SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been helping each other out and showing kindness wherever they can.
The pandemic has taken its toll on many people and businesses the last few months. But during this time of distress, hope still sheds its light and goodness still shows its face.
When the pandemic was just beginning to force restaurants to close their doors, Sanaa Abourezk showed us how hard it was not being able to interact with her customers as much.
“For me, it was like my family. I’m sorry,” Abourezk said.
After that story aired, Abourezk received a letter from a young boy named Elijah in Pierre. He had never been to her restaurant, Sanaa’s 8th Street Gourmet in Sioux Falls, but he wanted to help out.
“I opened the letter and I just start sobbing in my office. Because how kind. I mean, as a young kid. It’s hard time for everyone and sometimes you have tendency to hold back because you’re so afraid. Especially now, you really don’t know what’s happening. And this kid gave me his money. Cash. It was in the envelope, in the card. I love him dearly. Dearly,” Abourezk said.
For businesses and workers, recent months have not been easy. That’s why whenever a moment of goodness came around, Abourezk held on to it.
“That’s an extended family. I tell you, I have them posted in my office. Every day, if I have a hard time, I just look at them. I’m okay,” Abourezk said.
Intoxibakes in Sioux Falls has also felt love from the community.
“We’ve gotten lots of messages from customers and from friends just telling us to hang in there and hoping that we’ll reopen. Before we closed, we had someone come in and buy out our case, which was just wonderful. We’ve had lots of support while we’re closed,” Holly Jorgenson, an owner of Intoxibakes said.
Jorgenson says having that support gives them a sense of community.
“It doesn’t seem like much, you know, to have a cupcake shop or whatever, but for us, it just means that we feel like we’re part of the community and that people support us and that we like to support the community as well. It’s nice to kind of feel like we belong,” Jorgenson said.
Outside of South Dakota, essential workers are finding appreciation in rest stops and on interstate signs. I spoke to truck driver Russell Wendt, a driver for K and J Trucking, over the phone while he was in Utah to hear about the support he’s felt while out on the road.
“When I was in Guyman, Oklahoma, at the truck stop, the local church had put together a goodie bag for drivers and had a bible verse in it and everything and a prayer for us drivers,” truck driver Russell Wendt said.
Wendt says even something as simple as a child asking him to honk his horn means the world to him.
“That just tears me up. What’s better than that is when you have grandmas, you know, 67-year-old ladies doing it too. It just makes a big smile on my face, if you could see my smile right now, that’s awesome,” Wendt said.
Wendt says those moments of kindness are a reminder of the good in each and every one of us.
“We don’t expect anything, and I think that’s why it hits you so hard, is because the generosity of people in times of need or when things go wrong. It just goes to show how many people will step up and help the next person out,” Wendt said.
Even in times of struggle … we can all show a little love.
“Time is tough. I know it’s very tough. It’s very scary, but there are kind people all over, that’s what makes life. And we’ll pull through it, so be kind. Just be kind. I know sometimes I have short fuse, but when you’re kind to a person, it makes their day. It makes their whole week,” Abourezk said.
Abourezk extended the kindness back to Elijah by sending him her cookbook, a shirt and inviting him to come bake with her once things calm down a bit.