A new online movement has recently become widespread across Canada as a way to provide help to communities, especially to those who are at high risk if they contract COVID-19.
BBC News reports that “more than 35 Facebook groups have been set up in 72 hours to serve communities in places including Ottawa, Halifax and Annapolis County in Nova Scotia, with more than 30,000 members between them.”
Acts of kindness across the globe have ranged “from delivering soup to the elderly in the UK to an exercise class held for quarantined residents on their balconies in Spain.”
Canadians, who has long been stereotyped by the media as “kind to a fault” have recently established the “caremongering” movement to help others.
Under the social media hashtag #caremongering, one can read about the dozens of acts of kindness being done across Canada.
The initial caremongering group was founded by Mita Han with the assistance of Valentina Harper.
Harper shared with BBC News that the pair decided to start the #caremongering movement to combat widespread fear of the coronavirus.
“Scaremongering is a big problem,” Harper told the BBC. “We wanted to switch that around and get people to connect on a positive level, to connect with each other.
“It's spread the opposite of panic in people, brought out community and camaraderie, and allowed us to tackle the needs of those who are at-risk all the time - now more than ever," she added.
The Toronto based online group called “CareMongering-TO: TO Community Response to COVID19” has amassed more than 12,000 people since Han started it only a week ago. The turnout has exceeded Harper’s expectation who thought the group would consist of “a couple [of] dozen people.”
Harper shared the benefit of local groups as they are “geared to specific neighborhoods.”
She said, “It's really shown us the need that people have to have some level of reassurance and hope.”
She continued, "Anxiety, isolation and lack of hope affect you. In providing this virtual community which allows people to help each other, I think it is really showing people there is still hope for humanity. We haven't lost our hope."
The way posts in the caremongering group works are twofold.
People in need of something, like a bottle of hand soap, for example, can post an #ISO – meaning "in search of" – message on the page. Conversely, people with extra supplies of looking to help community members in other ways can use #offer to extend a helping hand.
Additionally, the group has become a forum for discussions, sharing news articles and distributing information about shop openings and closings around town.
Paul Viennau, a member of Halifax’s caremongering group shared that the amount of help given to him felt "like a hug.”
“This is an opportunity for people to reach out and help each other.” Viennau shares with BBC News.
Viennau, who has been disabled for the past 29 years and is immunocompromised shares his concern over his lack of hand sanitizer.
“I live on hand sanitizer in normal circumstances. I started to worry about running out three days ago."
Fortunately, his need was met by someone in the Halifax caremongering group after a friend asked for hand sanitizer on his behalf.
"I am completely and sincerely feeling some love over it," he said. "If I get the flu or coronavirus I will be in [the] hospital,” he added.
"This will give me a fighting chance. Thank you."
While the caremongering movement provides help for those in need, it also provides “a place for people to see acts of goodwill in their communities.”
For instance, Rhia Rave Fae shared that the group was “a safe haven to restore my faith in humanity.”
She added, "It's easy to feel alone and powerless, especially if you're isolated. Being able to offer people emotional support, share information, and even just swap ideas of how to pass the time has been life-changing.”
"This group shows the good in people and proves we can do amazing things when we come together,” Fae added.
Harper told the BBC that the group’s ability to thrive online says “something about Canadians in general.”
"I think there is an international belief that Canada is a very polite country," she told the British news outlet. "And Canadians are so nice. I think there is something Canadian about this because as our population is small as a country, there is a tendency to look out for each other, even if there are a few bad apples who buy all the toilet paper!”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Monkey Business Images
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.