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San Luis Obispo shows true altruism despite COVID-19

A decorated car drives by for AJ’s birthday. Photo by Victoria Acton

Businesses are having to shut down, people are losing their livelihoods, and many are having to worry about where they will be within the next few months.

Despite the circumstances, the community of San Luis Obispo has come together to help their neighbors in whatever way they can.

There have been car parades for childrens’ birthdays, college students doing grocery shopping for their elderly neighbors, distilleries making hand sanitizer, and hundreds of people at home sewing masks for local health centers. The community is showing true altruism during a time of crisis. 

People have gone beyond the limits of simply asking their neighbors if they’d like help with getting their groceries. There has been an outpour of able-bodied people looking to help complete strangers within their community. Facebook groups called Adopt-a-Neighbor are all over the county, and it allows those that are looking to lend a hand to find those that may need it.

In Atascadero, Victoria Acton reached out to help a local hospital worker organize a car parade for her daughter’s birthday after posting about it on the Adopt-a-Neighbor page. Acton made online invites that were posted to social media for any locals to attend the drive-by birthday party. 

“This all started when I saw a car parade on Instagram,” Acton said. “I posted in the Adopt-a-Neighbor Atascadero group for anyone that had a reason to do a car parade that I would love to organize and help out. That’s when this lovely lady who works at a hospital in SLO reached out and told me it was her daughter’s 9th birthday. With mom working so hard at the hospital during this crazy time and little AJ turning 9 I knew this was the perfect time to spread love to this deserving family.”

The acts of those like Acton in the community are providing a much needed relief from the many negative headlines that grace social media feeds regularly. This time is difficult for everyone in San Luis Obispo, but with small acts of kindness from neighbors, there’s an opportunity to remind residents to stay strong and stick together even if they’re socially distanced. 

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Aubrie Arndt is currently a journalism student at Cuesta college, and is taking on the role as Editor-in-Chief here at The Cuestonian this semester. Originally from San Diego, she only moved to San Luis Obispo a little over two years ago after going through a major life change. She didn't decide to go back to school until the semester that COVID-19 broke out, and although challenging it is a decision she's glad she stuck with. Throughout her time at Cuesta she has been on the school newspaper multiple semesters, and taken a variety of photography classes. Outside of the classroom she dabbles with film photography, and recently even started selling prints of her work online. She also wrote for her own blog for several years and is bringing it back this Fall as a healthy outlet for her to share some of her passions, and has even had a bit of poetry published on online magazines. With a past in working with social media, marketing, and branding she's hoping to start putting out freelance work for a variety of publications this coming year. There are many things she'd like to accomplish in the next year, and is hopeful she will also be able to relocate to the Bay Area for school depending on how the pandemic evolves. Until then you can find her sharing her work online, out on solo road trips in her native state, taking photos with her favorite film cameras in tow, or hiding out at home watching films with her two feline companions.