Here's how Allrecipes home cooks have been cooking up a little love in their communities during the global pandemic.
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deliverying groceries to neighbors in need
Credit: Rebekah Hills

In the midst of a global pandemic and extraordinary pressure for societal change, there are still so many signs of hope in the people and promise of America. We see them every day across our community at Allrecipes.com. These are not just great cooks, but truly good and caring people. Here are a few of the inspiring stories they shared that reveal the contagious kindness and generous heart of the world's largest community of home cooks.

Delivering Help and Hope

Rebekah Hills and Lindsey Rose with a trunk full of groceries to share.
Rebekah Hills and Lindsey Rose with a trunk full of groceries to share.

My aunt has neighbors who have been hit hard by the pandemic. They have a brand-new baby (born just as things began to shut down) and three other children. The husband's entire handyman business has completely gone away for now. When my aunt mentioned she was providing groceries for the family as best as she could and for as long as she could, I knew helping her was one small way we could become involved and actively do something. Sometimes you just need something positive to focus on, something actionable. For my family, it was helping another family through a tough time.

I scour resources around my town of Lilburn, Georgia, to find protein at a reasonable price, and I found eggs from an incredible small farmer, Raeford Farms. My 6-year-old daughter, Lindsey Rose, and I divide things into meal-size portions, then vacu-seal and freeze them. We've also been buying fresh produce and pantry staples, offsetting my aunt's purchases to help her neighbors get through each week. It's been a labor of love, and I've gotten my daughter involved in picking, packing, and delivering. And we've had some great conversations about how to support and love on those around us. —Rebekah Hills

Hope and Generosity

sarah and angela
Sarah and Angela

For me, Sarah represents all the hope and generosity her faith and our country call for. "My Sarah," as I call my dear friend and 80-year-old mentor, is a woman who inspires me daily. If you met her and someone told you her age, you'd laugh. Sarah Murray Eremic has all the sass and class I wish I had, and at nearly half her age, I can't keep up. She lives in a senior-adult community in Barnegat, New Jersey, and has made her tiny little apartment a haven for anyone blessed to enter.

She has hosted many movie nights and often cooked dinner for her friends. In fact, food has been a powerful part of her service to others throughout her life, from living in the deep South to serving as a missionary in Germany for many years, and now on the Jersey Shore. 

When the pandemic hit, it was hard for her to "stay in." Instead of letting frustration get to her, Sarah got to work. When I offered to bring her groceries, she took me up on the offer — so that she could bake for others. It wasn't uncommon for her to request gluten-free baking goods for others with sensitivities. She always needed butter and sugar. And it was a delight to hunt for fresh berries so that a friend could have a pop of color in her breakfast bowl. I hope to bless others through food with half the energy and creativity she shows! —Angela Sackett aka Superhotmama

Serving Smiles

Hospital coworkers (from left) Angela Seifert, Devon Hughes, Jessica Shiflett, and Brittany Pryor
Hospital coworkers (from left) Angela Seifert, Devon Hughes, Jessica Shiflett, and Brittany Pryor

I work in the food-service department at Sentara Regional hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia. I am part of a wonderful group of people who share their gift for preparing and serving good, healthy food. It's great to see the smile on a patient's face when you serve them something that they really like. —Angela Seifert

Making Time to Be Nice

Super bakers Steven and Abby Roy
Super bakers Steven and Abby Roy

My kids have always been creative types — a trait that I am even more grateful for since we've been stuck at home over the past few months. They have created games, posters, forts, books, and more. In mid-June, my 9-year-old son approached me with a piece of paper outlining "Nice Week," with different activities for us to do together each day. Curiously, the final day was blank. He had simply put a big, dark circle around it.

We ended up deciding the best way to cap off Nice Week was to do something nice for others. I've always relished time in the kitchen with my children, watching them learn and create, so we settled on creating cookie packages for school friends they hadn't seen in months. My daughter searched Allrecipes.com for recipes, while my son helped measure and mix. Soon we had dozens and dozens of cookies, and the house was full of sweet smells and smiles.

We rounded out the packages with bags of homemade flavored caramel corn and notes from the kids to their friends.

cookie packages ready to be dropped off as gifts for friends
Cookie packages ready to be dropped off.

As we delivered some sunshine to friends they hadn't seen in months, the kids jumped from the car at each stop, dropped a basket at the front door, and had the most fun, giggle-inducing game of ding-dong-ditch as they ran back to the car. Some stops allowed for a few masked words to be exchanged, while others led to happy, grateful notes returned to us.

Pandemic or not, Nice Week has earned a permanent spot on our calendar. We're already looking forward to baking a few hundred more cookies next summer for our friends in Taylor, Texas. — Nora Roy aka SunnyDaysNora

In It Together

Alaina and Donna together at a social gathering
Alaina and Donna

Food has always brought people together. And now it helps us stay together, even when we have to stay apart.

In late February, my youngest daughter, Alaina, contracted COVID-19, and my husband and I followed soon after. It was the first time I thought I might not survive an illness. But after a month of feeling like we had concrete in our lungs, we pushed ourselves and got our energy back.

Once I recovered, I started making masks out of every available piece of fabric I had. I wanted to give back to my community of Brewster, New York, because I knew how bad this illness could get. With 300 masks made and donated, I turned to making bread again. When my eldest daughter, Katie, dropped off groceries for us, I'd leave her a basket of my homemade vanilla extract and loaves of bread for her to help feed others.

Trading ingredients when stores weren't carrying them became a community project, too. Seeing people come together during a time when our nation has been so divided was even more amazing. What I loved the most was seeing that we could all get back to caring about our neighbors, despite all the hardships. Not only did we get back to the basics of cooking, we got back to the basics of being compassionate people. —Donna Michaels

How You Can Help

The coronavirus is the perfect storm for Americans struggling to make ends meet. Millions are seeking help from a charitable food system that was never intended to handle a nationwide crisis. You can help by donating or volunteering at one of these food charities.

No Kid Hungry: One in four kids may face hunger this year, particularly with disrupted schools struggling to meet the intense need for school-day breakfasts and lunches. No Kid Hungry is a nationwide child-focused campaign of the hunger-fighting organization Share Our Strength. It not only connects at-risk children with the food they need, but it also teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. Donate at armagazine.com/nokidhungry.

Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks and 60,000 food partners who bring food where it's needed most. Go to armagazine.com/feedingamerica to donate to its COVID-19 Response Fund, or to volunteer at a Feeding America-affiliated food bank, food pantry, or meal program.

World Central: Kitchen distributes individually packaged, nutritious meals to those who need support—for families to pick up and take away, home delivery for seniors, and for healthcare workers on the front lines. Find details at armagazine.com/worldcentralkitchen.

Meals on Wheels: Seniors are among those at greatest risk in this pandemic. Meals on Wheels America works to keep them safe and nourished in communities across the country. New meal requests have doubled in some areas since March 1. Donations also enable tech-based efforts to check in on isolated elderly recipients. Get details at armagazine.com/mealsonwheels.

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2020 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.