The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spark inspiring acts of kindness. Not just from big institutions with deep pockets, but everyday people who simply decided they want to make a difference. They didn’t tell anyone they were doing it or ask for attention. They just showed up.

Here are four recent examples – all revolving around food – that have filled stomachs and lifted spirits for many Novant Health teammates who are working extra hours in stressful conditions.

Donating, with a personal touch

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Lexia Gianopoulos

Lexia Gianopoulos’ family knows the importance and dedication of housekeeping teams who work to keep hospitals clean. Their cousin, Robin Cramer, was in charge of environmental services at an Ohio hospital. Sadly, she passed away recently.

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Lexie placed a note in every basket.

With their cousin’s memory in mind, Lexia, 16, made snack packs and donated them to the environmental services team at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Lexia included a personal note in each pack. Her dad, Jimmy Gianopoulos, delivered the goodies, enough to feed the team’s first shift.

Snacks team

When the Gianopoulos family saw photos of how happy the team was, Lexia made more snack packs to distribute to the second- and third-shift teammates.

“Doctors and nurses were getting a lot of attention, and they certainly deserve it,” said Lexia, who lives in Mooresville and is a 10th-grader at Community School of Davidson. “I just thought about who I could serve that hadn’t been recognized. I know they (environmental services) work hard every day, as well as doctors and nurses. I was so grateful for the opportunity to do that.”

He formed his own donation group 

Clay Jackob of Charlotte was talking to a friend in Ohio, who mentioned he’d organized food drop-offs for health care workers.

“Sounds like a great idea, how can I donate?” Jackob asked. “Do it in your area,” his friend replied.

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Clay Jackob (left) formed Essential Meals for Essential Workers

So, Jackob reached out to his Charlotte friends and the idea took off. They formed a group called “Essential Meals for Essential Workers,” to collect donations that feed essential employees and help restaurants at the same time. Every dollar donated goes toward the food deliveries. Jackob and friends have donated to fire stations, child care centers and health care locations.

“I work in medical sales, so it was a no-brainer as to who I wanted to help,” he said. “Immediately, I thought of environmental service workers, who do so much to keep people safe and secure.”

Jackob, on his initial trip to Presbyterian Medical Center, dropped off lunch from Three Amigos Mexican restaurant. He only had one regret.

“If it weren’t for the virus, I’d go hang out and eat with them,” he said. (To donate, email [email protected].)

No softball, but lots of heart

The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping David Jarrett and his softball buddies off the playing field. So they’re channeling that energy into feeding health care workers.

Jarrett directs the BOOM league in Charlotte, which is open to players age 60 and older. BOOM stands for Bunch of Old Men, a moniker that bothers no one involved in the Thursday games. It’s an offshoot of Carolina Senior Sports, which organizes a league of about 260 players, all 50 or older.

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“I know my BOOMers, we’re like a family,” Jarrett said. “We have about 96 guys. I sent everyone an email asking for donations and figured if enough responded, we could afford to do it right.”

The generous softballers raised enough money to sponsor seven meal donations to various hospitals, including Presbyterian Medical Center. Chick-fil-A, Buona Vita and Salsarita’s have been key restaurant partners, Jarrett said. And like any hitter who smacks a hit or two, Jarrett and friends want to keep the streak going.

“It’s cool to help health care people and the restaurants,” he said. “It’s a pleasure for us to do it.”

Feeding people is their specialty

After reading a newspaper story about cleaning teams in local hospitals, Tom Fedell, chairman of the Dilworth Soup Kitchen in Charlotte, volunteered his organization to help feed them.

“We were amazed at the job your cleaning staff is doing during the pandemic,” Fedell said in an email. “We are partnering with several restaurants in Charlotte who are struggling and would like to provide lunch to your entire cleaning staff.”

One hundred lunches (barbecued chicken, two sides and a roll) were delivered to Presbyterian Medical Center for the environmental services team. The generous gift was lunch for the hospital’s housekeepers, trash technicians and floor technicians working first shift. There also were enough meals to refrigerate for teammates who worked second shift later that day.

Dilworth Soup Kitchen is a nonprofit organization that provides hot, nutritious lunches every Monday to about 150 neighbors and guests from throughout Charlotte.

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