‘Solidarity baskets’ provide food for the homeless in Naples during the quarantine

Currently, Italy is facing mounting economic damage due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Their government has enforced the most drastic restrictions compared to the other European countries struggling with COVID-19. Restaurants, schools, museums, sports centers, and all retailers apart from pharmacies and food shops have been closed across the whole country. This may lead to incredibly bad crisis scenarios.

However, some Italians are still hopeful while doing their best to help others in need. Many people’s lives are going to be hurt by the ongoing economical catastrophe. Therefore, acts of charity are now more important than ever.

Usually, Naples’ streets are quite lively, full of tourists and locals. Sadly, due to the self-isolation, the city is now turned into a ghost town.

The street musicians Pina Andelora and her partner Angelo Picone often perform traditional Neapolitan songs in the heart of Naples, Spaccanapoli. Currently, along with everyone else, they can’t do what they love the most, and they are forced to stay home.

However, the two street performers realized they can still be useful to society in their roles as community activists.

As the city’s soup kitchens are closed, they decided the two of them could prepare meals for the homeless. Picone shares with NPR:

“We realized there’s the issue of safety and social distance, so we relied on an old Neapolitan custom — lowering food baskets from our balcony.”

Centuries ago, mothers have lowered ropes attached to baskets with money or goods inside while being too busy looking after their children and the housework. The couple decided to use this approach for their wonderful idea.

They started making ‘solidary baskets’ for the ones in need.

Image credits: Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty

Pina and Angelo were inspired by the doctor Guiseppe Moscati who lived in Naples a century ago. Moscati selflessly cared for the less fortunate for free and was declared a saint in 1987. Following his example, the couple put a card on their baskets with Moscati’s slogan:

“Those who can, put something in, those who can’t, help yourself.”

Their powerful message has provoked a blast of solidarity. Angelo points out:

“People out shopping for groceries now stop by our baskets and leave something inside, pasta, sugar, coffee and cans of tuna. We put together food packages for our homeless friends.”

The solidarity baskets are proof for people’s kindness and generosity even in the hard times we live in. It is similar to the tradition of “suspended coffee”, in which customers pay in advance for coffee for others who can’t afford it. Suchlike practices are done with the sole cause to help the less fortunate, and gratitude is never expected.

The Italian media is now filled with photographs and videos of homeless people retrieving packages from the solidarity baskets.

Pina and Angelo have also received help from gar away. A cheese producer in Emilia Romagna contacted them and offered them a shipment of Parmesan cheese. Hopefully, their charitable initiative will inspire many others to do the same. Picone believes the economic crash will last. He says:

“This crisis will be long. Artists like us have to pay rent and bills, and many people depend on our assistance. We’re street performers who lived on tourism.”

The benevolent couple is wondering when the city will be the lively, buzzing place they know and love. They can’t wait for the moment when they will once again entertain people with the beautiful songs of Naples. But they are happy that until this time comes, they can help look after the ones in need.

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