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Female Gondola Rowers in Venice Deliver Groceries to Elderly During Coronavirus Lockdown

In the face of the coronavirus crisis, the non-profit Row Venice, which describes itself as a group of "passionate women and expert vogatrici," said that "we were more than happy to volunteer our boats and crews to lend a hand."

An all-female group of gondola rowers in Venice, Italy has been providing grocery deliveries for vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis! Row Venice, a group of "passionate women and expert vogatrici" — the Italian word for rowers — is dedicated to preserving the traditional Venetian style of rowing. After Italy announced a lockdown in March, the nonprofit organization decided to deliver groceries to elderly and immunocompromised people to help meet the huge increase in demand for such services. As the group wrote in a Facebook post, "We were more than happy to volunteer our boats and crews to lend a hand."

Italy has been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19, with over 204,000 confirmed cases — 2,400 of which have been in Venice — and over 27,000 deaths. A tight lockdown was established to try to halt the virus' spread, but that left many vulnerable people who could not shop for themselves struggling to get supplies so Row Venice quickly donned masks and gloves and started making deliveries to those in need. They have even been partnering with local farmers to help these small businesses stay afloat in difficult times while providing homebound people with fresh produce.

"We found that an ever increasing number of home-bound Venetians were placing orders to small, mainland organic produce companies," the group explained. "We decided to volunteer our boats and vogatrici to help deliver these orders by oar directly to residences around the city — precisely the kind of work our traditional batele [boats] once performed before motor craft replaced them... We hope this is a reminder to every one of the alternatives Venice has for transportation of both goods (and people!), even after this crisis has passed."

In ordinary times, Row Venice runs boat tours of the city and rowing lessons for tourists, teaching the style of rowing made famous by the city's gondoliers. As they write on their website: "We are dedicated to the preservation of the traditional Venetian cultura acquea and at its center, the voga alla veneta, the Venetian style of rowing: standing up, facing forward, native to Venice." They also promote rowing for its low environmental impact in a small city that's often overwhelmed by tourists; a benefit they have observed firsthand during this crisis.

"With time seemingly suspended for most of us, we’re witnessing a Venezia more spectacular and tranquil than we have ever known it," the group reflected. "It also seems like the opportune moment to try and sustain this Venice, and to extend the definition of consumer quality throughout whole supply chain with a zero impact, completely environmentally-friendly service — one particularly welcome in this fragile lagoon."

Mighty Girl Books About Community Service and Helping Those in Need

Plant a Kiss

Plant a Kiss

Written by: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by: Peter H. Reynolds
Recommended Age: 3 - 8

Beloved author Amy Krouse Rosenthal takes the phrase “to plant a kiss” and makes it literal when the Little Miss of this book plants a real kiss in the ground. After tending it carefully — lots of sunshine and water — a glittering sprout grows. Now Little Miss is going to share the kiss she planted with the whole wide world! This beautiful conceptual book about kindness, generosity, and love is a reminder that simple gestures can grow far beyond the giver — and that anyone can be the one to start something that leads to “eternal bliss.”

Gabriella's Song

Gabriella's Song

Written by: Candace Fleming
Illustrated by: Giselle Potter
Recommended Age: 3 - 8

Gabriella's home town of Venice is full of canals — and music! Flapping laundry on the line, jingling coins, chiming church bells... all of them inspire her to hum a little tune. The baker hears her tune, and it lifts his spirits; soon he's humming too. Everyone who hears it puts their own spin on it — for some it is happy, for others melancholy and sad — but each of them finds the melody speaks to them. And when her tune finally makes its way to the ears of a composer, it becomes the inspiration for a beautiful symphony! This charming story of how music touches our lives and hearts also introduces young readers to the sights and sounds of Venice.

Ernestine's Milky Way

Ernestine's Milky Way

Written by: Kerry Madden-Lunsford
Illustrated by: Emily Sutton
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

With Ernestine's Papa away fighting the war, and Mama expecting twins, carrying two mason jars full of milk to the neighbors falls to the her. And while Ernestine loves declaring to the Great Smoky Mountains, "I'm five years old and a big girl!"... the journey is a bit intimidating when she sets out! But every scary sound turns out to be a not-so-fearsome beast, and even when she accidentally drops one of the jars — sending it rolling down the mountain — Ernestine finds it again and discovers a treat inside: butter! This charming picture book full of can-do spirit also celebrates the joys of discovering your independence and helping others in need.

Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed

Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed

Written by: Emily Pearson
Illustrated by: Fumi Kosaka
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

The most amazing thing about kindness is how it ripples out beyond the original act! Mary finds a patch of blueberries on her way home, and decides to pick some for Mrs. Bishop. Mrs. Bishop in turn makes blueberry muffins that she gives to five people — one of whom helps five more, and then one of those helps five more... Before long, a variety of kindnesses, some with a small impact and some with a huge one, are creating a change that extends worldwide. It's a lovely testament to how little acts of compassion and kindness have big potential for the entire world.

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love

Written by: Michelle Edwards
Illustrated by: G. Brian Karas
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

Mrs. Goldman and Sophia make a great team: Mrs. Goldman knits hats for everyone in the neighborhood, and Sophie helps out by making the pom-poms. But then Sophia realizes that winter is here — and Mrs. Goldman doesn't have a hat herself! No matter how hard Sophia tries to knit a hat for her friend, she ends up with lumpy, uneven stitches and a hat full of holes. Fortunately, Sophia finds a creative solution so she can still return Mrs. Goldman's many kindnesses with one of her own. Kids will smile as Sophia dedicates herself to finding a way thank you to her beloved friend.

Boxes for Katje

Boxes for Katje

Written by: Candace Fleming
Illustrated by: Stacey Dressen-McQueen
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

Katje's Dutch town has been ravaged by World War II, and her family is struggling to get by with almost nothing. Then, one day, a box arrives from America: a little girl named Rosie has sent necessities like soap and socks, and even chocolate for a treat! Katje is so thrilled that she sends a letter of thanks, and soon both girls are sending exchanges full of surprises. What started as an act of generosity becomes an ongoing relationship that changes the lives of both girls — and the people in both their towns — for the better. Candace Fleming based this story on her mother's childhood, and the story of how simple acts of generosity can last a lifetime is sure to get kids thinking about what their own acts of kindness can do.

Maddi's Fridge

Maddi's Fridge

Written by: Lois Brandt
Illustrated by: Vin Vogel
Recommended Age: 4 - 9

Best friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood and attend the same school, but when Sofia looks for a snack in Maddi's fridge one day, she is shocked to discover that her friend Maddi spends many of her days hungry. Maddi makes Sofia promise not to tell, but it's hard for Sofia to enjoy all the good food on her own family's table when she knows Maddi's family has none. It turns out, sometimes the kindest thing to do is to break a promise. This book about food insecurity provides a model for empathetic and compassionate friendship with a person in need.

How To Make A Better World

For Every Kid Who Wants to Make a Difference

How To Make A Better World

For Every Kid Who Wants to Make a Difference

Written by: Keilly Swift
Recommended Age: 7 - 10

It's easier than you think to change the world! This fun and empowering guide teaches kids how they can take their passion for justice and put it into practice. The four chapters move from the individual, learning to practice self-kindness, to the community, to all of humanity, and to the planet we live on. Each chapter provides practical advice, examples of real kids who started service projects, and ideas for things you can do, from being a good friend to identifying fake news to going on a protest march. It's sure to inspire kids everywhere to take their first steps into activism!

Start Now! You Can Make a Difference

Start Now! You Can Make a Difference

Written by: Chelsea Clinton
Recommended Age: 7 - 11

Activism can sometimes seem overwhelming — but there are problems large and small that kids can tackle every day! In this book, Chelsea Clinton addresses five key concepts — health, hunger, climate change, endangered species, and bullying — and shows kids how to start solving them, either individually, locally, or globally. Each chapter ends with a "Start Now!" bullet list, providing suggestions for young would-be activists to take first steps towards big changes. Kids will particularly love the photographs of real kids, just like them, who have started leading the way for people around them.

Be A Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters

Be A Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters

Written by: Laurie Ann Thompson
Recommended Age: 12 and up

When a teen has an idea for a way to change the world, she may not know what to do to make it a reality. This book will guide her through it, step by step! Individual chapters cover everything from refining your idea to fundraising to creating a business plan, and even discuss what to do when you're ready to move on, whether you're closing down your project or handing it off to another person. Changing the world may not be easy, but with this book, she'll know where to start.

UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World

UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World

Written by: Dr. Michele Borba

Studies show that teens are 40% less empathetic today than they were thirty years ago – a trend that hurts both kids and society as a whole. In fact, self-focused behavior can hurt academic performance, lead to increases in bullying behavior, and reduce kids’ resilience when things go wrong. This thoughtful parenting book explores nine research-based habits to build kids’ empathy. From identifying and controlling their emotions to thinking about "us" not "them", these strategies can be used daily to encourage kids to see the world from the perspectives of other people around them, reducing rudeness and bullying and setting them up for a lifetime of positive relationships.

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