Random acts of kindness are being conducted worldwide to help people get through the COVID-19 outbreak (Credit: www.mentalhealth.org.uk)

With schools and businesses closed and many cities and towns under mandatory shelter-in-place orders, the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has drastically changed lives globally within a matter of weeks. To bring joy, optimism, and strength during this difficult period, people and organizations worldwide are performing random acts of kindness for total strangers. Here are a few heartwarming deeds that will bring a smile to your face during these unprecedented times.

Paying it forward

The ban on in-person dining, imposed across many states to slow down the spread of COVD-19, is hitting the US restaurant industry hard, leaving many on the brink of shutting down. Now, some loyal customers are stepping up to help their favorite eateries. On March 18, 2020, a regular patron at Irma's Southwest, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston, Texas, stunned workers by leaving a $9,400 tip, with a note saying, "Hold tip to pay your guys over the next few weeks." Owner Louis Galvan, told Foxnews, "It was a regular — a regular of the restaurant for about 15 years. He came in and had a modest dinner of shrimp tacos and then left a $9,400 gratuity."

Coaches Bar and Grill in Columbus, Ohio, experienced similar generosity from a patron who added a hefty $2,500 tip to his modest $29.75 tab, to be split among the restaurant's workers.

An anonymous customer left a $9,400 tip for the workers at Irma's Southwest in Houston, Texas(Credit: Louis Galvan)

Chefs and restaurant owners across the country are also finding creative ways to help their staff, while also contributing to their communities. San Francisco, California's popular Che Fico is putting together ready-to-go meals with a retail value of $50 that can be bought or picked up for free by those in need. Anyone purchasing a meal is encouraged to donate $50 towards a free meal for a family in need. Many restaurants in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, are giving away free food to anyone in need via donations, while others are adding rolls of toilet paper, which are in short-supply, to delivery orders!

World Central Kitchen, a non-profit spearheaded by Spanish-American chef José Andrés to provide meals during natural disasters, is working with partners to safely distribute individually-packaged fresh meals to communities in need in Los Angeles and Oakland, California, Washington, DC, and Little Rock, Arkansas.


Canadian residents Mita Hans and Valentina Harper started the caremongering effort to help people in need (Credit: Facebook)

If the word "caremongering" sounds unfamiliar, it is because the term did not exist prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Created to calm COVID-19 fears and to allow people to help those who are struggline, the online effort is the brainchild of Canadian residents Mita Hans and Valentina Harper. Speaking to the BBC, Harper said, "Scaremongering is a big problem. We wanted to switch that around and get people to connect on a positive level, to connect. It's [Caremongering's] spread the opposite of panic in people, brought out community and camaraderie and allowed us to tackle the needs of those who are at-risk all the time - now more than ever."

Though the organizers had known that their social media altruism effort would resonate with people, even they are surprised at its rapid surge in popularity. There are now numerous caremongering groups established among Canadian communities, all helping each other during these anxious times. Over the past few weeks, "caremongers" across the country have helped deliver hundreds of meals to those in need, and made numerous supermarket visits for those who are unable or too weak to go themselves.

Random acts of kindness can be performed by people of all ages (Credit: www.mentalhealth.org.uk)

"Caremongering" is not just within the realm of adults. When the coronavirus social distancing order forced four-year-old Detroit resident Aiden to cancel his birthday party, his best friends, who live a few houses away, came up with a brilliant idea to lift his spirits. They set up a sign outside his home urging drivers to "honk for the birthday boy" as they drove past. Meanwhile, in London, UK, seven-year-old Jimmy-Dean Hudson used his pocket money to buy 70 rolls of toilet paper to distribute to those in need in his community. His mother said the young boy came up with the idea after seeing his elderly neighbors panicking because there was none available at the local stores.

Lockdown singalongs

Italy, where the coronavirus outbreak and deaths have surpassed those in China, has been under a mandatory total lockdown since March 9, 2020. To keep their spirits up during this difficult period, residents across the country have been participating in neighborhood singalongs from the safety of their balconies.

Television production crews donate masks, gloves, and other necessities to hospitals

Health workers in need of hard-to-find medical supplies, such as masks and gloves, are getting assistance from an unlikely source — network television! Production crews of medical dramas, including The Good Doctor, The Resident, and Grey's Anatomy, which all use real medical supplies on set, are donating their entire stock to hospitals, fire stations, and other organizations combating coronavirus outbreaks throughout North America.

Artists help students banish coronavirus blues

With worldwide school closures, millions of students are trying to find fun and educational activities to pass the days. American children's book author and illustrator Mo Willems, is helping ease COVID-19 boredom with a free drawing tutorial. A new "Lunch Doodles" appears every weekday​​​​​​ at 1 PM EST on the Kennedy Center website.

Meanwhile, Broadway star Laura Benanti is asking aspiring actors and singers, whose school performances had to be canceled due to COVID-19 to put on shows at home and share the videos on Twitter with the hashtag #SunshineSongs for everyone to view. "Dark times for all. Trying to find some bright spots. If you were meant to perform in your high school musical and it was canceled, please post yourself singing and tag me. I want to be your audience!!" she tweeted.

While COVID-19 presents the world with uncertainty, people and groups like these remind us of all the positive ways we can impact our communities during times of need.

Stay strong and healthy! We are all in this together!

Resources: www.independent.co.uk, opentable.com,www.cbs17.com, clickondetroit.com, www.bbc.com