The 'kindness postcard' and other heartwarming gestures sparked by coronavirus

A neighbor put a supporting sign about Covid-19 case in front of their house at the town of New Rochelle in New York, United States on March 12, 2020.
Anadolu Agency

As the coronavirus pandemic leaves people all over the world in self-isolation, one woman has created a simple way for neighbors to help each other.

Becky Wass, from the county of Cornwall in the U.K., created a postcard stating "Hello! If you are self-isolating, I can help," with space for people to fill out their contact details and whether they would like help with shopping, posting mail or simply a phone call.

Wass's husband Jonny Green posted an image of the card on Twitter on Friday, urging people to wash their hands and print it out. The card quickly went viral on social media with the hashtag #viralkindness.

MrJonnyGreen: Becky my wonderful wife came up with a great idea last night, and it's already going viral. Wash your hands, print this, fill it out and pop it in your neighbour's letterbox. Simples. #viralkindness #COVID_19uk #coronavirusuk

Wass wrote on her Facebook page on Thursday: "I've been feeling pretty helpless watching the news. Maybe you have too? I wanted to do something about it, so I've made a postcard that I'll be posting to my older neighbours as this progresses (after washing my hands!)."

"If just one person feels less lonely or isolated when faced with this pandemic, then I'll feel better about it (I hope!) Coronavirus is scary. Let's make kindness go viral. Feel free to share/print/use."

People on neighborhood website Nextdoor were also posting offers of help to buy goods or run errands. Nextdoor's community team has run sponsored posts encouraging people to "Get involved and help your neighbors," with a link to its blog suggesting people help with childcare, create support groups and posting on the site if they need help.

In another example of community spirit, videos were shared over social media this weekend of Italian citizens singing and dancing during a nationwide lockdown. The videos, from various cities and towns, show people singing from balconies and windows in an attempt to boost morale. 

Some shops start 'community hour'

It's not just those self-isolating that may need help. Australian grocery chain Woolworths said it would implement an elderly and disabled-only shopping hour between 7am and 8am to make it easier for people to shop, starting Tuesday. It has around 3,000 stores in the country and expects the move to last until "at least Friday," it stated in a tweet. Over the weekend, stores urged people not to hoard goods and limited some items per customer.

Coles, another Australian chain that has about 2,500 outlets, said it would only allow elderly and disabled people through its doors for the first hour of trading, from Wednesday. "'Community Hour' will help improve access during this time of unprecedented demand. Stores will also close no later than 8pm so team members can clean & restock," it said in a tweet.

Coles: From Wednesday the first hour of trade in all Coles supermarkets will be exclusively open to the elderly & disabled. "Community Hour" will help improve access during this time of unprecedented demand. Stores will also close no later than 8pm so team members can clean & restock. 

An Iceland grocery store in Northern Ireland has said it will open only for elderly people between 8am and 9am.

People are also donating funds. A search on the GoFundMe website for "coronavirus" brings up more than 6,000 results, many for Italian hospitals. One campaign for the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan has raised more than 4 million euros ($4.47 million) via the site.