Ed Ebersole, 100, crochets blankets for the Linus Project.

THE ISSUE: It’s Monday, the day we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County. Local stories of achievement, perseverance, compassion and creativity represent welcome points of light in a difficult time, and they deserve a brighter spotlight.

Last week — even as we observed the sorrowful one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic — there were many great and optimistic developments in our yearlong battle against COVID-19.

In short: The vital American Rescue Plan was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden; the president announced an acceleration of the nation’s vaccination campaign, directing states to make all adults eligible for vaccine appointments by May 1; Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf pledged that, “to the extent possible,” all state residents in Phase 1a will have their vaccines scheduled by the end of March; Lancaster County successfully launched a vaccination center that will administer thousands of vaccine doses at Park City Center; and local educators began receiving priority inoculations with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“It’s hope,” Lisa McNaul, a reading tutor at Lampeter Elementary School, told LNP | LancasterOnline.

Hope, indeed.

Even the weather was great last week.

To further bolster spirits, these are some of the local stories last week that put smiles on our faces.

— In the March 7 Sunday LNP | LancasterOnline, correspondent Gayle Johnson told the delightful story of Ed Ebersole, who lives in Homestead Village and, at age 100, has spent the past decade displaying an amazing work ethic: He crochets blankets.

“He’s about to finish his 50th blanket for Project Linus, a national charity that collects and donates newly made blankets,” Johnson reported. “He taught himself to crochet at age 90 and now creates feathery blankets for children who need warmth.”

We love Ebersole’s attitude about his hobby.

“I’m doing something and it’s benefiting someone,” he said. “I have a goal. It’s to make a baby happy.”

He is a role model for us all.

— LNP | LancasterOnline’s Mary Ellen Wright wrote in Friday’s edition about what a challenging year it’s been for the artists at the Friendship Heart Gallery in Lancaster. Their gallery is part of Friendship Community, “a faith-based program serving people with intellectual disabilities and autism,” Wright explained.

But the members and their instructors haven’t been able to gather in person because of COVID-19.

Nonetheless, the good news is that community members can support the artists and the program by bidding on their paintings in the annual auction, titled “Celebrate Every Talent.” It will take place from March 18-25; the website is (FriendshipArt.net/Bid).

“Everything we’re offering is a beautiful representation of what (the artists) can do and what they like to do,” said Becky Link, special events coordinator for the Friendship Community.

There are other ways to support the art gallery and its classes; you can, for example, purchase a chance to win a $400 gift basket.

It’s a program well worth supporting.

— Speaking of artwork, “Lancaster city will install a new public art display in 2021 thanks to a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies,” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Mike Andrelczyk reported Friday.

The nationwide initiative focuses on art and design projects that improve street safety and give public spaces a boost.

“The initiative aims to encourage collaboration between a city and its artists to develop aesthetically pleasing solutions to problematic transportation infrastructure areas such as plazas, intersections and sidewalks,” Andrelczyk explained.

Specifically, the $25,000 grant will be used for a mural at the five-way intersection of West Strawberry, South Mulberry and West Vine in the city’s Cabbage Hill neighborhood.

Sherwin-Williams is also providing support for the mural project.

These types of national grants are crucial to making Lancaster even more appealing — with local residents providing the vision.

“The support allows us to work directly with community members to create projects in their neighborhoods,” Joanna Davis, the city’s public art manager, stated in a news release. “An exciting part of this project is how it puts artists and neighbors together to solve design problems while working together with planners and engineers in our Department of Public Works.”

Lancaster Public Art has issued a call for artists or teams of artists in south-central Pennsylvania to submit their design proposals. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. March 22. Interested artists can submit proposals or get more information by emailing Yarlyn Rosario at yrosario@cityoflancasterpa.com.

We can’t wait to see what they come up with.

— Finally, hats off to the boys basketball team at La Academia, a Lancaster city charter school. The fledgling program won the District Three Class A championship Thursday, defeating Conestoga Christian in the title game.

The achievement was notable because, as LNP | LancasterOnline’s Mike Gross wrote, “La Academia has no nickname, no home court, no league and no sports history. ... La Academia has had a basketball program for only two years, and been a PIAA member for only one.”

The team is coached by Jerry Johnson, a former standout at J.P. McCaskey High School.

La Academia used a 17-0 run in the second half to take control of the game. It was a team effort, with seniors and sophomores among those playing key roles.

La Academia moves into this week’s state playoffs and will have an opportunity to keep making history. 

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