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Neighbors' helping hands group making a difference during the pandemic

St. Pete's Uptown neighborhood started its own Nextdoor group to connect those in need with those who can help.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There are two simple sides: those who need help and those who can help. One man in St. Petersburg’s Uptown neighborhood couldn’t find a way to connect them, so he created one.

Ty Pletcher shared with 10 Tampa Bay's Courtney Robinson all the good that has happened in the three months since he started the “St. Petersburg Helping Hands” group on Nextdoor.

“I’m a doer. I like to get out there,” Pletcher said.

Pletcher wanted to help be a connector for people while he was treating patients he could not physically help at his job as a registered nurse.

“When this [coronavirus pandemic] started happening, I saw a lot of need on one side of the aisle saying: ‘I need to get groceries, I need to get my prescriptions filled, I am immuno-compromised and I can’t leave the house. It’s not safe.’ And then on the other side, I saw a lot of people posting for I want to help,” he said.

That was early March. Pletcher says he couldn't find online forums to connect the two groups, so he did what he could by using Nextdoor to create one.

“I posted it and had people you know joining within minutes. It just showed up on people's feeds and they joined. There were volunteers, there were people in need,” he said.

Now with 40 members and 15 active volunteers, they’ve done everything from delivering groceries to helping educate seniors on how to use technology to get items delivered.

“That also promotes a lot of independence. In a time like this when you feel like a lot of control is taken away from you, being able to do things for yourself really helps you feel normal or human sometimes. So even having just a bit of education like, ‘Oh! I can order my groceries, but I can order them myself,’ is a huge thing as well,” Pletcher said.

He says the need still exists even as the state begins to reopen, as does their learned ways to adapt together and come together.

“I hope that these connections stay. It’s really been an amazing cascade of help, generosity and love for the community.”

This story was inspired by a local resident who let Courtney Robinson know about the awesome things happening in their neighborhood on Nextdoor. She’s looking to share the positive stories of neighbors helping neighbors. Click here to see and comment on Courtney’s Nextdoor posts.

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