For the past few weeks, we've been collecting stories about the kindnesses shown to others as the coronavirus crisis led to profound changes in our daily lives.
We've already acknowledged the quarter-ton of barbecue the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. ordered from Couch's restaurant; the loaves of bread sent to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen by Niedlov's customers; the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduate who is 3D-printing parts for transparent face shields; efforts to cheer residents of senior-living homes; and the thank-you cards made by professional artists for local medical workers.
Here's a collection of several such stories today — some sent as a quick email to say thanks to a helper, some sent as news releases spotlighting corporate gestures of goodwill. If you have stories to pass along, see the accompanying box for how to submit them.
Passing the time with familiar faces
My parents got a call the first week of crisis from a former neighbor, Dixie Eiseman, saying they were going to drop off something on the porch. They dropped off two puzzles and a match game for my parents to play. And my dad has Alzheimer's, so it also helps him remember us all, especially since he can't see us all now. Mom asks Dad who the people are in the picture. Dixie got the pictures off my Facebook. I cried when Mom told me what they had done.
— Jamie Poole
My sweet neighbors, Ry and Katie, have given generously of their time to go to the grocery for us. They have to know how much they are appreciated.
Pratt Homes partners with Niedlov's
Continuing its history of giving back to Chattanooga and surrounding communities, Pratt Home Builders delivered 500 individually packaged baked goods from Niedlov's Bakery to provide breakfast for health-care workers at CHI Memorial Hospital.
"It's simply the Chattanooga spirit to pull together to bring comfort and appreciation to our neighbors in a time of crisis, and we are honored to contribute to supporting these true American heroes who are going into our hospitals every day," said Win Pratt, president of Pratt Home Builders, in a news release.
Pratt Home Builders has built more than 1,800 homes in 45 communities over the past 22 years and has been recognized by Builder Magazine as one of America's Top 200 Builders for the past 10 years. Its most recent philanthropic work was construction and completion of Chattanooga's first Habitat for Humanity Builder's Blitz home last fall. Its history of charitable giving also includes the St. Jude Dream Home, Erlanger Children's Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Siskin Foundation, Emily's Power for a Cure, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross and the American Haitian Foundation, among others.
Mohawk donates face shields to police officers, first responders
When Mohawk data-management specialist Alicia Kilgore heard the North Georgia company was producing face shields and medical gowns for local health-care providers, it sparked an idea.
"I was thinking about one of my family members in law enforcement and how when these officers go out on calls, they don't know if that person is sick or if they've been exposed to the virus — they just get dispatched to the call," she said. "A lot of the police and fire departments are providing things like gloves, hand sanitizer and masks when they're available, but I thought if we could donate face shields, it would give them added protection."
Her idea was met with enthusiasm by the Mohawk Home team, and to date the company has donated face shields to the Gordon County Sheriff's Department, Calhoun Police Department, Adairsville Police Department, Whitfield County Sheriff's Department, Dalton Police Department and Catoosa County Fire Department.
"When we started producing the gowns and face shields [in April], we were responding to the need shared by our local hospitals," said Nikki Robinson, Mohawk Home senior director of human resources said. "We quickly realized that the need reached beyond health care, and we had an opportunity to support our local first responders as well. Anytime an officer stands close enough to a vehicle to see and speak to a driver or a firefighter responds to a call, they are going to be closer than 6 feet of another person. We feel honored that we can provide these items for many of our local first responders while they continue protecting and serving our communities during this ongoing health crisis."
In addition to producing medical gowns at Mohawk Home's Antioch Road facility in Dalton, the company is now producing both medical gowns and face shields at its location on Marine Drive in Calhoun. Franco Sanchez-Camarillo, one of Mohawk's process engineers, reverse-engineered the easily assembled face shield that utilizes elastic from the company's existing bathmat production line. Once other components were sourced, the team quickly learned the assembly process and began producing the shields in mass quantities.
"The requests for these items have come in rapidly, so we looked at how we could expand our operations," said Bart Hill, Mohawk Home senior vice president of product development and operations. "We're currently working up to producing 5,000 gowns a day and 10,000 face shields a day. It's our intention to continue donating items regularly and providing the remainder of them to health-care organizations at cost. This isn't a long-term operation for Mohawk, but we have a heart for our communities and are committed to helping while this need is so great."
In total, Mohawk has donated approximately 1,500 gowns and 1,000 face shields to first responders and health-care organizations including Hamilton Healthcare System, AdventHealth Gordon and Emory University Hospital.
BlueCross thanks health-care workers, first responders
If you see yard signs in your community or around town that read "These are our heroes" or "We can't thank you enough," those messages of support are from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, said Dalya J. Qualls, director of corporate communications for Tennessee's biggest health insurers.
"Our employees have been wanting to say 'thank you,' and this was our way to visibly show our support for health-care workers, first responders and all of those individuals who provide lifesaving care," Qualls said in a news release. "The signs were provided to every employee (more than 6,500) in every location across the state."
Also as part of their appreciation, the company sent meals to health-care workers at COVID-19 testing sites, the Hamilton County Health Department, Parkridge, Erlanger and CHI Memorial hospitals.
"In total, we provided just over 500 meals from locally owned restaurants to show our support for those on the frontlines of this crisis," Qualls said.
Face masks from Cleveland State
When Chota Community Health Services had a shortage of personal protective equipment, Chris Jones, mechatronics instructor in the Advanced Technology Institute at Cleveland State Community College, used a 3D printer to print and build face masks for the nonprofit health-services provider based in Madisonville, Tennessee. To date, Jones has supplied Chota with 100 PPE to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Friends in deed are friends indeed.” During these uncertain times, it’s reassuring to have people who come through for you. Whether it’s medical professionals going the extra mile in the fight against the coronavirus or a neighbor who has delivered groceries to your doorstep, here’s a way to offer your thanks. Tell us the examples of courage and kindness shown to you. Your stories of gratitude will remind us that together we will make it through. Submit your stories online at www.timesfreepress.com or email Life@timesfreepress.com.