They say it takes a village to raise a child. In today’s world it seems that that village is more likely to be found online.
One Massachusetts mom is feeling grateful after those within and beyond the local community helped her search for something special during the coronavirus pandemic. It wasn’t toilet paper, or disinfectant wipes, or even hand sanitizer. Crystal MacDonald was stocking up on SpaghettiOs.
Crystal’s daughter, Ashlyn, is autistic and is mostly nonverbal. Anyone with an Autistic child will tell you that for them, routine is key. And the pandemic upended Ashlyn’s routine in a big way. And according to Crystal, the 11-year-old has only wanted to eat SpaghettiOs with meatballs since
“Before the pandemic, she would eat a few other types of foods like cheese pizza, yogurt and grilled cheese. Food is a very sensory experience for her and I believe that most foods are too much, texture and taste-wise, for her,” MacDonald told TODAY Food. “Once she lost her routine of school, and like so many people with autism, routine is vital to their mental health, she stopped eating other foods. I think the predictability of the texture and taste of the SpaghettiOs brings a sense of control and comfort to her in this time of chaos.”
When supply of the canned pasta ran out at the local supermarket, the mom of five went looking at stores across the area – “calling or visiting up to 20 per day” in search of the product, Today said. In addition to searching daily, MacDonald tried other variations like SpaghettiOs with Franks or similar items by Chef Boyardee, but nothing worked.
MacDonald eventually took her search to social media, and local newspaper The Sun Chronicle featured her in an August piece about food shortages during the pandemic.
From there, the mother’s mission was met with an outpouring of support. The family has received over 100 cans of the must-have pasta to date, with even more on the way.
“It has been an incredible experience to feel so much love from our community,” MacDonald told TODAY. “As a parent of a special needs child, it can be a lonely existence and one that you imagine others to not quite understand. Especially in these times of such turmoil and hardship, it has been incredible to experience such kindness.”
Campbell’s Soup Company had not heard of the MacDonald family’s story, until Today reached out to them. “SpaghettiOs was glad to see that the MacDonald family received so much support from friends and neighbors to locate Ashlyn’s favorite meal,” company spokesperson Lisa Zahn said. “We’d like to make it a little easier for them and plan to send the MacDonald’s a year’s supply of SpaghettiOs and Meatballs.”
This might be one of the rare occasions where your Good News Story of the Day made the whole situation better. You can find it in full here.
“That is such an incredible gift for my daughter and for us,” Crystal said on learning of Campbell’s gift. “This will bring so much joy and relieve so much stress. This is an amazing blessing and I can’t express my gratitude enough. I don’t have enough words.”
A community came together, including a major business, to support one child who was struggling during a difficult time. Its something we are quite capable of doing when we remember that we are supposed to love each other, always.
Story and Image from Today.