Food banks held drive-thru distribution events, struggling restaurants gave free meals to the hungry and Pittsburghers stepped up to help their neighbors.By Kym Gable

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – What we witnessed in 2020 was certainly unprecedented, and we’re not just talking about the challenges and strife. We saw people come together to support each other and their communities in so many uplifting ways.

It started in the spring when sudden and unexpected needs were met with swift and meaningful action. Basic needs like food sparked the emergence of giveaways throughout the region.

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From Fayette County, where volunteers with the Community Action Food Bank distributed meals to families, to Lawrence County, where teams in New Castle covered over 100 zip codes, providing healthy fruits and vegetables through the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

And we can’t forget our furry friends. Pet food donations also piled up at places like the Washington Area Humane Society.

Community gardens like the one in Turtle Creek tapped into a harvest of possibilities, donating fresh produce. And the Clubhouse Garden in Squirrel Hill helped neighbors get to know each other a little better — a place for hope, healing and inclusion.

Churches became more than just places to worship. They organized drive-thrus and deliveries, making sure nursing homes and first responders were also taken care of.

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And how about those first responders? There was service beyond the badge at events like one in Westmorland County where police and state troopers spread Christmas joy to dozens of children with their annual Shop with a Cop.

So many restaurants, already struggling amid shutdowns, decided they would give back. Ma and Pops Country Kitchen in the South Hills is just one example, serving hundreds of Thanksgiving dinners for free.

Holidays and observances were different, but we still celebrated. Veterans Day at a Bridgeville retirement home was special thanks to young volunteers from Heroes Supporting Heroes.

Our seniors stepped up in many ways, like 90-year-old Jackie Stebler stitching up hundreds of masks and giving them away.

Non-profits forced to cancel their fundraisers and galas found new ways to be charitable. Some went virtual, like the Walk to End Alzheimers. Others took to the trails, like the Bethel Park girls volleyball team supporting the organization Pink Pamper, people still gathering safely to raise money, to find cures.

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It’s not about what 2020 did to us. It’s about how we persevered to help each other in 2020. This is you, Pittsburgh. We are grateful, and we are so very proud.