PROVINCETOWN — Many studies have shown that acts of kindness cause the brain to release calming and happiness-boosting hormones. Psychologists say the result can feel like a runner’s high.
Provincetown residents may be feeling that high — because there is a river of donations flowing to Stop & Shop employees and to local residents in need.
The Canteen restaurant has been delivering groceries to paying customers. Co-owner Rob Anderson told the Independent that he posted three requests on social media and quickly received $7,000 in donations to pay for free groceries to those needing assistance.
At the Provincetown Stop & Shop, grocery clerks have been flooded with gifts from shoppers expressing appreciation. On Monday, Provincetown resident Eleanor Pannesi gave $2,000 to Stop & Shop employees and another anonymous donor gave $500, said Melinda McCarthy, the store manager.
Each of the store’s 50 employees got $50 gift certificates out of that. A few days earlier the owners of the Boatslip Resort & Beach Club had given $1,000, which McCarthy used to provide the protein for Easter dinners for all employees, she said.
The Stop & Shop company itself gave union employees 10-percent raises, which will continue throughout the stay-at-home advisory, McCarthy added.
On top of that, the supermarket clerks have been treated to pizza by the Provincetown Covid-19 Task Force, and the owners of the restaurant Chach brought over breakfast sandwiches.
“It’s just so much, so much,” said McCarthy. “There are so many things that the community has done. I could go on. Positivity breeds positivity. People are paying it forward. They appreciate that the front line works. That’s what everyone is saying.”
None of the Stop & Shop employees in Provincetown has tested positive for the coronavirus, said Maria Fruci, a corporate spokeswoman for Stop & Shop. She declined to say how many had tested positive throughout the country.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents the company’s employees here and over 900,000 grocery workers nationwide, estimates that 30 members have died of Covid-19, with tens of thousands of others affected. In the early weeks of the outbreak, stores across the country were overwhelmed by hoarding shoppers, prompting the union and other advocacy groups to plead for guidance from the CDC on uniform protections for grocery workers. By now, stores from Orleans to Provincetown all appear to have instituted sanitizing and social-distancing safety practices.
Now, the contagion of kindness has spread beyond essential workers.
Last week, a few members of the community raised $5,000 to provide Easter baskets to the 156 children in the Provincetown Schools. McCarthy organized the effort after a phone call to Rick Murray, owner of the Crown & Anchor. He called a few friends and within “four minutes” he had raised $3,000, she said. The AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod and the Provincetown Police Dept. each donated $1,000 towards the Easter baskets.
Of all these acts of generosity, the one that made national news was a donation by an anonymous man of $5,000 to those age 60 and older who are invited to shop from 6 to 7:30 a.m. daily at the Provincetown Stop & Shop, McCarthy said.
McCarthy didn’t tell anyone — not even the cashiers — until Good Friday morning. That day, every shopper from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. found at the check-out that their groceries were free.
“One woman was crying because her government assistance for food had run out,” McCarthy said. “Her order was over $300 and she was just elated.”
Anderson, who has been delivering free groceries, said the three groups who seem to have the greatest need now are older homebound people, those who have lost their income unexpectedly, and low-income and undocumented workers, especially those with families.
But many want to help.
“People in this town have stepped up in a major way,” said Anderson.