Local non-profit emphasizing kindness as RI battles virus

Angel in Action delivered food from Meal Works to staff in the emergency room and intensive care unit at Kent County Hospital last Sunday.

WEST WARWICK — Now more than ever, a little bit of kindness can go a long way.  

“Random acts of kindness are so important right now,” Debra Shipley Roffo, founder of Angel in Action RI, said Monday. “There are a lot of people who really need them.”

Roffo founded her West Warwick-based nonprofit in 2017 with the goal of using random acts of kindness to pay homage to her mom’s legacy of helping those in need. And these days, with so much fear and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Roffo is doing what she can to spread a little cheer.

Working with Meal Works in Coventry, Angel in Action last Sunday supplied lunch to the staff of the emergency room and intensive care unit (ICU) at Kent County Hospital. Aluminum trays filled with chicken marsala, chicken fingers, soup and pasta were delivered to the hospital to feed some 30 healthcare workers serving on the front line. 

“We want to do a lot for the workers who are risking their lives every day to take care of our loved ones,” Roffo said, lauding Meal Works owner Jason Jacques for his willingness to help out. 

Then on Friday, Angel in Action teamed up with Texas Roadhouse in North Smithfield to feed a variety of burgers, salads and sandwiches to all 60 emergency room and ICU staff members working at Miriam Hospital that day.

In addition to delivering meals to hospital workers, Roffo over the weekend organized a drive-by Easter Bunny visit. 

Roffo had initially planned to host an event for children to have their photos taken with the Easter Bunny, but had to cancel it.  

Dressed in a bunny costume, Brian Levasseur stood Sunday outside Angel’s Closet, six feet from the curb, waving to children in their families’ cars as they slowly passed by. Wearing gloves and a face mask, Roffo handed each child a goodie bag stuffed with candy and a toy.

“You should have seen the kids’ faces — they were waving to the Easter Bunny and they were so happy,” Roffo said, adding that nobody was to get out of the car. “I handed the bags into the car very carefully, and none of us touched hands. We took so many precautions.”

Roffo ended up giving out all 60 of the goodie bags she’d made.

“It was such a fun day,” she said. 

A lot of the funding for Roffo’s organization comes from sales at Angel’s Closet, her nonprofit clothing shop on Main Street in West Warwick. The money she makes there goes mostly to paying overhead expenses, and whatever is left helps fund Angel in Action’s random acts of kindness. 

Since Angel’s Closet is currently closed, however, Roffo is relying more than ever on the generosity of others to help ensure she’s able to continue spreading kindness throughout the pandemic. 

“With the random acts of kindness, I always ask the public if they want to pitch in,” she said. “That’s how we operate, so if people don’t chip in, we can only do so much.”

Roffo added that she plans to work with Meal Works again soon to feed the staff at Rhode Island Hospital. 

“These people have families they have to go home to, so I really give them props,” Roffo said of the hospital workers. “They’re our heroes.”

Those interested in contributing to future acts of kindness, including feeding the Rhode Island Hospital staff, should follow the Angel in Action RI Facebook page. Before practicing a random act, Roffo said she’ll share a post inviting contributions by anyone looking to help out. 

kgravelle@ricentral.com

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