Memphis kindness blog, March 25: Elwood’s Shack delivers food to health workers

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 30, 2020 10:46 AM CT | Published: March 25, 2020 4:00 AM CT

Editor’s note: As we navigate through this difficult time of dealing with the coronavirus, it is important to capture those instances where Memphians are coming together for each other. Those acts of kindness, generous moments and just feel-good instances happening all around us. Our reporters will be out looking for these. We also want to hear from you. If you have a nomination for our Memphis Kindness blog, email us at Thank you for reading.  — Ronnie Ramos, executive editor

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March 25, 2020

Today’s hero?

12:23 PM CT, March 25

Amy Ryder, a grocery store manager in Olive Branch — she didn’t think she was authorized to give the name of the grocery — says most customers have been really nice during the crisis.

But that’s not what makes her a hero. As a grocery store manager, you’d think Ryder would have access to all the good stuff, right? Including toilet paper?

Well, no. Or, at least, she chooses not to use that access, so there is more for the customers. Even though she has three teenage boys at home and she ran out of toilet paper not long ago.

“They were using paper napkins for three days before they begged me to find some because, in their words, `These are pretty rough,’” Ryder said. “I finally found a roll in my camping tote in the garage later that night.”

So here’s to you, Amy Ryder, for demonstrating that sacrifice comes in all forms.


Memphians join The Sofa Singers

11:57 AM CT, March 25

Watch closely when you click on the link: In the upper left corner, you’ll get a quick glimpse of local restaurateur Ben Brock and his wife Beth on Tuesday’s “Today Show” on NBC.

A little later in the video they’re back, singing “Lean on Me” with The Sofa Singers, an online community of people who sign on and sing uplifting songs. Click here to watch it.

The group was founded by James Sills, who was inspired by Italians who came out on their balconies to sing together after the country was put on lockdown.

“We found out about it through BBC,” Ben Brock said. “Beth was watching something, it came on and said it was time, so she dialed in and was one of the 500 that got in. During it, James Sills said NBC might be reaching out, so if you have a video, let them know.

“I was videotaping it for our family — everyone is locked up and we thought they’d like to see it. So someone called us and we said sure, they’d could use it. We’re doing it again tomorrow, too. It’s a lot of fun.”

Shout out to Beth Brock for repping: Her shirt is emblazoned with Memphis, Tenn.

The next singalong is Friday, March 27. Be ready early: It’s at 11 a.m. GMT, which is 6 a.m. Memphis time. Click here if you’d like to join in.


March 24, 2020

Elwood’s Shack feeds the hardworking folks in health care

7:12 PM CT, March 24

Last year didn’t end on a good note for Tim Bednarski, who had to close Elwood’s Shells in December.

His original restaurant, Elwood’s Shack, was faring OK during the COVID-19 days, but when dining rooms were shut down by the city on Thursday, he regrouped.

He didn’t want to lay off any employees. He wanted to keep curbside and take-out going, but mostly cut out delivery.

And he wanted to help people in need, people he thinks are being overlooked.

“I have dozens and dozens of friends in the healthcare industry,” he said. “I’m seeing them overworked already and this is just the beginning. I don’t think people are respecting them like they should and I wanted to do something for them.”

So he started delivering food. Jambalaya, red beans and rice, turkey, bacon and avocado wraps, chicken and dumplings--good stuff.

“I’m making 300 meals a day and I’m trying to get that up to 600,” he said.

On Monday, he delivered lunch to the ER at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis and people were so grateful he did it again for dinner.

On Tuesday, he went to St. Francis Hospital-Bartlett.

Now he has a schedule booked through Sunday.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, the labs one day and critical care the next. Germantown Methodist. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

He plans to start it all again next week.

“For a $250 donation, I can make 150 meals,” he said. “I’ve never asked anybody for a penny in my life, but if they want to donate now, I’m glad to take it.”

Breakfast for the emergency room staff arrived at St. Francis arrived at about 8 a.m. Tuesday: Healthy fruit, chocolate chip cookies and breakfast sandwiches.

“You’d be amazed at what biscuits, eggs and bacon do for people who are working so hard,” said Valerie Burrow, hospital spokeswoman. “The healthcare workers are working so hard, they’re on the front lines and this local restaurant is there trying to boost them up and that’s kind of what we need right now, for our spirits to stay up.”

The ER staff was “thrilled,” Burrow said.

Later on Tuesday, dinner was served to the evening shift, she said.

“One of the nurses cried last night when I went to Baptist,” Bednarski said. “They’re working hard, the cafeterias are cutting back hours, the grocery stores are closing early and opening late so they can’t go when they get off work.”

He put out a call for donations on social media. But he didn’t ask people to donate to him. He asked for pharmaceutical reps and businesses to call a local restaurant and donate meals for healthcare workers — he even put the phone numbers in for Huey’s, Soul Fish, Sweet Grass, The Second Line and others.

He hopes everyone benefits, especially the healthcare workers that are only going to get busier.

“It’s not like people can just show up with food and stuff and take it to the ER. I’ve got everything individually wrapped and packaged, they’re taking my temperature before I can go in. I sanitize the truck before I go and when I leave—I’ve actually hired a new employee and all he does is sanitize everything we touch,” Bednarski said. “So this is a way for everyone to help. I’ve never done anything like this, where people are so appreciative and so happy to see me coming.”


A song for everyone while you are “Safe at Home”

12:17 PM CT, March 24

Ted Horrell, spends his day as superintendent as the Lakeland School System, a job – like every school across the Shelby County – means working at home with no classes held indefinitely.

But by night, Horrell spends time as a musician as leader of a local group called the Monday Night Card. 

Stuck inside of Lakeland with the coronavirus blues again, Horrell spent some time writing a song about the plight of the nation encouraged to stay home and a suggestion on what to do.

Horrell said on his Facebook page that he is “sharing it now, which is unusual for me. It’s my contribution to the burgeoning quarantine genre called Safe at Home.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we present songwriter Ted Horrell. Click here (this is worth your four minutes):




Making it through with the help of the Hulk

11:36 AM CT, March 24




coronavirus COVID-19

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