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As we are approaching nearly a full month of Americans living life under a new reality as we fight coronavirus here and around the globe, there is a need now more than ever for individuals to come together to support their neighbors. Thankfully, amidst unsettling and uncertain news stories about what the future may hold with regard to the virus, the economy, and the overall way of life we have come to be accustomed to, there are stories aplenty of exactly the behavior that helps to inspire all of us to #LoveAmerica in our daily lives.
Across all fifty states, there are examples of outstanding citizens taking matters into their own hands and doing their part to show care, support, and solidarity with others. Whether others are part of an at-risk population, on the front lines of healthcare or other essential work, or simply experiencing anxiety as a result of the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in, take a look at how citizens in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina are showing that they #LoveAmerica.
Virginia: TJ Kim, a high school sophomore -- and pilot-in-training -- who lives in McLean has taken full advantage of both his time off from school and his flying lessons. He created Operation Supplies Over Skies (SOS) with the mission of making deliveries of medical supplies during his flying lessons to all seven rural hospitals in Virginia defined as “critical access.” As healthcare workers continue their diligent work to treat patients in need, TJ’s innovative project, Operation SOS, is helping communities across Virginia meet their needs.
West Virginia: Angela Crook, co-owner of City Slickers, a hair salon in Beckley, joined with her staff to do good for the community even while salons and spas are shut down due to a state-wide order from Governor Jim Justice. To maintain the friendship and hair of their clients while they have to be physically separated, the ladies at City Slickers put together take-home root touch up kits, complete with tools and instructions, and available for pickup at a drive through window. They have been wearing gloves and masks as well as reaching out individually to their elderly clients to ensure their wellbeing and help however possible.
Kentucky: Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who tested positive for coronavirus on March 22, announced today that, upon completing his quarantine and now retesting negative, he has begun “volunteering at a local hospital to assist those in [his] community who are in need of medical help, including Coronavirus patients.” Senator Paul is an M.D., and prior to entering politics, he did general surgery training and worked in an emergency room for several years before specializing as an eye surgeon. He is fully licensed to practice medicine in Kentucky.
Tennessee: First Lieutenant Bryan Burns and Second Lieutenant James Conlan -- two Memphis-native C-17 pilots in the U.S. Air Force -- flew nearly one million COVID-19 swab kits from Aviano, Italy to their hometown in Tennessee to be distributed across our country. Although they attended separate universities and pilot training schools, Lt. Burns and Lt. Conlan, who graduated together from Collierville High School in 2011, are now stationed at the same base in New Jersey, McGuire Air Force Base, and remain fast friends.
North Carolina: Mary Baggett, co-owner and operator of Blockade Runner Beach Resort in Wrightsville Beach, announced that the resort will do its best to continue its annual Easter celebrations for the community that has grown to know and love the celebrations. Although this year’s Easter Grande Buffet tradition will not feature the usual Easter egg hunts, Peter Cottontail, or families and children dressed up amidst whimsical decor, the resort, which has held festivities for the holiday every year but one since 1964, will offer its feast for pickup so those in the community who look forward to it every year can still enjoy it this Easter weekend.
Undoubtedly, concern for family, neighbors, and friends will continue in our country and across the world until the coronavirus pandemic has subsided. In the midst of it, we are eager to see, though, how those in our great nation continue to #LoveAmerica as they work together to beat this virus and bring our country back to regular order, even better than before.