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    Six Feet Apart, United at Heart - Giving Back During a Pandemic



    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kristen C Yarber 


    NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (April 14, 2020) – The novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) drastically changed life as we know it in a matter of months. While humanity collectively grieves and reels from the societal and economic impacts of COVID-19, a positive side effect from these circumstances stands out: unity.
    People all over the world are united in the fight against this disease. The planet is experiencing global camaraderie. Companies, organizations, and individuals are working tirelessly to boost the supply of face masks and sanitation products.
    U.S. Navy Sailors understand this concept of solidarity, perhaps better than most. Sailors are familiar with isolation from the world. They are accustomed to a desire and a need for friendship and teamwork among total strangers. They understand the long hours and sleepless nights that some employees in the healthcare system currently face. This empathetic mindset has led many Sailors to wonder how they can help.
    “It is incredibly important for us to support our communities, especially during the ongoing crisis, to demonstrate solidarity and provide an extra layer of support,” said Chief Religious Program Specialist Terrill D. Scott, departmental leading chief petty officer of USS George Washington’s (CVN 73) command religious ministries department (CRMD). “Civilian communities often look to the military for support during times of distress, and we have a responsibility to continue this tradition.”
    CRMD typically provides volunteer opportunities in the local community during ordinary circumstances. However, the current situation has halted ordinary volunteer opportunities until further notice.
    “Unfortunately, we have suspended our volunteer program to promote social distancing and minimize contact to COVID-19,” said Scott. “While the programs we support are incredibly beneficial to the community, we are obligated to prioritize the health of our Sailors.”
    Fortunately, there are several ways George Washington Sailors can give back to their community while maintaining social distance. The help Sailors are able to provide is now more important than ever as the world grapples with shutdowns, stay-at-home orders, and adjusting to a new “normal.”
    The American Red Cross encourages those who can give blood to make an appointment and donate. According to their website, people may still donate even if they live in areas with shelter-in-place orders. Recently, they have been able to meet immediate patient needs, but will only be able to keep up with those requirements if people continue to donate blood. The organization is also seeking plasma donations from people who have fully recovered from a COVID-19 diagnosis. Their plasma may have antibodies that can help patients with immediate life-threatening COVID-19 infections. Visit to learn more and find a local donation center.
    Another valuable way to help others during this time is sewing face masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides face-covering guidelines and instructions on how to make them. More information on face masks and coverings is available at the CDC’s website,
    In addition, donating to food pantries and other charitable organizations is an effective way to help local communities and the nation as a whole. The virus has placed a significant strain on America’s food banks, and they are requesting monetary donations as well as volunteers to help pack and deliver food to those in need.
    “You can always donate books, old gaming consoles, puzzles or board games to local organizations,” said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Ismael Cazarez, CRMD’s work center supervisor. “I find that these times are filled with a lot of uncertainty. Having something to occupy our mind is a great way to keep hope alive and cultivate a positive attitude.”
    Sailors should keep proper social distancing and sanitary measures in mind should they choose to volunteer in the ways listed above, or in any other ways they see fit. Remaining at least six feet away from others, wearing a face mask or covering, and frequently washing hands are essential to stopping the spread of this disease. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer should be used.
    “It is extremely important to practice social distancing, because COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person contact,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Sheryl Pilcher, the leading petty officer of George Washington’s medical department. “Social distancing means staying at home as much as possible and avoiding going to crowded places that have more than 10 people.”
    These are uncertain and unprecedented times. Every day presents new questions and more challenges. However, selfless acts of volunteerism can help alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 and can foster goodwill between volunteers and those they help. Giving back, in whatever form that takes, can help strengthen the bonds of a team. Even while social distancing, we can remain unified as a command, a Navy, and a nation.

    Join the conversation with GW online at,, and For more news from USS George Washington, visit www.




    Date Taken: 05.05.2020
    Date Posted: 05.06.2020 11:11
    Story ID: 369303
    Location: NEWPORT NEWS, VA, US 

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