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University of Iowa lecturer’s act of Thanksgiving kindness becomes a viral sensation

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 11:11 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) -“It may seem a bit silly, an English person making a traditional thanksgiving,” said Liz Pearce, a native of England and University of Iowa Lecturer. But she just wanted to make sure college kids knew someone cared.

Now, literally overnight, she’s become a viral sensation after sending an email to students offering a homecooked meal and compassion to those who might have to spend Thanksgiving alone or away from family because of the pandemic.

“I sent our a message to the students saying I know it’s been a hard semester and some students, I heard, couldn’t go home and I didn’t want anyone to feel sad or lonely on Thanksgiving,” said Pearce.

That email offer took off on Twitter. Pearce doesn’t use the platform, but her students do.

“I thought it was so cute I sent it to my friend group, she’s so wholesome,” said Leah Blask, a student of Pearce’s who originally tweeted the email.

Blask’s roughly 1,000 followers have shared it, commented on it and spread it to more than half a million people.

“So many people who read it said it brought a tear to their eye and it made me realize just how vulnerable maybe as a nation we are right now,” said Pearce.

“At the University of Iowa we have people who are in quarantine and isolation in their dorms and apartments,” said Blask.

A reality Professor Pearce understands. Not only does she have a student in the hospital, and three more who lost loved ones to the virus, of her own four children, but only three will be part of her Thanksgiving dinner. Her son in the Quad Cities has COVID and will have to spend the holiday alone this year.

Blask remembers when she had to isolate because of a positive COVID test, too.

“That feeling of being alone, in my apartment, my roommates I was there by myself,” said Blask.

“There’s a lot of students who’ve been sick and I think that’s been really hard to listen to their stories, and especially when they’re sick they’re usually contracting me, saying ‘please will you accept my work late’ and ‘I understand if it’s for half credit,’” said Pearce. “And I’m just like ‘Oh my gosh, that should be the last of your worry, the deadlines are flexible. Full credit whenever you feel well enough to turn it in.’ The main thing is to get well.”

Three students have already taken Pearce up on the offer of a delivered Thanksgiving meal. Hundreds more have offered to help. But she wants to keep the intent of the original offer: her family making food for any students who needs it.

“To bring that plate to your table or your porch and make that effort to connect with you even though they can’t hold your hand and be with you,” said Blask.

“My act wasn’t a huge act or anything and yet it solicited an incredible response and made me realize maybe we’re not used to kindness anymore,” said Pearce.

“That’s why I think Professor Pearce’s tweet resonated with so many people because of that little glimmer of hope and humanity in people,” said Blask.

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