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Nation & World

The Texas Runner Who Delivers Items To Those Quarantining At Home

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, some neighbors are stepping up. They're posting on social media asking, do you need help? What can I buy for you? In one neighborhood in Texas, one woman has taken to the streets. Audrey McGlinchy with member station KUT in Austin has her story.

AUDREY MCGLINCHY, BYLINE: On a recent morning at 6:30, CC Rowe was already up and running. The 43-year-old wears a neon tank top and a backpack. Rowe belongs to a Facebook group for her neighborhood in Austin. It's an exchange place of sorts. People post things to give away - a pair of Crocs, a tea kettle. Others ask for things they need - moving boxes, a storage bin.

Rowe's an avid runner, so a year ago, she decided to use her regular runs to move these exchanged items from neighbor to neighbor.

CC ROWE: I basically play on-foot courier. And I run from house to house picking up items from one house and dropping them off at another.

MCGLINCHY: Our route this morning is just over five miles. As the coronavirus has spread, the items she's dropping off have changed. At the first stop, Rowe delivers some bath bombs and stress balls, perfect for people stuck at home anxious about a pandemic. She notices a bag left on the porch for pickup. She slips on a blue surgical glove before touching it.

ROWE: There is no reason to not use a glove if you have one to just protect yourself and everybody else.

MCGLINCHY: Posts on her neighborhood Facebook group have looked like this lately - who's got hand sanitizer? School's canceled. Anyone want this paint set for their kids? Across Austin, people are helping neighbors who are elderly or ill.

At the three-mile mark, Rowe tells me about our next stop.

ROWE: We are picking up hand sanitizer. Somebody actually had a little left over.

MCGLINCHY: It's going to a woman a couple blocks away. She just had heart surgery. Neighbors are worried about her immune system during this pandemic. As we run, Rowe says times like these bring out the good in people. We experience that at the next house. The neighbor, Greta Kreidner, comes out to tell us she's got facemasks. Can we bring them to the woman who's just had surgery?

ROWE: Oh, that's fancy.

GRETA KREIDNER: Yeah, they the fancy kind. I spotted, like, two boxes at H-E-B on a weird (ph) corner spot.

ROWE: Here, you want to just shove them in there?

MCGLINCHY: Rowe puts the masks in her bag. Another mile, and we're at Jenny Lorraine's house. Lorraine is the woman recovering from surgery. Husband and two kids answer the door.

ROWE: Hey, kiddos. I got gifts from the neighborhood. I got some masks and...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Awesome. Thank you.

MCGLINCHY: Rowe blows kisses by, an acceptable sign-off during a pandemic. She runs the last quarter-mile home. Rowe takes off her backpack. It's lighter now. And then she, well...

ROWE: Happy birthday. Happy birthday. Happy birthday to you.

MCGLINCHY: ...She washes her hands for 20 seconds, the recommended length of time.

ROWE: All done.

MCGLINCHY: Rowe says she'll likely do another run tomorrow.

For NPR News, I'm Audrey McGlinchy in Austin, Texas.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.