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Submitted / The Outlook Ruth Anna Culberson, pictured, finds a lizard while playing outside during childcare with Joy Johns on Tuesday.

With the recent school closings, business hours changing and uncertainty of the next few weeks during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s a relief to know there are community members out there willing to lend a hand to those in need.

One of the main concerns with students being kept at home is working parents who would otherwise have a plan for their children — at least during school hours.

As a result, community members have stepped up to offer childcare for families who may need it.

Kristin Beene lives in StillWaters and is the mother of two daughters, 5 and 8. Because she is fortunate to have the opportunity to stay home during this time, she hopes to offset the burden of other struggling parents by opening up her home.

“I want to do whatever I can to help out,” Beene said. “This is something children shouldn’t have to worry about. I want to keep their minds off everything and keep them entertained and in a routine as much as possible.”

Next week, teachers are sending home lesson plans for their students to stay updated on schoolwork and the curriculum. Beene plans to analyze this and supplement it with exciting activities and science projects, such as erupting volcanoes.

“I want them to have fun but also keep them involved in education,” she said.

Beene has reached out to some teachers to also offer assistance with providing sack lunches or nonperishables to those who rely on meals at school.

“I want to help anybody in any way I can,” she said.

Beene is willing to take in as many kids as is legally allowed and doesn’t mind watching children any time of the day.

“If you have to go to work at 4 a.m., I am open to you dropping off your child; however I can help I will,” she said.

If interested, Beene can be reached on Facebook or via email at kbyal013@yahoo.com.

Similarly, Alexander City native Joy Johns is offering childcare for all ages. Most recently, Johns was substitute teaching, so she already is background-check approved by local schools.

“I am hoping to get a teaching certificate in the future,” Johns said. “So I found myself in a position where I could do some substitute teaching to get my foot in the door.”

Johns grew up taking care of her younger brother and has been a babysitter since she was old enough. The urge to nurture children, especially in a time of need, is strong in her values.

Also, Johns is strongly against just plopping a child in front of a screen all day and plans to interact with the children, teach them new hobbies and expose them to nature.

“We baked a cake Wednesday; played dominoes and card games; we even learned how to do dishes,” Johns said.

While exploring the outdoors this week, the kids she is currently responsible for, who are 4 and 9, discovered some snails and made a little home for them in a flowerpot.

“That was Tuesday, so Wednesday we checked on the snail home,” she said.

While Beene is opening up her home to watch children, Johns prefers going to families’ homes.

“Right now it’s easier to go there because that’s where the kids are comfortable, especially the little ones,” said Johns, who also is first aid and CPR-certified.

Contact Johns at 256-596-0587 for assistance with childcare.

On the other end of the spectrum, the elderly are of high concern for the community and many are volunteering their time to run errands, go grocery shopping, pick up prescriptions or whatever else is needed so those highly susceptible to COVID-19 won’t have to leave their homes with the potential to be exposed.

Donna King with First Baptist Church of Alexander City is organizing a database church members can utilize to request help or offer aid.

“We have elderly people in our congregation and even some people going through chemotherapy,” King said. “We don’t want people to feel they need to be exposed.”

The roughly 600-member church is offering volunteer servants who are willing to help. Members will receive an email blast with this information as well as a call from the church office through a phone tree system.

“If someone needs help, they just contact me and I will set them up with a volunteer for that day,” King said.

While the list was intended for First Baptist churchgoers, King said, of course she wouldn’t turn away anybody who needed help. Call King at 334-300-4757 for assistance.

First United Methodist Church of Alexander City also will be assisting with those that are shut-ins or suffer from health issues. Call Debbie Bain at 256-496-3001 for anyone needing help and can’t leave their homes in fear of added exposure.

Caring for neighbors is a vital part of what the community is all about and the Young Acres neighborhood is just one example of such that is lending helping hands. Stephanie Daughtry said she and her family are willing to assist others in the neighborhood by ensuring the elderly and health-conscious are stocked with food, medications and supplies. For those seeking that assistance, visit the Young Acres Facebook page.

There is no shortage of compassionate souls in Alexander City nor is there a lack of highly susceptible residents searching for a little support and relief.

Amy Passaretti is the editor of Lake Martin Living and Elmore County Living.