The Helpers | This week's stories of local people stepping up in a pandemic

People across Waterloo region are stepping up to help their neighbours, front-line workers and more. 

Here's a selection of stories of people lending a hand in Waterloo region this week

A Kitchener neighbourhood put out a sign thanking health care professionals for their work amid COVID-19. (Andrew Coppolino/ Twitter)

People across Waterloo region are stepping up to help their neighbours, front-line workers and more. 

This week on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition, we featured a number of stories about them, including a tech company that is creating face shields for health workers, a moonshine distillery that has started making hand sanitizer and a music festival organizer who is spearheading fundraising efforts for musicians.

Here's a selection of stories about helpers in our community from the show this week.

Printing face-shields 

Kitchener tech company InkSmith recently pivoted from providing education technology such as 3D Printers, robotics and even tech support to making specialized face shields for health care workers.

President Jeremy Hedges said they decided to change gears after hearing from a local doctor about the urgent need for face shields and masks for front line workers.

"We had an outpouring of people asking us what we could do to help," Hedges said.

Meanwhile, the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy has donated gloves, masks and sanitizers to local hospitals.

Grocery deliveries

Others have taken to delivering groceries and supports.

Abhi Kantamneni in Guelph built the website that compiles a list of volunteers who have signed up to deliver groceries to neighbours and make phone calls to those in need.

The website also has a list of food banks and other charities seeking donations.

In Waterloo region, Suzie Taka created the group CareMongering-KW, a Facebook group where members can offer up grocery runs and pantry supply products to those who can't leave their homes.  

Making hand sanitizer

An Elmira distillery switched gears from making alcohol products such as gin, to making hand sanitizer for front-line workers, including grocery store clerks and others.

"With all the dilemmas surrounding the supply of hand sanitizer to the grocery stores and places for the front line workers to get it, we just decided to kind of pick up the ball, as well as many other Ontario and Canadian distilleries, and just start supplying," said Ben Murphy, the owner and operator of Murphy's Law Distillery.

Murphy said the company has started a larger-scale production with orders for more than 1,000 bottles. The company has even received requests from as far away as Europe.

Other distilleries on Ontario are following suit. Dixon's Distilled Spirits in Guelph have also started making hand sanitizers for front-line workers. 

Supporting local artists

Isabel Cisterna is the artistic director and founder the nonprofit world music presenter Neruda Arts in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Cisterna is spearheading an online fundraising campaign for Waterloo region artists affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns called, "K-W Artists Plan B."

"I was feeling pretty sad about it, and I thought ... there is a way that we can come together and help mitigate at least some of the heartache right now and give back," she said.

Cisterna hopes the fund will help local artists get by. The fundraiser hopes to raise $8,000 for local artists.

Have a good example of someone in the community lending a hand and going the extra mile? Email us at