When times of uncertainty arise, it’s easy to dwell on the negatives. Americans are currently buried in the somber news of toilet paper shortages, empty store shelves, social distancing, school closings, and the list goes on.

In 2020, citizens have the world at our fingertips for news, both good and bad. With approximately 223 million Americans reportedly using social media in 2019, there are plenty of sources to turn to. Amidst all of the negativity and misappropriated blame surrounding COVID-19, here a few heartwarming stories, happening right here in Dent County.

Meals for children at His Place

His Place Soup Kitchen announced in the wake of social distancing, and school closures, that lunches will be made available for children, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, through April 3. Director Ahleesha Elwood said the menu is subject to change as supplies may change.

The curbside pickup is available to any school-age child (preschool through 12th grade), who must be present at pickup time.

The sack lunch will consist of a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich or hot dog, Cheez-It crackers, and orange slices.

The weekly, Friday-night meal held 5-7 p.m. at His Place, has also been moved to a curbside, pick-up option as CDC recommends groups not gather.

If you want to assist His Place in its efforts, there are options for volunteering and donating of resources.

“The need for volunteers has been filled at this point. We are still following guidelines given by the CDC to keep groups of people down to a minimum,” Elwood said.

His Place also takes donations of food and monetary funds. To donate food items, send a message or call 573-739-1269. To donate monetarily, visit http://www.nharmony.org/giving.

“Many thanks and blessings to everyone who has reached out to help serve one way or another! We love our community, and it is our mission to continue to serve you as the Lord commands, with love,” Elwood said.

Bunker school provides meals, reading materials

Bunker R-III school district will provide free meals to students during the school closure, for those that sign up for this service. Meals will be available for pick-up or delivery (delivery in town or along regular bus routes) between 10 a.m. and noon on Tuesday and Thursday of each week, beginning Tuesday.

On Tuesdays, two breakfast and two lunch meals will be available, and on Thursdays, three breakfast and three lunch meals will be available. Meals are available for free to anyone 18 and under, regardless of what school they attend. No paperwork is required.

Children must be present in order for meals to be provided. There are two ways to sign up for this service: go to the district website (www.bunkerr3.k12.mo.us) and select the “Sign Up for Meals” option and fill out the form; or contact the building secretary at school to register.

As of March 18, over 90 children have signed up for the service.

In addition, since students will be home for an extended time and the town library will be closed, there is a cart of books, games, puzzles for people to take, free of charge.

North Wood R-IV providing meals starting March 30

North Wood R-IV announced its grab-and-go meal service for children beginning March 30. Parents are asked to sign up for the program at the school. Pickups for the meals are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Two breakfast bags and two lunch bags are included, per student, per pickup. For additional information, contact the school at 729-4607.

Salem R-80 offering meals starting March 30

Starting on March 30, breakfast and lunch will be available for any child ages 18 and under. Visit the Salem R-80 website to complete a survey if you are interested. The survey needs to be completed by Thursday.

There will be pick up locations set up throughout the district and those locations will be determined at a later date. Parents will be notified by email of those locations and that information will also be found on the district’s website. Breakfast and lunch will be distributed at the same time, and your child must be present when the meals are picked up.

Dent-Phelps R-III assisting families

Starting on March 30, Dent-Phelps R-III families can pick up breakfast and lunch for its students at no cost. Meals will be available on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the school from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Students must be present at the time of pickup in order to receive two days of breakfast and lunch.

Please RSVP so that staff can get a count of how much food to prepare by either using the link below or by calling 573-729-4680 x1000 and leaving a message stating your name, the name(s) of your children, and how many meals you are requesting.

Mom, daughter share art with residential care residents

Stephanie Strader and daughter, Preslie, filled bird feeders at Salem Residential Care, along with donating coloring books and colored pencils.

Salem MO Neighbor to Neighbor

A Facebook page has started, Salem MO Neighbor to Neighbor. The page is intended for people to post if they need help and to share uplifting comments and other general information.

Salvation Army funds available

The Salvation Army Dent County Service Unit reminds anyone needing assistance with utility bills, because of job reduction or cuts, to call 729-8163.

To anyone wanting to help, financial contributions are always welcome, not just during the Christmas season. Donations stay local to help your neighbors.

Donations can be sent to P.O Box 190, Salem or dropped off at the Salem Community Center @ the Armory.

Nationwide learning applications and websites have opened up free, online activities and services to aid in teaching children while school is not in session.

Several teachers have shared notes and videos via social media of art and music lessons that students can complete at home.

This is, in no way, a comprehensive list of all of the acts of kindness and caring that people have shown in recent days.

Thank you to those who have shopped for those at home, donated to worthy causes, supported local businesses, and brightened days for someone who needed it. We are in this together and must continue to show compassion.