Guest Opinion: Hoarders and helpers have emerged as a result of the COVID crisis; be one of the good guys

Published 10:52 am Sunday, March 22, 2020

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by Rebecca Weber

Watching hoarders as they empty the shelves of supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies as COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic, takes its toll on daily life in our communities, it is easy to assume that a crisis brings out the worst in people. But, the fact is it can bring out the best in us, as well.

Take the story of a pair of brothers in Hixson, Tenn. who sought to corner the market for hand sanitizers, antibacterial wipes and face masks in the early days of the potentially deadly disease. The New York Times reported that during the three days after the first death was announced on February 29 one of them set out on a 1,300 mile road trip through Tennessee and Kentucky filling a U-Haul truck with the loot. The other brother stayed home listing the stuff on Amazon at exorbitant prices as high as $70.

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As Times reporter, Jack Nicas, put it in his article: “To him, ‘it was crazy money.’ To many others, it was profiteering from a pandemic.”

The good news is that the brothers got their comeuppance. Tennessee’s Attorney General was quick to issue a cease and desist order and Amazon quickly shut them down leaving the boys sitting on nearly 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizer with no way to unload them at a profit.

Meanwhile, there are heartwarming stories of kindness that have begun to emerge throughout the country about neighbors helping neighbors. Many are taking to social media to rouse the good guys to act at this time of crisis.

One woman on Facebook posted a notice offering to shop for seniors in her community and neighboring communities who are house-bound as a result of the COVID epidemic. Caring messages and posts are showing up throughout the social media world. They offer to provide caregiver services for those who might need it and necessities such as medical supplies.

One out-of-towner contacted a deli in Detroit and put up cash for a take-out order for a “worthy charity or person [all your call].”

Here are a few things that you can do to help during the COVID crisis:

– There are plenty of elderly neighbors in your communities, individuals and couples who might, for all intents and purposes, be shut ins at a time like this. Check in on them and help them on a regular basis.  Offer to help them with chores and shopping, for example.

– If there are neighbors who need medical attention, offer to help them get in touch with a teledoctors via the internet as in-person visits to medical facilities are being discouraged.

– Schools throughout the country are shutting down in order to contain the virus, schools that were providing meals for their students. Get together with your friends and neighbors to find ways to ensure the kids get something healthy to eat.

– Help support local food banks and places in your community that provide shelter for the needy. You might also consider helping out neighbors whose employment has been disrupted as a result of the virus by helping them to purchase necessities.

In other words, become a good guy and come to the rescue if you are able. Don’t be a hoarder; be a helper.

Rebecca Weber is CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens.