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Heroes of the Pandemic: Eli Timma

Life is full of lessons, many of which are learned at a young age. Delivering the local newspaper twice a week has certainly taught 14-year-old Eli Timma a lot, and delivering those papers in the age of COVID-19 has supplied some exceptionally important lessons.

Timma lives right in the center of the Town of Farmville and enjoys playing video games and participating in sports such as baseball and basketball. One of his favorite activities includes being a part of the Farmville Area Boy Scouts Troop 6516, where he developed an interest in competitive target shooting.

Timma is homeschooled. He’s in the eighth grade, and his favorite subject is writing.

Being homeschooled means Timma has not had to experience too many changes in his academic life since Governor Northam closed all K-12 Virginia schools in March, but he’s seen the impact of the pandemic in other ways, particularly as a “paper boy,” as he refers to himself, for The Farmville Herald.

According to Timma, two years ago he expressed interest to his mom in being able to earn his own money. After deciding he wanted to find a job, Timma started delivering the twice-weekly newspaper, and has done so ever since.

“Normally I’ll come in around 1-1:30 p.m. (on Tuesdays and Thursdays) and I’ll finish rolling the papers by 1:45 or 2 p.m. My mom will help drive me around town and I’ll walk the other half of the route,” Timma explained.

Timma has three routes across Farmville, delivering to most Main Street businesses, Longwood buildings, and residences across the town. He also delivers the paper to Town Hall.

The pandemic has made Timma very conscious about both his health and the health of those he delivers to, especially his older customers. Timma wears a mask during his work hours and disinfects his hands between every single delivery.

Businesses have been quick to acclimate to his new routine. Although Timma normally walks into many of the buildings to personally deliver the paper, he maintains his distance and now usually hands the paper over through a crack in the door. Timma used to deliver the paper to the individual Longwood buildings but now delivers them wrapped in plastic to a centralized location to avoid making trips across the campus.

Timma has also altered his protocol from coming home after delivering the paper. At the end of each shift he disinfects items like his shoes. Items that were on Timma during his routes don’t come back inside the house.

Having a job at 14 means Timma experiences different concerns than other kids his age. He was initially worried when the pandemic occurred that the effects of the crisis would affect his job and ability to save money, a thought prevalent in many adults but not many kids.

The worry gives Timma some perspective on what troubles the adults around him are facing. Timma’s mom, Diane, said the family always seeks to have open discussions regarding the virus at home.

“We have a few elderly neighbors on Eli’s route, and it’s given us a chance to just check in and see what they need and minimize their trips to the store,” she added.

Timma’s life has changed in other ways, as well. His extracurricular activities are no longer meeting, including sports and the Boy Scouts. However, his family focuses on finding other creative outlets to maintain energy levels.

As of lately, Timma is spending his days doing his schoolwork and playing around his yard with his brother and two cats. Family game time has increased, as have walks and secluded sports activities with his family.

However, Timma said he can’t wait to go back to Boy Scouts and continue having fun playing sports with his friends.

“I’m extremely proud of him,” Diane said. “I think he handles things very practically, and I think he’s very thoughtful and conscious. He’s never hesitant to ask questions and try to figure something out.”