up: It’s heartwarming to see how people are rallying together throughout our community to help others who are impacted by the coronavirus. A local Facebook group, “Helping Hands of Alexandria” is a perfect example. Started by Kelsi Timm, the group has grown to more than 2,400 volunteers who are performing big and small acts of kindness and generosity that offer blazing rays of light through this dark and uncertain time. Like an army of kindness, these volunteers have sewn medical masks for medical and emergency personnel. They’re creating uplifting videos for the residents of Bethany on the Lake. They purchased and delivered groceries to the elderly. They helped a woman who had a water pump break down in the middle of the night. They’ve made bright, cheery cards to those who needed a lift. They started a “bear hunt” by encouraging neighborhoods and businesses to place teddy bears in their windows for families and their children to spot. They provided gift baskets to those who could use an unexpected treat, such as a young couple who had to spend a little extra time in the hospital after the birth of their baby. They delivered 103 “bunny bags” to the elderly in care centers. They painted hearts and other artistic expressions in the windows of homes and businesses that requested it. They’re providing free sandwiches to police officers, sheriff’s deputies, ambulance personnel and state troopers. (They even gave food and treat baskets to the local media – thank you very much!) The list of kindness keeps growing. You can add to it. Donations can be sent through Venmo at Helping-Hands-6 or by contacting Kelsi Timm at 320-766-2036 or Nattiel Dammer at 320-808-3564. For more information, visit the Facebook page or website.

Tips for family togetherness

Thumbs Up: An Alexandria reader provided advice worthy of a thumbs up: “In these days of family togetherness at home, moms and dads of upper elementary, middle school or high school children might wish to use this time to teach their children the following ‘how tos.’ 1. Do a load of laundry. 2. Write out a check and balance a checkbook. 3. Make a simple meal. 4. Change oil in the car (yes, girls too). 5. Bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies (how proud your son would be to share). 6. Vacuum a carpet (and how to maintain the vacuum cleaner). 7. Write a thank you note (and how to mail it). 8. Organize a closet. 9. Iron a shirt. 10. Grocery shop (compare brands and prices, nutrition, how much money can be allotted, etc.). And keeping in mind that the above are all life skills.”

Realty firm provides meals

Thumbs Up: We need more feel-good stories to help us through this pandemic. Here’s one submitted by a reader: The Better Homes and Garden new realty office in Alexandria provided up to 50 meals for individuals in the community by way of Travelers' Inn. A simple phone call made it possible to order "anything off the Traveler's Inn menu," and meals were picked up and delivered to eldery people who could not get out. “Thank you, Shawn Reilly and team at Better Homes and Garden Realty,” the reader said.

A warm gift for cancer patients

Thumbs Up: At a recent convention, Lions club members of District 5M4, consisting of 55 clubs in West Central Minnesota, tied 200 tie blankets for pediatric cancer patients. Half of them were donated to Children's Hospital and the rest to the Ronald McDonald House, local hospitals and EMTs.

Improving internet access

Thumbs Up: With schools closed in 41 states and students practicing “distance learning” because of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to have fast, reliable internet connections. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for nearly 12 million students in the U.S. who do not have access to high-speed internet at home. Fortunately, lawmakers are trying to address the issue. Last week, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Gary Peters and Jon Tester urged Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to take action to ensure that students have access to the internet so that they can continue learning while schools are closed and to create a consumer-friendly web portal with additional school resources. “As states temporarily close their schools and move to online instruction to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, the FCC must take action to expand internet availability and keep Americans informed,” the senators wrote. They urged the FCC to use its existing authority and resources to ensure that all students can access online instruction at home to continue learning and keep Americans informed during this public health crisis.

If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to aedenloff@echopress.com or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.