How People Are Using Social Media to Help Their Neighbors

The fight against coronavirus calls for social distancing, but social media helps us meet each other’s needs.

Mixed in with rants about toilet paper hoarding and egregiously long lines in grocery stores on Facebook, Stephanie Montellano is one among a growing number of people turning to the social media platform to help neighbors in need.

“When schools closed, the first thing I thought about was the kids whose parents still had to work and probably couldn’t pick up free curbside meals for them, so I started posting on Facebook pages to see how I could help,” says Montellano, a busy mom of six in MeadowPark, a Northeast side suburb of San Antonio.

Posting on the mobile app, Nextdoor, and a Facebook neighboring community page, Montellano says someone in San Antonio responded asking if someone could deliver toilet paper to her elderly aunt living in Oklahoma.

In spite of the request being out-of-state, Montellano still did her best to help the woman’s aunt.

“I went on a few local Facebook community pages in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and found someone to take her aunt some toilet paper,” said Montellano. “I was really happy and relieved that I could be of help.”

In the last few days, she and 10-year-old son Kadrian, who have delivered medications to elderly residents along with peanut butter and jelly, and turkey sandwiches, have spent more time together, and she loves seeing his servant heart.

But she’s not entirely joyful, and her concerns about the coronavirus outbreak continue to escalate. When talking to Kadrian about Covid-19, she says it’s all about being realistic but trying her best to stay positive.

“We’re taking it in stride, and I’m trying to remain positive, but of course, it’s definitely scary, the unknown.”

Montellano isn’t the only one using social media to assist neighbors in need.

Kristine Trcka, a mom living in Cibolo, recently posted on a local community Facebook page offering to pick up groceries for seniors and parents at home with small kids. And, responding to her post in the comment thread is another mom who shared a list of items that were currently in-stock at Wal-Mart.

Some Facebook posts are even morphing into private Facebook groups, where parents are posting everything from fun learning challenges like Robot writing prompts and 30-Day Lego challenges to Facebook Live math tutorials.

Megan Fitzsimmons, one of the parents who has already joined a few online Facebook groups, says plugging into social media has helped 7-year-old son Colin with social distancing. They’ve found science lessons, art lessons, and weather lessons.

When they aren’t online, Fitzsimmons and her family are constantly finding other ways to cope with anxiety. She says it’s been hard, but there’s always a silver lining somewhere.

“We’re getting creative, spending more time together outdoors, and just trying to have some grace with the whole situation and be patient.”

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