The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to many within the Bellefonte community. However, students became aware of the challenges and took it upon themselves to give back to their community and help those in need.
Students have taken initiative in their own time away from school to respond to the pandemic and do what they can to help. Not only have students participated in volunteer work, but they have also completed simple acts of kindness to spread some joy during a challenging time.
Senior Meredith Frey is one of the star students who took initiative. In March of 2020, Penn State launched a program, the Manufacturing and Sterilization for COVID-19 (MASC) Initiative. The program included over 350 researchers who worked together to create solutions to help Pennsylvania. Meredith did what she could to help and worked with the program by delivering equipment to and from Hershey and State College.
“They [MASC] took medical supplies made by 3D printers and such in State College to Hershey for the hospitals there. I volunteered to drive the supplies from State College to Hershey and back,” Meredith said.
Her simple act of kindness helped many researchers and experts get the supplies necessary to combat the pandemic.
Bellefonte High students also went out of their way to perform acts of kindness for ordinary citizens at risk. Senior Class President Nathan Taylor noticed the struggles that older members of the community have endured as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nathan’s grandfather is one of the many elders who have concerns about leaving their homes due to the risk of exposure and continues to remain in isolation. So, Nathan keeps his grandfather company during his spare time.
“I’ve been spending time with my grandfather since he doesn’t want to go out in public. I ski with him and play guitar and board games on the weekends to keep him company,” he said.
The past few months have taught Nathan the importance of family and ensuring the safety of others.
“The little things can help. Simple things like staying in touch with those who have been isolated can make a huge difference for them,” he said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Bellefonte YMCA distributed food to members of the community. Marion-Walker’s third grade teacher Mrs. Jennifer Carroll volunteered a few times each week, along with other volunteers that included students from BAHS.
“The YMCA food distributions started as soon as the COVID-19 shutdown began. They were every day during the week at lunchtime. The YMCA continued to hand out food during the summer months and still has food distribution different days each week at different locations,” she said.
The YMCA had, and still has, multiple locations throughout Centre County and a bus that delivered meals to distribution centers on a weekly basis, making food available to a wide range of community members. There were some bumpy times at the start of the distribution centers due to a high demand. However, as time went on, more food donations were received and there was more preparation.
The YMCA accepted all volunteers and allowed students to do their part in helping the community by providing them the option to distribute food if they were 18 years old. But, students who were younger still came out to show support by greeting everyone who came through. All participants followed COVID-19 guidelines by wearing a mask and gloves and practiced social distancing.
“The students there helped by greeting people picking up food, waving, smiling and providing general support in a time when many needed just to see a friendly uplifting face,” Mrs. Carroll said.
Students participating helped spread positivity to the community by doing their part in coming out to show support and continue to do so.
As the Bellefonte community continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we all work together and perform acts of kindness. Everyone can use a little happiness during this time and it is the little things that matter, whether it is spending time with loved ones or lending a helping hand to those in need.