TDS is filled with great people. At times of crisis, this becomes even more apparent than it is on an average day (which is saying something!).

Despite social distancing, TDS employees are finding ways to give back in a variety of ways. Read a few stories for yourself and know there are plenty more where these came from!


Rob White, Bend, Oregon

Sometimes giving back doesn’t mean giving things, but giving of yourself to help brighten someone’s day during this stressful time. Rob and his family are doing this in spades.

In Bend, Oregon, lots of people are heading outside to celebrate the front-line healthcare workers every night at 8 p.m. Rob, along with his wife, daughter and his son, Dylan, have kicked it up a notch.

“We have been traveling to homes and Dylan plays trombone. We cycle through Superman, When The Saints Go Marching In, Indiana Jones, and the Star Spangled Banner,” says Rob.

If you’re picturing this is some amateur performance, think again. Dylan is going to Central Washington University in the fall on a music and academic scholarship. In fact, he even got his band “together” on Rob’s driveway for a special performance.

“While social distancing, my son’s band got together in front of our house and put on a concert for our neighbors earlier this week. We have to keep the neighbors engaged to get through this!” says Rob.

Rob says they’re just having fun, being loud, and supporting our healthcare workers. It’s certainly music to his neighbor’s ears.


Lyndsie D., Northern Colorado

TDS’ Lyndsie D. is sewing face masks to make sure everyone is safe from COVID-19. Lyndsie did some research and found an in instructional video on YouTube for making the Olson Face Mask, which includes an inside pocket for a filter.

For more than a month, Lyndsie has been busy making masks during the evenings and during lunch breaks. “I made 80 masks in two days,” she said. “I have an order now for 58 masks. I can’t keep up. The demand is huge.”

It takes her about 30 minutes to make each mask and so far she has made more than 700. She donates them to hospitals and nursing homes and charges nothing for her efforts.

Each mask costs her about $2 to create, but she’s happy to invest in her community because she knows the needs are great.


Jeff S., Madison, Wisconsin

Jeff has found a very unique way to help—he’s donating computer power to help unlock how the COVID-19 virus works.

“I’ve configured a couple of my home computers to participate in the Folding@Home project,” says Jeff. “This effort is a distributed computing project for performing simulations of protein dynamics.”

Proteins are key because, just like our own genetic code, they’re the building blocks of this virus. Folding@home has asked for help to run experimental simulations to understand COVID-19’s moving parts—information that can’t be captured any other way. But doing this requires a huge amount of computer processing power, so Jeff and others are lending a hand.

“Along with hundreds of thousands of other people around the world, we are donating computing capacity to help perform these simulations. The amount of capacity that has been brought online to help fight this disease has been tremendous,” says Jeff. “It’s been estimated that the project now has the computing resources of the top 100 supercomputers in the world combined.

This results of the project are being shared publicly for the greater good, if you’d like to take a peek.


Lisa J., Madison, Wisconsin

With two sisters who are nurses, Lisa grabbed her sewing machine and started making masks and surgical caps. One sister is at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, and the other is at Fairview Northland in Princeton, Minnesota. Both of these health systems are using homemade masks to extend the life of the hospital issued personal protective equipment.

She’s made 17 so far, but ran out of elastic and is still searching for more. In the meantime, she’s still flexing her creative muscles to help out her neighbors.

“For our community I have been painting rocks and putting them at the end of our driveway for people to pick up as a ‘pick me up’ while they are out walking,” says Lisa. “I love seeing people—from afar—stop in the evenings to take one.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak, she’s painted around 50 rocks.

When this author saw the photo of the rocks and commented on how lucky her neighbors were, she only said:

“Thanks!  It feels like I am the lucky one when people take them….gives you a happy feeling, sharing something you created.“


Sue G., Madison, Wisconsin

Sue jokes that while she has a sewing machine, she’s not a die-hard sewer—but that didn’t stop her from jumping into action to help her family.

Her daughter’s boyfriend is a certified nursing assistant at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. He strongly suspects he had coronavirus before the big surge, so volunteered to work on the floor where COVID patients are being treated.

“When he found out he was going to be on the COVID floor, he also found out they’re rationing N95 masks to two per week,” says Sue. “At that point, they were trying to extend the life of hospital issued masks, but now they’re giving homemade masks to families of those who work at the hospital and to people being discharged.”

He’s been working on this high-risk floor for about a week and a half so far. Sue’s daughter is also helping battle the coronavirus but in a whole different way: she works for Exact Sciences and will on a team processing test kits.

Sue has made between 80-100 masks so far, only pausing because she struggled to find elastic (which she ended up finding on Ebay). With a new supply coming shortly, Sue plans to get back at it.


Nichole S., Madison, Wisconsin

Happy Heart Hunt is a Facebook “movement” that started in Milton, Wisconsin. The creators of the page suggested people use hearts to decorate windows—or even your car, sidewalks, or businesses. The goal is to create something that others can enjoy when they’re out walking or driving around. A little reminder that we’re all alone together as we ride out this coronavirus pandemic.

Nichole, who recently moved to a new neighborhood, decided to join in the fun.

“Everybody is doing it, and I didn’t see any in my neighborhood so I thought I’d fill my window with hearts cut from brightly colored file folders we had,” says Nichole. “I added about 360 hearts in six colors of the rainbow—we didn’t have any indigo—and all were cut by hand. They fill one of our big front windows I have seen a few people on their daily walks go by and point it out, so I feel like it’s fulfilling its purpose of making people smile.”

In addition to this creative effort, Nicole also made a “stay safe care package” for their mail carrier. She included, “a couple face masks, some nitrile gloves, a gift certificate to a local restaurant, and a happy heart thanking her for delivering our mail.” And, so far, she’s made about 20 face masks that she will be donating locally.


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