Local citizens, businesses going above and beyond during COVID-19 pandemic

by Cristin Parker cristin@thecherokeean.com

Since state officials mandated the shutdown to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), numerous businesses, organizations and individuals are doing what they can to help feed the hungry; help bolster peoples’ mental health – especially those most vulnerable to loneliness; and support first responders and medical personnel.

Staff of Cherokee County’s senior living facilities continue to step up to make sure their residents’ spirits stay high as visitors have to stay away.

“The staff in the nursing homes and assisted livings aren’t fighting the same battle that the nurses and the doctors who are bravely fighting against COVID-19 are,” officials at the Angelina House in Jacksonville posted. “Our battle looks a lot different.

“We’re fighting to protect our residents from the outside world. We’re fighting against depression and loneliness. We are fighting boredom and confusion caused by dementia. We are fighting frustration of family members not being able to visit and families who feel disconnected and fear for their loved one.

“So until this crisis is over, we will dress up in silly costumes and dance down halls, we will give comforting words and do our best to create fun activities that can be done safely. We will hold the iPhones so loved ones can see their elderly parent who is unable to communicate and reassure them everything is okay.

“We will put on smiles even when our heads are pounding and we are fighting worry ourselves. We will do what we can to make sure the outside world stays “outside” and our resident stay safe.

“Thank you to all of our medical staff and caregivers. Thank you to everyone who daily puts other’s health and needs before their own. Thank you to ALL who have been and continue taking care of and protecting our loved ones, doing all you can to restore their health and wellbeing.
You are heroes.”

Angelina House also thanked Cassie Cruz Foster and family for the sweet cards for residents; Sondra and Andy Dowden for the recent window time Sing-along fun; Mrs. Vickie Etheridge, family of residents Ms. Georgia and Mr. and Mrs. Fuller providing residents and staff with lunch from Domino’s pizza; and Charlotte’s Web Daycare students for coloring the beautiful Easter pictures for residents.

Arbors Healthcare and Rehab in Rusk has been organizing window visits with their residents’ families.

“The window visit sure do make the residents happy,” the facility posted. “We all love to hear from friends and families.”

Anyone interested in setting up a window visit, call (903) 683-1042.

“As we are not allowing visits at this time to protect our residents, why not write a letter to one of our residents,” Arbors officials suggested via social media. “Our residents love to receive mail – send correspondence to New Friend/Someone Special, 1884 FM 343, Rusk, TX 75785.”

The facility also thanked staff members Elizabeth and Nayeli for their service as hairdressers; and volunteer Susan Washburn for her help with making coffee filter flowers for arts and crafts.

Jacksonville’s Twin Oaks Health & Rehabilitation posted a ‘huge thank you’ to Dr. Roberson of UT in Jacksonville and the Lewis family for providing a pizza lunch to staff.

Legacy at Jacksonville also shared many thanks to Justin Jobe from Angels Care Home Health for entertaining its residents with window tic-tac-toe and hangman games; to Mr. Darby and Darby Greenhouses for providing the facility Easter lilies; and to Heart to Heart Hospice and Cullen Stokes for the snacks for the staff.

“A huge thank you for these community acts of kindness,” the business posted. “Thank you all. It takes a village! We appreciate you!

Trinity Assisted Living of Jacksonville supported a local restaurant whilst providing its residents a treat.

“Since our residents can’t go out to eat at their favorite restaurant, we brought the restaurant -- Catfish King -- to them,” the facility posted.

Wells LTC Nursing & Rehabilitation has added an exclusive Family Mail feature to its website, wellsltc.com to enhance communication to residents from loved ones.

“This is a great way for families and friends to send a little e-message to their loved one letting them know they are thinking about them,” Administrator Marcus Barnes posted. “Again, we would like to thank everyone for their support, patience, and prayers during this unprecedented challenge. We will get through this together!”

Some businesses are showing their communities’ some love through service. James Sanchez, proprietor of the Eagles Den restaurant in Rusk provided and delivered more than 400 sack lunches to residents in Rusk and Alto on April 21 and has been providing lunches for Rusk students since ???.

“I would like to thank Brookshires Brothers for their donation and a big thank you to my kids (Michael, Anna, Bri, Jackie and Andy) for helping,” he posted on the eatery’s Facebook page. “I pray that this virus will be over soon so we can get back to normal. Thank y’all and God bless.”

The restaurant has also been offering family breakfast packages as well as boiled crawfish, shrimp and all the fixings, fish plates and the rest of the menu to-go every Saturday.

Sanchez has also supported local businesses throughout the two months by providing locally-bought items to his fellow local businesses, including providing a barbecue lunch from All Star BBQ to Texas National Bank staff; donuts from Rusk Donut Shop to employees at Austin Bank, Chapman Pharmacy, Gray’s Automotive, Citizens 1st Bank, the Daily Grind; and feeding his own family at Abuela’s Mexican restaurant.

Numerous local businesses are also currently offering deals to first responders and medical personnel as a way to show support for their dedication to being ‘essential’ workers.

They include:

• McDonald’s in Rusk and Jacksonville is offering first responders and healthcare workers free meals through May 5.

• Dollar General is offering a 10 percent discount on purchases made by all medical personnel, first responders and activated members of the National Guard. Present your employment badge or ID to receive the discount.

• Verizon has expanded its lower unlimited pricing rates to include nurses and teachers. Both join active-duty military, veterans and people who work as first responders who already enjoying this pricing.

• La Frontera Mexican restaurant in Jacksonville is offering 30 percent off purchases for all hospital staff, fire, police and military personnel.

• Whataburger is partnering with the Texas Restaurant Association to support first responders and healthcare workers. Visit Whataburger’s Facebook page to apply for free meals.

• The Cherokeean Herald has been providing all its COVID-19 coverage free on its website and Facebook page.

• iSignShop printed and distributed free signs boasting the positive message, ‘Texas Strong #PrayTogether.’

• Stockstill in Jacksonville is offering 10 percent off all projects for any medical staff and first responders for one calendar year. Projects include painting, deck staining, pressure washing, wood repair/replacement – both commercial and residential.,

• The Jacksonville Progress lent Jacksonville Middle School several newspaper racks to help the campus make its curriculum packets easier to access.

• The Raw Iron Gym in Rusk has been posting daily workout regimens on its Facebook page to help keep people active.

• The Ritual in Jacksonville is offering complimentary yoga videos daily on its website.

Other businesses that have provided some kind of support service during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

• Choice Homecare in Tyler recently donated pizza to the staff of CHRISTUS Mother Frances-Jacksonville and a snack basket to the Jacksonville Police Department.

• ServePro cleaning service out of Tyler recently sanitized Jacksonville Police Department’s fleet vehicles.

• Subway has teamed with Feeding America to give out 15 million free meals and is donating one meal to Feeding America for every Footlong sub customers purchase.

• Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Verizon has committed $45 million in contributions and donations to non-profits directed at serving students, health care workers, first responders and small businesses.

• McDonald’s has also donated nearly 3 million pounds of food, including 1.2 million pounds of beef, to organizations around the country.

• Jersey Mike’s has teamed up with Feeding America to donate 20 percent of sales, at least $1 million, to help the Feeding America nationwide network of 200 food banks.