Making a difference: Feeding doctors by helping restaurants; teaching remotely; and a life-saving experiment

Making a difference: Feeding doctors by helping restaurants; teaching remotely; and a life-saving experiment

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Coco Bar & Bistro at 888 Main St. in Buffalo is among the restaurants that have joined the effort to feed health professionals here. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

It doesn’t take much to find examples of Western New Yorkers making a difference during these strange days of social distancing/distant socializing. Go for a walk and you’ll see good people taking care not to close in on others. That’s become especially important as it turns out some contagious people don’t even know they’re infected.

Other examples:

Two of the hardest-hit sectors of the local and national economy are the medical and food-service industries. Doctors, hospitals and others are overwhelmed as they risk their own health to treat those who have been infected with the novel coronavirus. Many restaurants, meanwhile, are balancing on the brink of collapse as New York State has limited them to takeout and delivery only.

Enter WNY Feeds the Frontline. The newly formed organization accepts donations, 100% of which go to restaurants that prepare meals for delivery to health professionals. Former Assemblyman Sam Hoyt and his sister, Carolyn Hoyt Stevens, launched the project based on a similar effort on Long Island. They’re getting lots of help from benefactors including New Era Cap and attorney Daniel Greene.

As of Friday, donations totaled more than $50,000, coming from more than 750 people in amounts ranging from $10 – enough for one meal – to $2,500. The organization has worked with at least 10 restaurants and plans to add more. To donate, go to wnyfeedsthefrontline.org.

Many teachers are doing what they can to help keep their students engaged as schools are out of session. Among them is Louis Shafer, music teacher and choral director at Frontier High School in Hamburg. Rather than leave his students hanging – he misses them, he said – he organized a “virtual choir,” assembling and recording them remotely. The result is a version of Frank Ticheli’s “Earth Song.”

Shafer isn’t alone in this kind of project. Among others, a high school in Amherst has done it. An A-plus to them all.

Buffalo may have a role saving the most threatened of those infected with this potentially fatal virus. Three hospitals here have been given permission to use an experimental treatment for those at a critical stage of illness. The treatment, in which a monoclonal antibody is deployed against a protein that can worsen symptoms, showed promise in China. The local effort is led by Dr. Igor Puzanov of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. It’s yet another way our health professionals are proving themselves essential.

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