May-June 2020

Acts of kindness

The worst of times has brought out the best in many local residents

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The last thing most of us were expecting this spring was a pandemic. Within weeks, there was a new normal: Six feet apart. Meetings via Zoom. School days at home. Some people stepped up with acts of generosity and compassion, helping to bring strength to those around us.

From left: Sammy, Lauren and Michael Hemann with Megan Joe of So What Else. Courtesy photo

Kid to Kid

When Sammy Hemann, 16, overheard his mom chatting with friends about decluttering while they were stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak, he talked to his family about finding a way to donate items to families who could use them. Through online research, the Hemanns, who live in Potomac, landed on So What Else, a Rockville nonprofit that normally runs after-school and summer programs for underserved children but has been setting up distribution sites in the area to get food and other items to people in need. “We really wanted to make an impact directly with other children,” says Sammy, a sophomore at Landon School in Bethesda.

Sammy’s mom, Jennifer, emailed friends at Norwood School in Bethesda, where she works in admissions and her other children—Michael, 13, and Lauren, 11—go to school, and asked for donations of games, books, healthy snacks, and art and cleaning supplies. “Every time we come home from a walk or an adventure through the neighborhood, we find more bags of items at our front door,” Michael says. “We also offered to pick things up for people…but I think people are really enjoying a trip to our house to drop things off as their outing for the day.” Lauren asked for jobs around the house to earn money, and then bought snacks to donate.

Within two weeks, the Hemanns had transferred items piled in their foyer into their minivan and driven to So What Else’s collection spot three times. On the third trip, they also headed to a distribution site to help with handing out items. “If it’s just a few granola bars, it can make a big difference,” Lauren says.