Generosity in the face of coronavirus: An open call

​                 Overview


In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Social Entrepreneurship to Spur Health (SESH) organized an open call for stories of generosity in the face of coronavirus. The open call was started for two reasons – to help curate and shine a light on the small acts of kindness that have not been recognized; and to provide clearer information on formal ways that organizations are helping people during this time. 

Over a four week period, we received 25 submissions from six countries. Each submission was evaluated by at least three independent judges. Five stories receiving a final score of 8/10 or higher are included below.

Guidelines and other details on the call for entries were published on the SESH website.



Across borders and language barriers: U.S. ESL teachers receive protective masks from Chinese students

“My husband is a fire medic. Everyday his chances of catching covid increases. My regular student who I met in China, sent us these with this note.”

Like Kristy, many English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) teachers who taught Chinese students online have received heart-warming packages from China during the coronavirus pandemic. The image shows only one of those stories.


“I have parents checking in on my family on a daily basis. I have pictures of people waiting in line for hours to ship packages to the U.S. “, Kristy wrote. She was surprised by the numerous good wishes, concerns and love from her students although she has never met them in person.

Bistro owner in San Francisco started a donation table that grew

Tai, the sweet owner of Art Bistro in San Francisco started a small donation table outside for her neighbors in need and has seen it grow thanks to people who’ve dropped off extra items.


“We hope these little things can lift up people’s spirits at this difficult time”, Tai said.

Volunteer drivers in Wuhan drove medical workers to work during COVID-19 shutdown

“I cried aloud twice this winter, once for the extreme shortage of medical supplies, the other time for the doctors, nurses and patients who have left us forever.”


After public transportations all shut down in Wuhan, Huang and others decided to become volunteer drivers to keep the city running. For 65 days, Huang and other volunteers were out driving frontline medical staff to and from work, delivering donations to hospitals, and helping people shop for necessities.


“I didn’t go to any send-offs when the medical teams were leaving Wuhan because I was afraid that I will burst into tears again”, Huang said, “but I will forever remember those who gave a hand when this city was in need.”


Now that public transportations in Wuhan has reopened, Huang said he would still be available to offer lifts to medical workers if there's need.

“I would like to tell my friends at the fleet, let’s keep in touch, and do something small but meaningful together again in the future.” Huang said.

Neighbors helping each other in need in Birmingham, UK

I had this feeling of togetherness and connectedness even though we can’t physically see each other.”


Amidst the anxiety and worries during the past weeks, Audrey experienced a moment of deep appreciation and peace when she saw candlelights lit up in her neighborhood from her window.

The neighbors have agreed to each light up a candle at the window at 7pm that day to pray for safety and peace together.


A few days ago, Audrey received a note on the door from her neighbor Lucy. Lucy has started a neighborhood help group for elderly and those who are quarantined at home. Almost 40 families in the neighborhood joined instantly. The neighbors have helped a mother of a newborn to find diapers when diapers are sold out everywhere. They have also offered regular company to elderly.


Just as Audrey was watching the candlelights, her neighbor Karen sent some good news in the chat group: her granddaughter was just born in the hospital safely.

This online platform helps frontline medical staff get groceries during COVID-19

A group of innovators based in Toronto, ON have created an initiative to help support frontline health care workers and empower citizens who are eager to step up and support. GroceryHero is an online platform that matches healthcare workers who are in need of help with groceries with volunteer shoppers based on their postal code.

                  Organized by

SESH Global

SESH (Social Entrepreneurship to Spur Health) Global is a partnership between universities focused on using crowdsourcing methods to improve health. SESH was founded in 2012 and has organized over 70 crowdsourcing challenge contests. SESH is part of the TDR Social Innovation in Health Initiative.