Alexandrea Fullerton is a seven-year-old girl from Warren who has been selling her toys to raise money for the local food pantry and hospital. Credit: Courtesy of Christina Fullerton

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The news in recent weeks has been bleak. The coronavirus has spread around the world and across the United States, killing more than 56,000 Americans, including 51 in Maine as of Tuesday.

To slow the spread of the illness, which is particularly dangerous to the oldest Americans but is also attributed to strokes in younger people who contract it, people in many and most other states have been ordered to stay home.

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

Schools and many businesses closed their doors and went online, leaving many struggling with social isolation and anxiety.

With many businesses shuttered and others seeing precipitous drops in demand for their goods and services, layoffs have skyrocketed, with more than 26 million Americans now out of work. Financial stress, for both employers and employees, has spiraled upward.

Still, there are countless stories that are uplifting, inspiring, and sometimes downright funny. It is these stories — and what they say about human character — that inspire us and brighten otherwise dark days.

BDN reporter Emily Burnham compiled many of these stories over the weekend. Reading them just might reduce your stress level and, perhaps, renew your faith in your community, state and world.

Earlier this month, for example, volunteers reinstalled a large star on the top of Mt. Battie in Camden. They hope the lighted star, which is typically only in place around Christmas, will serve as a beacon of hope during the pandemic.

In Warren, 7-year-old Alexandrea Fullerton wanted to help out local hospitals and food banks — so she sold her toys and gave the proceeds to Pen Bay Medical Center and the Warren Food Pantry.

“I just wanted to be nice,” she said. “[Hospitals] need money so they can buy masks and gloves so they’re safe.”

Wise words that should inspire us all.

Creativity has also been an important outlet in recent weeks. In Woolwich, artist Martha Miller has been recreating famous portraits, both painting and photographs, from her studio. She uses only clothing and items she has on hand for her “Quarantine Characters,” which have included Marilyn Monroe and Marsden Hartley.

Beyond Maine, and on a larger scale, “ concerts” by the Rolling Stones and others have brought joy and solace to millions of fans. One World: Together at Home brought together musical performers, comedians and others to raise funds for the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Response Fund, which has sent protective equipment and test kits to countries around the world.

Amateur musicians are also taking star turns on social media. There’s a whole genre of men playing the epic drum solo from Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” with kitchen cabinets, which are oddly captivating and humorous.

There are also formal efforts to bring more good news to Americans. The best known may be actor John Krasinski’s “ Some Good News” YouTube channel. He hosted a virtual high school prom, a potluck with Martha Stewart, chef Guy Fieri and others and connected with American astronauts, including Maine native Jessica Meir, on the International Space Station.

These and other efforts are appreciated, because good news doesn’t just make us smile, it has documented health benefits. Managing exposure to news about coronavirus and its economic consequences is part of a healthy routine during these stressful times.

In addition to keeping an eye out for good news and taking care of yourself, remember to help others to boost your mental health and ease stress. Reach out to older relatives and neighbors. And, seek out local nonprofits that need volunteers and donations.

Watch: The new way that Maine is classifying some COVID-19 cases

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...