COVID-19 arrived in Wilton only recently, but its impact has already been significant. Residents have retreated to their homes, leaving schools, offices, parks, shops and restaurants largely deserted.
While crowds may have vanished, acts of kindness are visible everywhere. Like the daffodils popping up in flowerbeds all over town, empathy and compassion are in full bloom.
Much of the empathy goes to Wilton’s small business owners and their workers who are struggling with the sudden loss of income. Residents are actively trying to support local enterprises in creative ways: purchasing gift cards, ordering takeout, even pre-paying for future services to help businesses meet their current needs. “We have to help them survive,” said one customer picking up an order at Hunan Cafe recently. Another customer was observed deliberately over-paying her bill, saying to the manager, “Please, share it with your staff.”
That spirit of generosity has also been extended by Wilton resident attorneys, Bill Lalor and Tamara Conway, who are offering free legal consultations for individuals, small businesses or non-profits in Wilton who are facing urgent legal issues with employment matters, business interruptions, insurance or other questions. The Law Offices of William P. Lalor have set up an online calendar to schedule a free consultation to members of the Wilton community.
Certainly, there was kindness in Wilton before COVID-19. But it appears to have taken on new life as the pandemic has begun to affect daily life for everyone. There is a heightened sense we are all in this together. Perhaps it is the realization that we are all vulnerable, and dependent on each other to help prevent the spread of the disease. Perhaps it stems from gratefulness about our own good fortune, if we have the job security or good health to handle the virus.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear Wilton residents are responding to the pandemic by reaching out to those in need of help, especially when it comes to checking on elderly neighbors and assisting with grocery shopping.
Young people are often taking the lead. Piper Chase, a junior at Wilton High School, mobilized a group of friends “…to help people in need during this scary and confusing time by delivering groceries and supplies free of charge” to anyone in need. In the wake of social distancing, she felt it was important to maintain connections to others in the community. “We don’t know how long this new way of living is going to last, so it’s important that we stay connected and care for one another,” she said. Chase and friends have named their effort “Warrior Helping Hands,” and have even set up an email for those in need to reach out.
Sydney Iannuzzi, a Wilton 14-year-old with Smith Magenis Syndrome, is offering similar delivery service with the help of her mother, Jennifer, who realized these food deliveries could help others while also helping her daughter, whose special needs are particularly challenging without a school routine and her usual supports.
“Truly this is a win/win for all,” said Jennifer. Among other “special deliveries,” as Sydney calls them, the Iannuzzis have made several deliveries to Wilton Food Pantry on behalf of individual donors.
Speaking of the Wilton Food Pantry, it faced a crisis when the pandemic forced the closure of Comstock Community Center, where the Pantry is housed. A temporary pantry has been set up at the Wilton Police Department headquarters. But that hasn’t stopped people from donating in small and large ways. Most recently, Berkshire Hathaway’s Wilton office pooled donations in order to purchase $1,000 worth of Village Market gift cards, which Village Market then matched–all to be donated to Wilton Food Pantry.
Village Market is doing even more, trying to source PPE (personal protective equipment, such as surgical masks and gloves) for the emergency responders at Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and Police and Fire Departments.
Others offering Wilton’s first responders some respite: CT Coffee is thanking them for keeping everyone safe despite the uncertainty amidst this pandemic. The restaurant is offering free coffee and bagels for first responders. (They just need to call ahead and pick up at the curb.)
In this pandemic, priorities are shifting. Organizations like Hands Off Our Schools (HOOS) are re-directing away from their usual efforts in order to help with the COVID-19 response. A recent announcement on the HOOS group’s Facebook page stated the group would, for now, be used “to facilitate and source individual-level support for state and local COVID-response in CT” with the desire that “members can organize around and help crowd-source specific needs on a local or broader basis.” Leadership at HOOS believes its collective membership and active social media presence can make a real impact, but also encouraged individual members, “If you see a need, do what you can.”
Social media isn’t always known for kindness and empathy, but right now, Wilton social media is replete with random acts of kindness. Just a few examples include: an offer of spare toys to families with kids at home; a proposal for children to write letters to the elderly in local nursing homes unable to have visitors; posts of uplifting and amusing memes to lighten our spirits.
If there is a silver lining to this unprecedented and devastating pandemic, perhaps it will be that these acts of kindness–driven by concern for our fellow citizens and putting community before individual needs and wants–continue after the pandemic is over.
Have a kindness to share? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll try to add them to this article.
We’ll keep a running log of kindnesses we hear about, here!
Southern Yankee/Blue Star Bazaar
Southern Yankee and Blue Star Bazaar have set up a little free library and book exchange on their shared porch at 237 Danbury Rd.; Southern Yankee has also put out a bin for a costume swap to keep little ones busy with dress up.
In her spare time, Southern Yankee’s Jennifer Angerame–whose business is embroidery and expert stitching, is making medical masks and scrub caps. ❤️ this!