It is a commonly held sentiment that social media can act as both a blessing and a curse. During times of struggle and uncertainty, sites like Facebook seem to magnify their contribution on either end of the spectrum. Over the past few weeks, I have seen the COVID-19 pandemic become the forefront topic to scroll across my newsfeed, with the majority of posts expressing concern for the healthcare system, the economy and resource availability in our communities. Though we have been presented with so much misinformation and confusion surrounding the coronavirus, there is one thing that I know to be true regarding my social network: We are “Iowa Nice.” With this in mind, I created the “Iowa COVID-19 Support Group” on Facebook.
This group provides a medium through which Iowans in need can connect with Iowans that want to give back. Whether our neighbors are experiencing limitations through self-isolation, lack of income or retail supply shortages, there are others who are experiencing an abundance of free time and are blessed to continue to receive a steady paycheck as we navigate the pandemic situation. By simply posting in the Facebook group with a request or an offer, it becomes a unified resource for Iowans to refer to and to address needs on a case-by-case basis. In addition, I am posting helpful and credible information on COVID-19 such as effective disinfecting methods, CDC recommended precautions, and accurate symptom reports and statistics.
We have experienced a wonderful outpouring of support and encouragement throughout Iowa. Within the first day, my husband and I traveled to distribute hand sanitizer to at-risk individuals - 100 full size bottles of which were donated by a Drake University student. I was contacted by a woman living out of state who told me that her elderly mother in Des Moines was on the phone crying of hunger after not having eaten in two days because she was afraid to go out for groceries. Within a few hours we were able to find a community member that wanted to donate and deliver food to her door, fulfilling her need without compromising her safety.
With each interaction, we encourage social distancing and diligent hygiene practices. It has allowed a diabetic couple in Dubuque to receive toilet paper without putting them at risk by having to visit every store in the city to find it. We were able to provide a young mother in Grimes with baby food, diapers and meals by taking donations from two different people, and finding yet another person who was able to transport it all. Our reach extends from Sioux City to Davenport, as I have found gracious volunteers in different locations to help me moderate the group.
I challenge every Iowan to take some control of their experience by utilizing this situation to commit an act of service that can help fill our communities with positivity and support. It can take various forms, whether it be a financial contribution to a nearby food bank, donating three rolls of toilet paper to someone across town, running to the store for an elderly neighbor, or even just buying a gift card from your local hair dresser to use later; see what you can do to propagate your blessings throughout your community. For more ideas on ways to demonstrate your “Iowa Nice,” search Iowa COVID-19 Support Group on Facebook.
Kacie Griffith of Williamsburg goes to medical school in Des Moines.