Fred Rogers, of that oh-so-famous "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," recalled that when he was a child and was alarmed by disasters on the news, his mother told him: "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."

The same is true in the Baton Rouge area during the coronavirus outbreak. We asked our readers to tell us about acts of kindness, and there are many. We will continue to post your stories to shine a light on these good Samaritans, or, as Mr. Rogers might say, these good neighbors.

If you've got a story to share, send it to features@theadvocate.com. Please include everyone's full name and city where they live.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Rhonda Perdue tells us her daughter and her family have been especially helpful.

Perdue and her daughter, Sarah Jones, own the UPS Store on Coursey Boulevard. Following Gov. John Bel Edwards' stay-at-home order, they furloughed their two employees, and Perdue's age puts her in a higher risk category. Since her husband, Tim, is considered an essential employee at a refinery, Perdue has been home alone and Sarah is running the store solo.

"She works alone from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., six days a week, in order to keep our employees safe," Perdue wrote, "and protecting me all the while meeting the needs of the customers, practicing safe distancing and trying to stay healthy herself. She is a superhero in my eyes!"

Sarah's husband, Michael, works full time but checks in on Perdue, bringing groceries and lunches. Their son, Walter, a senior at St. Amant High School, helps his mom at the store when he is not studying or working at Ascension Parish Animal Hospital as a technician.

"He recently gave blood when he received the call saying there is a need for blood donations," Perdue said. "He plans to join the Army National Guard in May 2020. Knowing that the National Guard has been called to service regarding the COVID19 pandemic, I asked him if this would change his decision to enlist and he said, 'No, if anything, it makes me want to join even more. They need me.' I am very proud of him as I’m sure you can imagine. As you can see it is hard to 'Keep up with the Joneses.' They have a high bar and won’t settle for anything less."

Life Source lifeline

As a nursing home hospice nurse for Life Source Services, Lorraine Crifasi has seen end-of-life tragedy compounded by restrictions on visitors caused by the coronavirus, leaving residents confused and lonely and family members anxious. Her team has facilitated FaceTime calls between residents and loved ones.

"Oh the relief, joy, and tears experienced during these calls!" she said. "Many family members had not been in contact with their loved one since the restrictions were enforced.

"I am tickled to see the wonder on many of the older residents faces. Not only surprise when a family member appears on the screen, but delight in viewing their own image! I am truly blessed to be a part of this tender experience."  

Can I get a little vanilla with that?

Being furloughed from your job is unpleasant. Having a kind boss makes it much better.

Cassandra Garza worked at the Woodhouse Day Spa in Baton Rouge until three weeks ago, when the virus outbreak forced it to suspend operations. Rachel Ransom, the general manager at Woodhouse, asked her and her colleagues how they were doing.

"I responded truthfully but somewhat jokingly: I am making French toast, and it looks like we used the last of our vanilla extract, but that we’re doing fine!" Garza said.

When Ransom brought Garza her last paycheck, she brought a little something extra — vanilla extract.

"I thought that was just so random, but extremely thoughtful and awesome!" Garza said. "It was a small gesture, but it just made me feel cared for. Experimenting with baking brings me joy. During this difficult time it's important to find joy and to be kind whenever possible. Thank you so much, Rachel!"  

Now that's nice

Veronica Berteaux's home has a handicap ramp that extends from the front door to the sidewalk. Her daily newspaper lands on the sidewalk in front of the ramp. Every day, a woman who walks in the neighborhood brings it to her front door.

"I don't know her name or where she lives, but we truly appreciate her doing this," Berteaux said. 

Hot dog!

Susan Lipsey reports that Kevin Ortego, owner of Louisiana Lagniappe restaurant, which is known for its finer cuisine, decided one day to offer a hot dog takeout lunch, the proceeds of which would go directly to his employees. His daughter, Lindsay, spread the word on social media and Lamar Outdoor Advertising donated a billboard.

The idea was a hit. Ortego bought 500 hots dogs and buns. Before 11 a.m., cars were lined up on Perkins Road. Ortega and his son, Matthew, worked the grill, and they quickly realized they needed more hot dogs. They ended up selling 1,650. The restaurant absorbed the cost of the food and supplies, Lipsey wrote, and customers gave generous tips. Each employee took home over $400.

"Bless the Ortego family for such an act of kindness," Lipsey said.

She said the restaurant will repeat the hot dog sale at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, April 16, and hopes to sell 1,000 or more lunches with 100% of proceeds going o the employees.