Anchored in Alabama: Stories of Hope
Anchored in Alabama serves as a news aggregate of Alabama’s private enterprise and faith communities offering solutions during COVID-19 and is an effort to show that the government is not the only answer to today’s problems.
As the coronavirus continues to impact the world, we are bombarded by stories of destruction and grief. Increasing infection numbers, a volatile stock market, and the emerging side effects of social distancing and mass quarantine dominate the news cycle.
There is more, however, to the story.
Every week, the Alabama Policy Institute learns of ways our private enterprises and faith communities are meeting the challenges of COVID-19 head-on. With innovation and deep care for their communities and neighbors, they display what we have always known about America and the state of Alabama. That we are a resilient people, full of ingenuity and compassion, able to adapt to massive changes in the way our society operates and ensure that help is available to those who need it.
It is these stories, stories of hope and of grace, that we will highlight in our weekly Anchored in Alabama publication.
Overall, Anchored in Alabama will serve as an aggregate of good news from local reporters and the radio and television stations, newspapers, and other news organizations for which they work. API will also, as able, offer original stories that demonstrate the tenacity, grit, and care of our people in this time of crisis.
The first ten stories we have chosen to highlight are below, listed with a short summary from API and a link to the full story as originally published. We hope you find this publication uplifting.
Anchored in Alabama, Week One
1. Gas Stations Offer Full Service to Customers
One gas station chain in Mobile has returned to the gas station experience of yesteryear and is now offering optional full gas service. According to their Facebook page, Bebo’s gas stations, on top of sanitizing their pumps regularly, will have gloved attendants ready to pump your gas for you as needed. Yet another example of a creative, free market approach to the crisis and of care for those putting themselves at most risk during this time, Bebo’s has also offered free car washes to healthcare workers and first responders.
2. Gadsden Churches Combine Forces to Offer Food Distribution to Public
Church of the Highlands’ Gadsden campus and the Church at Willis Creek are opening a drive through food distribution center in Gadsden that will be open every Wednesday, from 9 am to noon. Kyle Cantrell, pastor of Highland’s Gadsden Campus, says people in need of food won’t even have to get out of their car. This is just one example of the faith-based community voluntarily offering solutions for the people in their neighborhoods and cities.
Churches team up for food distribution
3. Birmingham Police Officer Buys Food For Homeless
With most of Birmingham’s normal foot and vehicle traffic at record low levels, the needs of the city’s homeless population have only grown. BPD Officer Jeannette Prince, after seeing a group of homeless people needing food, bought and handed out food herself. A passerby caught the act of personal kindness and alerted the city.
Alabama officer buys food for homeless during COVID-19 pandemic
4. Alabama Grocery Stores Increase Salaries of Employees
As with most grocery store workers, employees at Piggly Wiggly have found themselves deemed “essential workers” by the state. As a result, employees at Piggly Wiggly grocery stores in both Warrior and Clay, Alabama are seeing a temporary increase in their hourly pay of $2 an hour until the end of the coronavirus crisis. The pay increase was not mandated by any state or local authority but an act of goodwill and, undoubtedly, of the free market and the need to keep essential employees on the job.
Alabama Piggly Wiggly gives staff bonus amid COVID-19; ‘They’re worth every penny’
5. Alabama Chemical Company and Multiple Distilleries Shift Towards Production of Hand Sanitizer
A Pelham chemical company–Research Solutions, Opelika’s John Emerald Distilling Company, and Birmingham’s Dread River Distilling Company, are shifting their manufacturing abilities away from their normal products and towards hand sanitizer, much of which is going to be free or donated. “Yeah, we’ve got to clear some vodka out of our mixing tank,” Jimmy Sharp, the head distiller at John Emerald Distilling company said, “But once that’s done we’re going to start mixing up hand sanitizer.” These three companies are just a few of many businesses in Alabama demonstrating, with their ability to respond quickly to the crisis, the value and creativity of private enterprise during this pandemic.
Alabama distillery brewing up free hand sanitizer amid coronavirus crisis
Pelham company making hand sanitizers
Opelika distillery to begin brewing hand sanitizer
6. Huntsville Nature Preserve Offers Jobs to Those Out of Work
A Huntsville nonprofit, the Land Trust of North Alabama, is opening temporary jobs to those who have been laid off from the service industry as a result of the coronavirus. Offering $10 an hour for up to 40 hours a week of work, temporary employees of the Land Trust will be tasked with clearing sections of trail of a species of Honeysuckle that has proven especially invasive. A nonprofit, the Land Trust is an example of a private organization offering help to those who need it most.
North Alabama Land Trust hiring laid off downtown workers
7. Alabama Power Will Not Cut Service To Customers During the Pandemic
With many out of work and struggling to pay their normal monthly bills, Alabama Power and Spire will not be cutting off service to those who do not pay their utility bills. Both Spire and Southern Company, Alabama Power’s parent company, are publicly traded companies that, although they are responsible to their shareholders, are willing to essentially give power away. This is clear evidence that the large private sector companies are actively playing a role in easing the burden on residents of our state and country.
Alabama Power, other state utilities, promise not to disconnect service for those impacted by COVID-19
8. Alabama Gym Offering Free Fitness Challenge
Around Birmingham, Iron Tribe Fitness is a household name. The gym, with five locations, all which are closed because of the pandemic, has opened a free 21-day virtual fitness challenge to both members and non-members of its gym. The workouts are available online, and are doable for those of any fitness level. They do not require gym equipment. This is yet another example of the creativity of the private sector to meet the downstream needs of a population largely quarantined to their homes.
Birmingham-based Iron Tribe Fitness launches free ’21-Day Virtual Challenge’
9. Free Virtual Field Trips Offered by Alabama’s Farmers
The Alabama Farmers Federation, in an effort to bring some variety in learning to students stuck at home during the coronavirus, will host virtual field trips on their Facebook page every Friday until May 22nd for students to ask questions and learn about different types of crops and livestock directly from Alabama’s farmers. Although they are geared towards 3rd-5th Graders, ALFA’s communications’ director remarked that the videos will be informative for all ages. This is a shining reflection of our state industries’ ability to offer continued real life experience to our children as they adjust to a new learning environment.
Alabama farmers to host virtual field trips every Friday through May 22
10. Hyundai Donates Coronavirus Tests To Montgomery Area Counties
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, which operates a large factory in Montgomery, has donated 10,000 coronavirus test kits for use in Montgomery and the surrounding counties. A private car company, Hyundai’s donation reveals how private businesses, even ones that may not manufacture goods that can directly address the coronavirus, are consistently helping in unexpected ways during the crisis.
Hyundai Supplying 10,000 COVID-19 RT-PCR Tests in Montgomery
Anchored in Alabama is a new, weekly publication and selected news aggregate of the Alabama Policy Institute that is updated every Wednesday at noon until the COVID-19 crisis is over. If you know of a story that could be highlighted in this publication and would like to submit it for review, please email [email protected].