Mara Altman

Mara Altman for NYT – “Who Helps Out in a Crisis?”

Courtesy of NYTimes
Posted July 14, 2020
By A|U Author, Mara Altman

When Heidi Hotmer, 48, first heard about the pandemic, she wasn’t sure how she’d get through it. But within days after her city’s shelter-in-place order was issued, she figured out a plan. Hotmer closed her business, an online handicrafting shop, took out her sewing machine and began making masks. “I decided that rather than try to sell stuff to people who were desperately hurting,” she said, “I would try to give back.” She began transforming bolts of fabric from her shop into masks she would give to others free.

Sometimes she sews all day. Sometimes she is only able to squeeze in a few hours while also spending time with her 11-year-old daughter. But what is certain is that each time she turns over masks to their new owners — 758 masks and counting — she feels a sense of purpose that she hasn’t felt before. “This has definitely helped me cope,” she said of helping people. “It’s just the best feeling.”

During this pandemic, in a pattern that echoes other major crises, people across the world have stepped up to donate their time, skills, knowledge and resources, and have even risked their lives, for nothing material in return. But while men and women are equally likely to help, they tend to do it in different ways.

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