Avon Lake resident Lori Kolofer Burk has a giving soul. She’s spent her career helping teachers and working with children. But for the last few weeks, it’s her kindness to those needing a boost in Avon Lake … and surrounding communities … that has made a difference. Burk has been the city’s “heart fairy,” creating plastic hearts from beads and a heart-shaped muffin tin.

The hearts, secretly scattered at nursing homes, developments, houses, and other places where people in-need reside, have brought smiles (and this is not an exaggeration) to thousands in the Westshore.

There are other examples everywhere you look. Facebook posts urging support of locally owned businesses. People making sure they get takeout, even if they usually make their own food, just to help restaurants survive.

Also in Avon Lake, members of the Community Improvement Corp., composed of five resident volunteers, aided by a financial contribution from Avon Lake Waterfront Corp., providing 25 restaurants and bars some $98,000 in grants ranging from $3,000 to $4,000 each.

And the masks. Wow. Students, senior citizens and everyone in between are making masks and either donating them or asking just for the cost of materials.

Neighbors volunteering to grocery shop for those with medical vulnerability or because they are seniors who are reluctant to go shopping.

Westlake Senior and Community Services Center offering city residents a chance to curl up with a good book with a weekly pickup service called Bookworm Wednesdays at the Community Services Center. Residents of all ages are invited to look through a selection of donated novels and jigsaw puzzles.

Speaking of jigsaw puzzles … neighbors and friends exchanging jigsaw puzzles so that days aren’t quite so long.

In Lakewood, with an order to close due to unpaid taxes, the Side Quest bar was in danger of closing, even though it received a $3,000 grant from the city. That was until a last-ditch effort $25,000 fundraising campaign. More than 500 donations came flowing in from the community, many of them between $10 and $50. The donations added up to enough to cover the bar’s costs.

Chalk rainbows. Signs in yards offering thanks to “vital” workers. Car “parades” for children having potentially lonely birthdays. Teddy bears in windows for little ones on walks or driving by with their parents. And yes, plastic hearts in trees and on walking paths to show love for strangers.

Teachers reaching out to students … long distance, with signs and virtually … showing their dedication to their profession and love of their students.

These are scary times. We are all being tested. Some of us are failing. We fight nastily over the internet (and in person sometimes) over wearing/not wearing masks. Some think it’s OK for armed, masked (irony alert) people storming state capitols with guns slung across their shoulders or backs, shouting that their rights are being violated because they are being asked to be mindful of other people’s health. One man even wiped his nose on the sleeve of a retail worker in protest of being told he was required to wear a mask.

But those people, we think, are the minority. We can’t control them. We can control our reactions to them … and to the stresses of the pandemic.

In our Westshore communities, residents get an A+. They are showing empathy, compassion, ingenuity and, yes, love.

We are showing that we are better than the angry people. We are a loving, wonderful community. For that, we should be very, very proud.

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