Emily Schrader was one of the first people to take part in the #CoronaConnectionChallenge. Emily Schrader was one of the first people to take part in the #CoronaConnectionChallenge. Emily Schrader was one of the first people to take part in the #CoronaConnectionChallenge. (Photo: Courtesy Emily Schrader)

Israelis launch global good Samaritan campaign to help those in quarantine

From buying Netflix gift cards to delivering groceries and good cheer, no act is too small in the #CoronaConnectionChallenge.

For Emily Schrader, a native Californian who now lives in Israel, going grocery shopping in her Tel Aviv neighborhood is usually nothing to write home about. But a trip she took to the store this week was unlike any other.

Her friend Roy had recently traveled abroad. When he returned to Israel, out of an abundance of caution, he had to self-quarantine at home for two weeks. Schrader wanted to help, so she hatched a plan to go grocery shopping for him, making sure to leave the bags outside his door.

Schrader's good Samaritan gesture is part of a new campaign launched by the Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel's version of the Red Cross. Called the #CoronaConnectionChallenge, the instructions are quite simple:

1. Do a good deed for someone affected by the virus without interacting in person. It could be for a person who is quarantined or had to cancel travel plans. For example, like Emily, you could deliver groceries. Or you could pay for a month of Netflix for your friend. Anything to help brighten their day and make it a little easier.

2. Share the experience online and tag two friends to do the same.

3. If you don’t know anyone impacted but still want to help, donate to the Magen David Adom and tag two friends to do the same.

Roy Stein shows his full fridge thanks to friends like Emily Schrader who have dropped groceries at his doorstep. Roy Stein shows his full fridge thanks to friends like Emily Schrader who have dropped groceries at his doorstep. (Photo: Courtesy Roy Stein)

"I hope that more people – not just in Israel – will think about something like this," Schrader told From The Grapevine. "Be creative and come up with different ways to help each other. And maybe that doesn't mean delivering groceries. Maybe it just means taking time to talk to someone on the phone that they wouldn't normally do. But I think it's a good way to help people. There's a lot of resources we have digitally and we should use them."

Inbal Rauchwerger, manager of the public relations department at the MDA, helped launch the campaign first as a way to help fellow MDA employees and volunteers, and then quickly expanded it to the general population. "I think the fact that people are reaching out to one another and not shutting down, and keeping in touch and making sure that everyone is OK – it really is the Israeli spirit," Rauchwerger said. "This is what we do for one another."

Inbal Rauchwerger launched the campaign on Wednesday at her office at the Magen David Adom. Inbal Rauchwerger launched the campaign on Wednesday at her office at the Magen David Adom. (Photo: Courtesy MDA PR Dept.)

Asked what the most inspiring act of kindness she's seen so far in the campaign, she replied: "I think to cook for someone is very a personal thing when you are making something for someone."

Zina Rakhamilova, a Canadian now living in Israel, asked a street performer to sing the classic "All by Myself" to her friends in quarantine. She recorded it and posted it to social media.

Schrader, the CEO of a digital marketing firm in Israel, is happy to see the success of the campaign so far, and believes it will blossom even more in the coming weeks. "I saw a lot of people doing it on Instagram Stories. We're seeing an interesting combination of platforms. It's not just on Facebook or Twitter, but everywhere."

In these trying times of a global health crisis, Facebook feeds – with their constant barrage of breaking news headlines – can often make people feel more anxious. Schrader hopes that the #CoronaConnectionChallenge serves as an antidote to that, allowing social media to bring people together despite solitude and distance. "Already, we live in an era where it's hard to get people to connect with each other in person. Even myself, I will go out with friends and I'm on the phone the whole time. It's a really bad habit," she said. "But I like that even in the face of something that is literally dividing people that this is an effort to bring people together."

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Related Topics: Humanitarian

Israelis launch global good Samaritan campaign to help those in quarantine
Want to do a good deed for someone affected by COVID-19 without interacting in person? Here's how to be part of the Corona Connection Challenge.