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Behind the pandemic and its anxiety, a local woman sees community shining through

Christina Johnson-Foster says she has found a positive in the Facebook group she and her sister-in-law have created

Like many of us recently, Christina Johnson-Foster wondered how to spend her time while holed up at home.

“When it all began to hit the fan, I posted on Facebook that I hoped people who are still getting paychecks would help the people who are not,” she said.

Johnson-Foster’s sister-in-law, Britt, saw the post and the two began to brainstorm. What could they do (from within their houses) that would help? They started a Facebook group: Overcoming COVID19 together SSM!  The group links together those who are able to help with those who need it most during this crisis.

The group was quickly inundated with offers to pick up groceries, sew face masks for medical workers, and bring deliveries to local food banks. There are posts confirming solidarity with front-line medical workers, as well as offers to listen to and comfort others who are struggling. 

Johnson-Foster’s intention was to act as a conduit to help others get what they need, all while maintaining appropriate social distancing.

“As much as they need things right now, Harvest Algoma doesn't really want a lot of people coming there 500 times a day dropping food off. So this past weekend, we hosted a drive where my sister-in-law had people drop things off in her truck while she was inside. And (earlier this week) she took a pallet of food to Harvest Algoma.” 

Her motivation to help was two-fold: “I’m a high school teacher at CASS; I miss these kids. I worry about some of them at home, not getting enough to eat,” she says. “Also, I had a double-lung transplant ten years ago; I’m one of those immunocompromised people they’re talking about. I really can’t go anywhere; I’m totally isolated at my house. But I can do something behind my computer.”

Despite the mounting anxiety and selfish hoarding that have accompanied this pandemic, Johnson-Johnson-Foster also witnessed something else: community.

“Facebook is my window to the world; I’m seeing so much positivity. I’m delighted and proud of our city; here we are, trying to help each other and be positive. Facebook is an interesting beast; often people will use it to show off. But I think right now, people are using it to entertain each other and lift each other up. 

“On Friday night, we had people post that they needed grocery items; within 45 minutes there were offers to get the stuff, and have it dropped off. It’s so cool.” 

Johnson-Foster’s ultimate hope is that this pandemic ends soon, and there will be no need for the group anymore.

“When we started, we thought this will help for this two week period,” she says. “Now it seems like it will be a lot longer than two weeks.”

“There are organizations set up all over the community to help people out; we don’t need to be another organization. But in this time where you’ll have one person working at the Soup Kitchen or whatever [because of social isolation] we can help. We can help people, and share things. I hope our community comes out of this with a sense that they’d never had before; that they’re closer to people, and can rely on each other, and make this a nicer place to live.”

If you need help, or want to help others (drivers are especially needed), join the group here