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Even with all of this *gestures* happening, people around Tampa Bay are still finding ways to uplift each other and make the community a little better.
Let’s celebrate some of those bright spots.
Social distancing isn’t stopping people from connecting with one another
Coronavirus has taken away a lot, but friends are figuring out a way to get together. More than 300 senior citizens learned how to use Zoom to continue taking educational courses at Eckerd College. Now they use it for a virtual happy hour.
Then there was Lily Wolfe, a kindergartener who was disappointed that she couldn’t celebrate her 6th birthday with her classmates. Her teacher, Jennifer Buckley, came by with a (socially distant) surprise.
Buckley isn’t the only rock star teacher trying to beat the isolation blues. A caravan of Pasco teachers paraded through neighborhoods for a special show of support for their students.
Meanwhile on Facebook, a community of Florida educators has blossomed. Teachers Going Digital Unite, a new Facebook group created by Pinellas County teacher Traci Andrews, is helping parents, teachers and principals ease into online learning. There are now over 15,000 members.
Tough times inspire creative solutions
Like makers in many cities around the world, folks in Tampa Bay are combatting medical supply shortages by hand-sewing masks.
The Mask Project Tampa Bay may be new, but the Facebook group already has 2,000 members on a mission to make masks for healthcare workers. Members are also collecting donations of materials and supplies, like wipes, gloves and sanitizer.
Many restaurants have been forced to lay off workers or close, but they aren’t giving up.
“Family meals and food delivery for out-of-work hospitality workers have been popular," writes food critic Helen Freund. "Some restaurant and bar owners have forgone their own salary while trying to keep some of their employees afloat. And virtual tip jars, often in the form of online GoFundMe campaigns, have emerged as the go-to crowdsourcing model to provide relief from coronavirus-related costs.”
We could all use a drink right now. The bars may be closed for 30 days, but a virtual speakeasy is keeping some local bartenders working. Plus, over a dozen Tampa Bay area spots now offer take-home cocktails. Welcome to the age of bottled margaritas and Mason jar Mai Tais.
Hotels around Tampa Bay have many vacant rooms as people stay home to practice social distancing. The upside? A lot of toilet paper is sitting around unused.
To get supplies out into the community and help employees from losing working hours, The Epicurean Hotel is launching a grocery store drive-through in Hyde Park.
If Denis Phillips, beloved local meteorologist, can figure out this working from home thing, so can the rest of us. There’s something comforting about watching Tampa Bay’s favorite suspender-wearing weatherman sharing the news from his living room. It’s also a reminder of his famous Rule #7 that regularly goes viral during hurricane season: “Don’t freak out.”
Finally, here are some uplifting words from Times sports reporter Joey Knight.
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