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Column: We're looking for the helpers during the pandemic
Shannon Casas high res
Shannon Casas

I am not a generous person.

If you’ve been reading this column for long, you know I’m a foster parent. Let me tell you, that’s not motivated by some great generosity in my heart. It’s just the right thing to do. 

If you’re a fan of the Enneagram, I’m a Type 1. I’m motivated to do the right thing, be good, however you want to put it.

In fact, that desire gets in the way of generosity. If I can’t find the right present for someone, I will flail around continuing to look for just the perfect thing and will instead get them nothing at all. 

Thankfully my husband isn’t big on gifts, either. For a little more pop psychology, if you’ve heard of the five love languages, we speak “quality time.” His birthday was the day before Thanksgiving and I did manage to get him one gift: a pepper grinder. Ours broke a couple of months back, and I hadn’t gotten around to getting one. He does like his pepper.

My perfectionist nature gets in the way of accepting generosity, too. I know it is right to repay a kindness. So it can be hard for me to accept help without feeling crippling guilt when I can’t or don’t offer the same kindness in return.

We’re looking for
the helpers

This year has been a tough time for us all, but beyond the pandemic, politics, protests, economic woes and general upheaval of 2020, there have been an incredible number of acts of human kindness worthy of recognition. Please share with us your stories of great kindness, and we will publish some of them for all to enjoy during the holiday season. Email to news@gainesvilletimes.com with the subject line “Helpers.” Include your city of residence and a phone number so a reporter can follow up. Photos can also be submitted.

Thankfully there are other types of people in the world, not just Type 1s. There are Type 2s, the helpers — and seven other types, if you were wondering.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “look for the helpers,” especially this year.

The phrase from Mr. Rogers was aimed at children who needed some comfort amid scary news. Mr. Rogers first aired in 1968. There’s been plenty of scary news in the decades since, but obviously 2020 is one for the books.

Early in the pandemic, The Times began shining a light on some of those helpers. Not the Enneagram Type 2, of course, but just those who were doing what they could to help others, no matter their motivation. Like those who were sewing cloth masks before the big retailers could get up to speed. Packs of five face masks in floral or plaid patterns weren’t on the shelves last spring. 

Of course, there are the health care workers showing up to work day after day. They probably knew their job would be hard at times, but I don’t know that even the best training manuals could have prepared them for this.

There were others collecting and distributing food to those hit by the economic realities, often in drive-thru setups. 

There’s also the person who bought my coffee in the Starbucks drive-thru a couple of weeks ago. It’s one of those simple gestures that just restores a little bit of faith in humanity, sometimes when you need it most. Thank you whoever you are.

And there are the people who continue working in the basement of The Little House, where foster parents can go pick up clothing and other necessities to supplement what is provided by the state. I donated a few items there a couple of months ago, and they were following strict guidelines but still working cheerfully to sort items.

Each holiday season, some people go out of their way to show a little kindness to others. This year, those acts of kindness have been especially important for months, not just this holiday season. The Times wants to hear those stories. The small, the large — whatever will help us all restore a little faith in one another, in humanity. Whether it happened in March or just the other day, please share with us your stories of great kindness, and we will publish some of them for all to enjoy during the holiday season. Email to news@gainesvilletimes.com with the subject line “Helpers.” Include your city of residence and a phone number so a reporter can follow up. Photos can also be submitted.

On another note, I told you last week what I was thankful for. There was one item that was cut. I was thankful my family had not had to quarantine yet. I wrote that I had probably jinxed myself. Well, I had. The day after I wrote the column and before it published, I got the call from the Department of Public Health that a family member needed to quarantine. I won’t tell you all about that now, because we’re only seven days in, but look for more on that next week.


Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a North Hall resident. 

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