It has been the bleakest of times since March of last year and it continues to be so for many people.
Through these pandemic-laced months, we have heard Dr. Bonnie Henry repeatedly call for people to be kind. She said it so often that it soon became white noise, was featured in myriad memes and, alas, was dismissed by the more conspiracy theory minded among us.
But being kind amid the pandemic really has prevailed, despite the cynics among us who scoffed at the good doctor’s seemingly naive, aw-shucks appeal to be good in these bad times.
Consider the caller from Lac Le Jeune who picked up a copy of Kamloops This Week in early December and read a letter to the editor from a feisty senior named Grace Guevin.
It seems some miscreant stole the 88-year-old’s charger for her scooter, thereby also absconding with her mode of transport. Gavin’s missive was a lament for the paucity of punishment these days.
As she wrote in her letter: “I was raised by two wonderful parents, who always warned — if you steal, you pay, at the woodshed.”
The charger that was pilfered is worth about $275, which to Guevin is a heck of a lot of money.
Enter our caller from Lac Le Jeune. He read the letter, wanted to help, but wished to remain anonymous — so he sent me a cheque for $300, which I cashed.
With six crisp portraits of King in my pocket, I drove to Guevin’s residence and, while masked up, handed her the cash.
She was, in her words, “over the moon.”
Not long after my visit, a caller from Clearwater noted he saw the letter reprinted in that town’s newspaper. He, too, wanted to donate to the cause and was to also send a cheque.
This generosity seems to be as contagious as COVID-19 during this pandemic.
Consider the annual KTW Christmas Cheer Fund, which raises money for five local non-profit groups. Readers’ donations in 2020 — amid the most serious health crisis that has led to an ongoing economic crisis — resulted in a record-shattering total of $93,000.
Remember also the spring Rotary Food Drive, held just a month into the pandemic. Organizers were extremely worried as the economy stalled and store shelves were bare of various staples.
Despite all that, and in spite of figuring out the then-new COVID-19 protocols, the April food drive gathered an unprecedented 70,000 pounds of food — enough to keep the food bank shelves stocked for six months. The fall food drive brought in 57,000 pounds of product, the largest autumn amount collected since 2013.
Recall, too, the annual Campout to End Youth Homelessness, held just seven days after the death of its founder, A Way Home Kamloops executive director Katherine McParland. The event more than doubled its fundraising goal of $50,000.
And there has been more, so much more, from strangers paying grocery store bills for others, to people devoting countless hours sewing masks, to volunteers standing outside seniors’ care homes and playing beautiful music.
These are dark days, indeed, and they will be with us for longer than many think. But these acts of kindness, these gifts of gratitude, illustrate that, at our core, we are better than cynicism. We are better than mockery. We are better than mindless conspiracy theories.
Ryunosuke Satoro, Japan’s father of the short story, nailed it: “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”