Editor’s note: The Daily Item will recognize people who have Made a Difference in the Valley in 2020 this week. This is the third part of a series that will continue until New Year’s Day.
LEWISBURG — At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, Ellen Herman left notes at her North Second Street neighbors' homes offering to run errands for them.
The simple gesture during the statewide lockdown kept residents from feeling isolated, said neighbor Elena Machado.
"She connected people," Machado said. "I got to know Susan (Cox). She lives across the street but I'd never talked to her before."
Herman said several people, including the retired Cox and Machado, who is a cancer survivor and mother of two young children, accepted her offer to grocery shop and do other tasks so they could avoid putting themselves at risk.
"I ended up shopping a lot," said the Bucknell professor who also helped stock the university's food pantry.
Herman downplayed her role and said several others in the community chipped in to help neighbors.
"It wasn't just me," she said. "It felt like everyone was checking on each other."
Cox said Herman deserves the praise for jumping in immediately when the pandemic forced many residents to stay home.
"She wasted no time putting notes on people's doors on the very first day," said Cox who along with her husband, Ed, had fresh vegetables and other food delivered regularly by Herman. "It was a pretty long event when she went shopping."
Although Herman and Cox have been neighbors for about four years they had never done much more than wave at one another.
"Now we talk pretty frequently," Cox said.
Machado said Herman's thoughtfulness has had a significant impact on her family, who moved to Lewisburg from Florida five years ago.
"I still have some health issues and two weeks ago I had to go to the ER. Susan took me," she said, referring to her new friend. "Because of Ellen we've met people we wouldn't otherwise have met."