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How social media can help people during difficult time

In practicing “social distancing” in steps to contain the coronavirus, who knew social media could be so productive.

Warren’s Chris Cummings started the public Facebook group, “Helping Hands Warren, Pa,” that had over 3,100 members by Saturday. There were close to 2,000 members in 48 hours after starting the page.

“I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everybody,” said Cummings, posted on the site “designed for members of the Warren, Pa community during the COVID pandemic.”

“Whether you’ve offered help with food, a ride somewhere, picking up food and delivering it to someone, posting about food drive locations, or spreading information about where to find certain items that are scarce, every kind gesture has been appreciated and means so much,” she said.

First thing’s first — the Facebook page directs members to cdc.gov for accurate information on the coronavirus, and doesn’t begin to claim to be a source for health medical advice. Cummings works for the family business — Huber Blacktop Company; she’s not a doctor.

But she said she’s fully capable of running an errand for someone in need.

“Those who are in need of food, formula, diapers, toiletries, medication, a babysitter, or anything at all, can reach out on this page to other local members,” she posted on the “About” section of the page. “It’s also for those persons who are at considered high risk and are too afraid to go to the store, etc., and need someone to lend a hand and run an errand for them. This is a judgement-free, drama-free page.”

There are daily updates from social media sites run from our known health professionals like Warren General Hospital and Warren Pediatric Associates, to name a couple.

But this one seemed quite necessary in a much different way.

“It’ll help spread the word, I think, to older citizens,” said Cummings, “which will grow the page and help even more people. I’m just so excited over this… in that it’s really helping people in need and showing how great our community is.

“I know there are a lot of parents, many who are single parents… who may have lost their jobs during this and need the help,” she said. “I’m sure that there are elderly people who are hesitant or too scared to leave their homes for fear of getting sick because they are considered high-risk. Warren has a lot of people with a big heart and that has been evident by how fast the page is growing and the amazing people stepping up to offer their assistance.”

There’s nothing official about the page. The real story is about the sheer volume of responses it has garnered.

“Is the Warren Walmart open today? I know that they shortened their hours through this whole pandemic…but I was told that they weren’t allowed to open at all? Anyone know anything on this?” one member posted to 11 responses.

When Cummings’ son was hospitalized recently, “there were so many people in the community that stepped up to help us out and this is a way for me to help pay it forward,” she said. “I just started the page. It’s the amazing community and kind-hearted people that have been making this possible. With all the negativity nowadays, it’s great to see people coming together to help each other out, many times a total stranger. Anyone that needs help with things like toiletries, food, diapers, medication, shopping, a babysitter, etc., can reach out for help. So far everybody that has made a post asking for help has been helped in some way.

“I knew we had an awesome community, this just solidifies it even more,” said Cummings. “I was seriously in tears last night when I got time to finally look over all the posts. And it takes a lot to make me cry. LOL. We will all get through this just fine… together!”

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