Pandemic sparks epidemic of people helping people in Northwest Indiana

Pandemic sparks epidemic of people helping people in Northwest Indiana
By: Julia Demma Last Updated: March 16, 2020

Porter Regional Hospital ER staff gave a shout out on social media to local BBQ joint Jordy & Jax for supplying them with food during one of the busiest times in healthcare in Region history. This is just one of many examples Region-wide of people taking care of people.

It may feel germy and uncertain in the Region right now, but something else is going viral: people helping people.

As the news of the Covid-19 outbreak has been all-consuming, a scroll through any social media channel reveals a better part of the human condition: empathy, caring, love, and the good old-fashioned concept of neighbors helping neighbors.

In Northwest Indiana, we’ve seen countless examples of local government officials, not-for-profits, grocery stores, businesses, and neighbors who have been lending each other a helping hand (or elbow, for that matter). And since this is what GreatNews.Life, is all about, we want to talk about it.

“Every day we highlight the great things happening around our community, and one of the best stories to read at any time is one of a community member or multiple local organizations stepping up during a time of need,” said Chris Mahlmann, founder and CEO of GreatNews.Life. “We applaud those doing so and wish everyone safety and health during this time.”

With school systems on e-learning, this has made both childcare and access to meals difficult for some families. We’ve seen an outpouring of help from community members on social media.

“Friends, if any of you need or know someone in a dire situation, which could use some groceries from our pantry, I can help out. We have plenty of dry/canned beans/legumes, rice, veggies, fruits, pasta, tomato sauce, tuna, pork chops, peanut butter, assorted baked goods, and breakfast sausage. I am more than happy to share, as we're all going through a lot and need to be a team to get through this.” –Erik Tannehill, La Porte

A fellow Facebook friend, Nicole Kintzele Messacar, replied: “And since you should be extra careful, please let me know if things need to be delivered. I can help.”

There have been more deliveries and helping hands offered throughout the Region.

“With everything going on, now is the time we all come together as a community! If you need help getting to the school to get the meals your kids need please let me know - PM me. I can go pick up the meals and drop them off for you! Please PM me!” --Christine Struble-Bockman, Crown Point

“I’m not really anybody. But I am someone who is more than willing to run to Strack’s or Meijer for any of our elderly or others at higher risk during this outbreak. PM me and I’ll do your shopping, so you stay safe.” – Bob Hipps, Hobart

GreatNews.Life recommends that community members be wise about accepting help from strangers, but applauds neighbors helping neighbors across the board.

We also saw our GreatNews.Life partners shouting out appreciation for each other. Bob Franko, CEO at VNA of NWI, reached out to find local in-home sitters for his staff, many of whom are single partners and can’t afford to miss work. Hospitals across the region have been sharing love for each other and local businesses via supportive messages, praise and thanks.

“Big shout out to our local restaurant Jordy N Jax BBQ for bringing my Porter Regional ER staff food today recognizing the rough time our emergency departments are going through right now! Sooooooo kind and thoughtful of Jordy N Jax—Thank you! We got our community’s back—no worries,” wrote the emergency room director at Porter Regional Hospital.

Local municipalities, townships and other organizations also have stepped up during this uncertain time.

The City of Crown Point Special Events Department will offer corned beef and cabbage dinners to go on Tuesday, March 17 at the Crown Point Fire Department in a drive-thru setting.

Anyone interested can pick up to go corned beef and cabbage dinners from 12-6 o.m. or until items are sold out.  Participants can enter at the Clark Street entrance and proceed to the back of the Fire Station.  Participants need to remain in their cars and staff will take the orders and bring them out.

There will be two dinner options: Adult Dinner $10 or Senior Dinners $9, both include: corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, carrots, bread, butter, dessert, and a soda. Seniors must be 62 or older.

Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana will continue to deliver meals and is closely monitoring the development of COVID – 19.

Valparaiso Rise’n Roll is offering $1 regular donuts during this time to share some happiness. Order by phone for curbside delivery (219) 242-8160.

United Way of Porter County is providing an online community resource at The online guide directs residents to government, health, education, and social services websites and features information about coronavirus quarantine, childcare resources, food resources, financial assistance services, e-learning topics and more. Residents interested in volunteer opportunities will also find ways to help out their community here as well.

United Way of Porter County has also created the Coronavirus Pandemic Relief Fund to help those most affected.

For information about the relief fund and to donate, visit

Information about the resource guide can be found at and will be continually updated as new information becomes available.

The La Porte County Center Township Trustees Office offered information for emergency food pantries:

La Porte County Emergency Food 3/16 – 3/21

Food Pantry – Center Township Trustee 9 a.m.- 12 p.m.
Salvation Army 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
St. Joe Catholic Church 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Soup Kitchen- Salvation Army 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Food Pantry – Salvation Army 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Soup Kitchen – Salvation Army 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Food Pantry – Center Township Trustee 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Pax Center 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Food Pantry – The Pax Center 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Salvation Army 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Soup Kitchen – Salvation Army 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Food Pantry – Center Township Trustee 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Soup Kitchen – Salvation Army 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Food pantry – The Pax Center 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

In addition, Scholastic knows that missing school isn’t easy for kids—or for parents. But they also know that there are simple ways to turn unexpected time at home into exciting opportunities for students to learn, think, and grow. That is why they’ve created Scholastic’s Learn at Home website. This free resource provides children with 20* days of exciting articles and stories, videos, and fun learning challenges. Children can complete them anytime, in any order. They can work on their own or together with their family. Visit . These active learning journeys are available on any device and will provide children with up to three hours’ worth of exciting learning experiences per day. They can go on virtual field trips, meet best-selling authors, or dig deep into a topic they love.

The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is currently providing food assistance and resources through several different methods. Follow the link to learn more:

If you are looking for ways to help, there are many senior centers, not-for-profits, grocery stores, and other organizations looking for a helping hand. And of course, you can do your part in other ways by practicing social distancing and only leaving your home for the necessities.

There is a NEW toll-free number for Indiana's COVID-19 Call Center: 877-826-0011. If you are calling with general questions about coronavirus, PRESS 1; If you are a healthcare provider calling about the novel coronavirus, PRESS 2.

The Portage YMCA is serving free meals to families daily. Details here: