How Lebanon residents are helping each other during new coronavirus outbreak

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An epidemiologist answers the biggest questions she’s getting about coronavirus. Wochit

As the new coronavirus pandemic has turned life in Lebanon County upside down this week, community leaders and residents have offered a helping hand to those who need it. 

Some have simply posted in community Facebook groups, giving people a heads up if they see a store stocked with increasingly elusive toilet paper or cleaning products. Others have taken it a step further, offering to help the elderly and other vulnerable people who are more at risk from the new coronavirus. 

Some say it’s par for the course for Lebanon residents to be there for each other, global pandemic or not. 

“I think you see this all the time in Lebanon,” said Cornell Wilson, a former city council member who recently started a Facebook page called Lebanon Helping Lebanon. “It’s a very giving and caring community.”

Wilson said about dozen people have already reached out to him through the page, offering to go to the grocery store for elderly people who may be afraid to, or even to get their prescriptions or pay an urgent bill.

They’ve already assisted a few people, and plan to continue doing so. 

The situation in Lebanon County is not yet as dire as it is in the suburbs of Philadelphia or other parts of the country, but Wilson said he expects the requests to increase as time goes on. 

“We’ll do this for as long as our health and safety are not at risk,” Wilson said. 

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More: Lebanon County has its first coronavirus case confirmed by Pa. health department

‘We’re not going to turn our backs’

People are making similar efforts elswhere in the county as well. 

When Palmyra resident Ron Scherer moved to the area from New York five years ago, he noticed how much everyone looked out for each other – a community member even helped him get a job. 

Now, Scherer wants to turn that around . Earlier this week, he posted in a Palmyra community Facebook page offering to get groceries for elderly people after he saw a viral photo of an elderly woman standing in a grocery store, surrounded by empty shelves. 

Two people reached out with concerns about a woman in her late 90s who lived alone. Soon after, with the aid of Caring Cupboard, they were able to deliver a package to the woman. 

“Obviously, you feel the need because this is a crisis,” Scherer said. “This one does seem specifically harder for older people. It’s almost like you want to fight for them … we’re not going to turn our backs.”

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Farmer’s Market selling essential items

The center area of the first floor of the Lebanon Farmer’s Market is usually reserved for seating and sometimes sale of seasonal items. 

With the recent order to shutdown sit-down restaurant service, the Farmer’s Market is using the area to sell paper towels, cleaning products and other essential items that have been hard to find in local supermarkets.

John Harper, the owner of a produce and food stand at the market, was able to get supplies from a distributor he works with and brought in skids of items to the market on Wednesday. 

Harper said he could see the frustration in people who were desperate to find these items and wanted to see if he could ease their burden. 

The market is selling the items for below-market price. Rolls of toilet paper are going for under $1 and a pack of 15 paper towels costs $15.95. People wary of going into the market can call ahead to arrange a curbside pick-up.

Owner Joya Morrissey said the endeavor isn’t a moneymaker, and they don’t want it to be. 

“If we can’t bring people in together and sit down, at least we can use the space we have to help,” Morrissey said. 

How you can help

The United Way of Lebanon County started a fund that will be used to assist those affected by the pandemic. 

Do you have a story related to the coronavirus pandemic that you want to share? Email nshelly@ldnews.com

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