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We Are #InThisTogether: Inspiration During the Pandemic

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Like many of you, I’ve been following the news with a heavy heart. But amid the sadness and frustration, I also feel an immense gratitude. I’m grateful to be able to work and support my employees; I’m grateful to be able to make and share my gourmet cookies with communities from coast to coast.  

After all, in a time when we are told to isolate and stay at home, finding creative new ways to support each other (and ourselves) becomes more important than ever. Here are some inspiring stories I’ve encountered about people making a difference and fostering community — and how we can do the same — along with useful tips for staying safe, healthy and informed. 

How We’re #InThisTogether: Using What We Have at Home

Make Masks

While many people have been making masks out of old shirts or fabric, masks made from HEPA filter vacuum cleaner bags can provide substantially more protection than cotton. According to Dr. Ryan Southworth, an emergency medicine doctor, these are the best and safest masks we can make at home, and the material can filter out 99.97% of airborne particulate matter. I recently bought a sewing machine and aim to make one mask a day, until I run out of bags. 

All you need are some HEPA filter vacuum cleaner bags and a few basic supplies. Here is a step-by-step video tutorial, and here are the written instructions. Along with making masks for your family and friends, you can also donate them to healthcare workers.

In another month, there will be no need to make masks as new products are being raced to market. These new masks from Vistaprint look particularly promising and are expected May 21.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published easy-to-follow guidelines about wearing masks safely. Key points include thoroughly cleaning your hands before putting on your mask, and avoiding touching your mask while wearing it. WHO recommends that your mouth and nose are completely covered, leaving no gaps between your face and the mask.  

Remember to take necessary precautions when going outside and into public spaces. 

Start Our Own Fundraisers

Big fundraising efforts can arise from simple ideas. Captain Tom Moore didn’t let stay-at-home orders stop him from showing his gratitude for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) workers. To raise money for NHS staff, the 99-year-old war veteran said he would complete 100 laps of his garden by his 100th birthday a few weeks later — within 24 hours of launching the fundraiser, he had surpassed his goal of £1,000. Since the beginning of April, he has raised over £27 million, or about $33 million, and counting. Meanwhile, 7-year-old Steven Burgess helped raise around $1,500 for hospitals by running around his backyard for six hours, showing how creativity and determination can help raise awareness and make a difference. 

Entertaining Your Children

Neighborhoods throughout the world have been invaded by a different sort of wildlife — teddy bears. With “bear hunts,” community members place teddy bears in their windows so families can spot the animals on daily walks or drives. In some cities, kids have even donned safari gear and binoculars while traipsing along the streets. Easy to replicate in your own neighborhood, it allows for fun and fresh air while maintaining social distancing. 

For inside activities, many artists are sharing videos teaching kids — and adults — new skills to keep them occupied and engaged. Children's author and illustrator Mo Willems partnered with the Kennedy Center to create 15 videos exploring art and writing. All of the videos are available for free through the Kennedy Center website to view with your family.

Stay Informed

Filing for unemployment benefits can help alleviate difficulties if you or your loved ones have lost work, but understanding how to access them can be difficult. Unemployment requirements are state-dependent, but this list breaks down what each state requires in order to apply.

COVID-19 trackers streamline related COVID-19 news and updates, such as Johns Hopkins’ virus tracker. On Mercer Island, WA — near Kirkland, where Pinckney Cookie Cafe is based — Avi Schiffman, a 17-year-old high school student, created, a site that collects data from sources including the WHO and the CDC to share COVID-19 case updates through tables and simple graphics. 

How We’re #InThisTogether: To Nourish the Community

Pinckney Cookie Cafe’s $5 Cookie Donations

We want to do our part to help make a difference, which is why $5 from every order of a dozen cookies or more will be donated to one of several charities, ranging from local to international relief efforts. Simply make a purchase and select your charity of choice at checkout.  

The charities include: 

  • Seattle Farmers Market Association’s Farm Relief Fund
  • Seattle Neigborhood Farmers Markets Good Farmer Fund
  • The Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation
  • Seattle Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund
  • Feeding America COVID-19 Relief Fund
  • Boys & Girls Club COVID-19 Relief Fund 
  • GiveDirectly

More information about these charities can be found on a prior blog post.

Drive-Through Farmers Markets

Pinckney Cookie Cafe is a friend of farmers markets — and though we might not be able to spend this spring browsing stands of fresh produce and baked goods, many markets throughout the country are offering drive-through options. In Seattle, the Ballard and University District markets are piloting these new approaches.

Prioritizing health and safety, these drive-through markets often allow online pre-ordering and encourage social distancing. By checking if your local market is offering drive-through, you can support local vendors and farmers while enjoying delicious, fresh food. If you can’t visit a market, Local Harvest can help you connect with local farmers. 

Is It Safe to Eat Out? 

For the most part, yes. According to health experts at the CDC, risk of illness when getting food takeout or delivery is low. So far, there has been limited risk associated with packaging. And though the virus is unlikely to be on food, even if you did consume it, there are few virus receptors in the digestive tract, meaning you most likely would not contract it this way, according to the CDC’s Dr. Ian Williams. 

Of course, it’s important to take proper precautions. You can use gloves when handling food packaging, take food out of the external packaging before entering the house, and wash your hands thoroughly and sanitize nearby surfaces. 

If you feel more comfortable waiting to eat out, buying gift cards to your favorite restaurants is another way to support them — and give yourself and your family something to look forward to!

How We’re #InThisTogether: To Inspire Others

I want to hear your stories about giving back, whether to individuals, small businesses or international organizations — or how other people have helped you? What are the creative ways you or others have expressed appreciation for health care workers, or helped vulnerable communities? How have you been inspiring positivity and action, or been inspired by others? 

Share how you’ve been making a difference on Instagram with #InThisTogether and @pinckneycookie, on Facebook at Pinckney Cookie Cafe or by emailing us at