By: Lexi Ali
In my hometown of Brooklyn, NY, four of my childhood friends decided to use quarantine to give back to our home city, which desperately needed a boost of morale during the peak of COVID-19.
As defined by Lexico, Kind·ness (/ˈkīn(d)nəs/) is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Kindness can be exhibited in many forms, but what does it mean to be kind? Is it the feeling you get from buying a stranger’s coffee, or lending a hand to someone who needs it the most? For brother and sister, Tyler and Mariana, and sisters, Renee and Taylor, kindness during COVID-19 meant helping the city we love the most, New York, get back on its feet.
Tyler, Mariana, Renee, and Taylor all live in my hometown of NYC, which back in March-April was the epicenter of COVID-19. Surrounded by stories from social media and the 24-hour news cycle, the four of them were inspired to act, especially Taylor as she is a current nursing major. Before asking them about why they founded Chances for Charity, I asked them, “What does kindness mean to you?” In response, they said, “For us, kindness is taking initiative to do good even in the toughest situations and not wanting anything in return. We have always looked to help others and volunteer our time when we could. Being in isolation, there was not much opportunity to do so – we had to take matters into our own hands!”
According to Taylor, “Hearing of the overcrowding, lack of supplies, and overworked and exhausted first responders and staff of hospitals/medical offices throughout NYC, my sister and I wanted to do something to show appreciation to those on the frontlines.” After sharing the idea with childhood friends, Tyler and Mariana, they expressed they would love to be a part of their team. The four created a social media page, Chances for Charity, on April 16, 2020, with the mission to collect donations and allocate 100% of these funds to local hospitals’ COVID-19 relief funds, towards meals for the frontlines, and to others in need due to the pandemic.
The four of them have provided meals to over 110 different groups of frontline and essential workers, such as hospital units, medical offices, EMT stations, firehouses, precincts, supermarkets, mail stations, and public school staff that were providing child care for families’ of essential workers or meal distribution to students. In April, unemployment grew to 14.5%. As a result, families were struggling. Renee, Taylor, Mariana, and Tyler decided to allocate tablets to youth group homes to facilitate online learning, toiletries, and other supplies for NYC’s homeless population, and funds to food banks and drives. Tyler told me that they are “holding their first in-person event on August 22nd, which will be a school supply drive to help elementary school students in need.”
I asked them about a donation that hit home for them. Renee responded saying, “Our most uplifting donation was made on May 22nd to the Maimonides Cancer and Breast Center in Brooklyn, NY, where mine and Taylor’s beloved late Aunt Celeste was undergoing treatment. The staff of this center demonstrated nothing short of the utmost kindness while caring for our aunt.” What did they do? They provided lunch for all 180 staff members in her honor. This donation gave me goosebumps, as my mom had also undergone breast cancer treatment from that same cancer center.
Being kind does not mean just being nice, but rather choosing to be nice in the face of cruelty in this world. Chances for Charity (C4C) embodies the mission of Channel Kindness to spread stories of kindness, resilience, and community because Renee, Taylor, Mariana, and Tyler went above the call to help. Together, they raised over $30,000 by bringing together our community to show appreciation to essential workers while supporting local businesses. Mariana added, “We always received photos back from the groups we donated to and seeing how happy they were made everything worth it!”
In my hometown of Brooklyn, NY, four of my childhood friends decided to use quarantine to give back to our home city, which desperately needed a boost of morale during the peak of COVID-19. New York City, the city that never sleeps, was sleeping, and needed help. In isolation, four New Yorkers decided that someone else’s plate was bigger than their own and decided to take action to show the resiliency of New York, particularly what it means to be New York strong. I’ll end with some words the four of them shared with me, “Kindness is putting the thoughts to actions, caring for one another, and showing respect. It’s a ripple effect and we hope we inspire others to do the same in their own ways.”