CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Anyone know which stores in Coral Springs have toilet paper or bottled water? Who needs help picking up groceries, prescription drugs or other vital supplies? And why are there suddenly more white plane trails in the sky over the city?
There were lots of answers to these pressing issues in recent days.
The responses didn’t come from City Hall or other authorities. Instead, they came from residents in an active Facebook Group called Coral Springs Neighbors and Friends.
With nearly 5,500 members, it’s the go-to place in the digital world to get answers – almost immediately – to everyday life issues related to Coral Springs.
And now, with fears that coronavirus effects could last deep into the summer months, the group has become a vital source of crowd-sharing information as well as a place to find community and comfort from the daily barrage of bad news.
That’s been the goal since the group started in 2016, said Sam Gray, the group’s founder.
“I want people to help one another and be kind to each other,” she said.
Run by Gray and two others, the group gets up to a dozen or so posts a day with people asking specific questions, commenting on topics, or offering tips and guidance.
The rules are simple: post only useful information, Gray said. Anything else – political, religious or business self-promoting – will be deleted. And one more thing: no demeaning or nasty comments. Break the rules, and you’re banned.
“There’s no room for anything that’s negative or just garbage,” she said.
The group is private/closed, and only those with a Coral Springs connection can be accepted. To keep the community feel, the group is open to those living, working or visiting the city regularly, Gray said.
As a group, members have helped other members find jobs, tutors, handymen, babysitters, assisted living facilities, and so on. During times of emergencies such as hurricanes and now the coronavirus crisis, many are inquiring about necessities – this week that included: Where is chicken available in Coral Springs? What movies are recommended for home watching while “hunkering down” for the virus?
In each case, dozens of people chimed in.
Concerning the chicken, one man wrote: “Was just at Costco. They had some but store was packed!”
And the best movies: there was a wide range, from Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, to Narcos Mexico on Netflix to Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Gray said she started the group when she moved to Coral Springs and looked for an online business network. There was hardly anything, she said. After creating the group, only a handful of members shared information. About a year later, people joined by the dozens. Today, membership is going up by 15-20 percent each month.
“I never expected this to take off like it did,” she said.
Not all questions have an answer. Or the right answer.
The man who posted a photo of plane trails across the sky was asking: “The amount of these in clusters feels suspect to me. Am I the only one?”
Others responded with their own photos. And one man who identified himself as a pilot said: “I am a pilot. Stop perpetuating ridiculous conspiracies.”
And so it went, with others offering more conspiracies and others debunking them. Gray and the other moderators let the digital conversations go on and on, as long as the interactions were polite and respectful.
“It’s people helping people – that’s what it’s all about,” she said.
Visit the Coral Springs Neighbors and Friends group on Facebook here.