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Another view of Ferguson -- kindness, generosity, compassion

By Ashley Fantz, CNN
updated 11:13 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Mike Knox has been staying at his barbershop until 4 a.m during the Ferguson protests to ward off looters.
Mike Knox has been staying at his barbershop until 4 a.m during the Ferguson protests to ward off looters.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Volunteers are giving out free food and water
  • People are standing in front of businesses trying to protect against looters
  • Some have hit the streets to clean and restore some semblance of order

Have you documented the protests in Ferguson? Share your photos, videos and opinions with CNN iReport. For local coverage of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown and its aftermath, go to CNN affiliates KMOV, KSDK, KTVI and KPLR.

(CNN) -- Day after day, most of the images and stories from Ferguson, Missouri, have been depressing. The quiet Midwest suburb appears to have devolved into a place where armored vehicles patrol streets, people can't stop fighting, arrests are commonplace and tear gas pollutes the air.

But there is actually good happening in Ferguson, some extraordinary acts of kindness and generosity from people trying hard to hold their city together.

Jameila White, who lives in St. Louis County, walked a mile to give free water to protesters.

"We pooled together as a community to bring this," she said. "So, we can stay energized and keep walking because they're saying if we stand still we're going to get locked up."

When people were hit with tear gas Tuesday, she was there to help. She replaced the water in her bottles with milk to help wash the gas from people's eyes.

Instructions popped up on Twitter on how to help people who had been tear gassed.

Since the violence began, the Canfield Green apartments have been tough to get into and out of. Michael Brown was shot nearby and many of the clashes have happened near that spot, so law enforcement has sometimes blocked the main entrance road. That's left residents, including those with babies and young children, without food and other necessities, but volunteers have come by and dropped off free groceries.

Volunteers also grilled hundreds of hot dogs and gave them away to anyone who wanted them, including law enforcement.

Dominoes handed out free pizza to demonstrators.

There were others who offered rides to people who, because of the chaos at night, were either unable to get back to their cars or find a way to get home. One man who received a ride tweeted the woman who helped him to say thanks.

Though there was disheartening destruction in Ferguson as many looted, some people bravely stood firm outside shops acting as guards to protect the stores.

Some in the crowd of protesters locked arms in solidarity in order to block those who wanted to cause havoc.

People opened their homes to strangers to offer them a safe place to be for a moment, or for food or just conversation.

Some community leaders tirelessly tried to talk down angry residents, telling them that clashing with police was not the answer.

And in the light of day, volunteers came out to clean the streets.

Auto mechanic Gary Park lives near the spot where Brown was killed by a Ferguson police officer August 9.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch talked to Park as he and others tried to clean up the streets that, days later, looters had ravaged.

"I needed to come out today just to get some stability," the 34-year-old said. "I wanted some encouragement."

Park belongs to the Passage Community Church in Florissant, Missouri, the newspaper said, which worked with other local congregations to pick up trash and pieces of destroyed property.

While they tried to restore some appearance of order and normality, teachers in Ferguson tried to do the same. Classes have been canceled in the town since the violence began. Schools are scheduled to open August 25.

Joined by volunteers, several teachers stood outside the Ferguson Public Library and waved signs this week that read "Teachers Here to Teach" and "Students Welcome," the St. Louis Riverfront Times reported.

Children were learning science and math at different tables while others drew. One child, the paper reported, made a poster that read: "Stop the violence. Let kids go back to school."

Magazine: The aftermath in Ferguson

Read more about the flash point in the Heartland at CNN.com/US

CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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