Adjusting to the new norms, while living through an unprecedented pandemic, is challenging for all of us. However, if you and your loved ones have healthy bodies, shelter, and food in your pantry, the truth is that you’re much more fortunate than others during this time.
Being of service to others who are struggling right now can be a perfect antidote to the boredom or anxiety that you may be experiencing. Yes, the coronavirus global crisis is devastating, but it is also a perfect time to (metaphorically) extend our hand to others and give what we can. The idea of giving back might feel overwhelming, but we have tips to help you get started. We’ll get through this together, one act of kindness at a time.
Reach out and connect with others
During this time of social isolation, people everywhere are struggling with extreme loneliness. Being cut off from human contact and touch that we rely on daily can be detrimental for one’s mental and physical health. One easy way to give back during this time is to simply reach out to someone around you.
You can start by calling or writing to your family members and friends to ask how they are doing and let them know that you are thinking about them. If you have grandparents, reach out because they are likely feeling vulnerable at this time and, if they are in a nursing home or assisted living community, they are likely not allowed visitors at this time.
If you know someone who is facing especially difficult hardships, is physically vulnerable, or struggles with anxiety or depression, attempt to connect and listen to what they are going through. This is the perfect time to offer support, friendship, and kindness from the comfort of your home.
Feed those who are hungry
Whether it’s due to loss of wages or the inability to access school lunches, many are struggling to get proper meals right now. If you are able to, consider donating food or money to your local food bank. If you call, most will tell you what they are most in need of at the time.
According to No Kid Hungry, around 22 million children in the United States rely on the free or reduced-price lunch they receive at school. Due to school closures, these children are likely not able to access lunch or other meals that they typically rely on. Consider donating to this organization to get meals to school children. It’s also important to remember that this is not a time to hoard supplies. Doing so could make someone else go without or force an elderly or immunocompromised person to have to visit numerous stores, putting them at further risk of exposure.
Check in on your neighbors
One of the beautiful things that typically stems from disaster is a renewed sense of community. Take the time to check in on those who live around you, especially the elderly or those who are health-compromised. You can offer to pick up supplies while you're out, limiting their exposure, and do a safely-distanced drop-off to a porch or doorway.
Support small businesses
As restaurants and small businesses have been shuttered, their owners and employees have been pushed to their financial limits. Show your support by purchasing takeout (remember you can freeze meals), shopping for merchandise online, or buying gift cards to use at a later time. We do not know when businesses like restaurants and bars will be able to fully reopen, so your support during this time will make a huge difference.
Along with all events, blood drives across the country have been cancelled and the Red Cross is experiencing a dramatic drop in blood donations. If you’re able to give, Red Cross assures that they will keep you safe during the process through the highest standards of safety and infection control. You can schedule an appointment now to give at a location near you.
Foster or adopt a pet
Many animal rescue organizations are struggling during this time due to staff shortages and a reduction in donations. Since you’re likely working from home, consider fostering an animal in need. Few things are more calming than snuggling with a fluffy, warm creature during a difficult time, so contact your local animal rescue organization to see how you can help. If you’re unable to foster or adopt, consider a donation instead.
Pay your Employees
If you are financially able to do so, continue to pay service workers, like nannies, house cleaners, or dog walkers, even if you are not able to utilize their services right now. The people who provide you with these services on a regular basis have likely taken a drastic cut in income during the pandemic, so what better way to say thank you to vulnerable workers than to continue to provide steady pay.
If you are a home care worker, nanny, or house cleaner who is experiencing financial hardship during this time, you can apply for the Coronavirus Care Fund (CCF) to receive emergency financial assistance.
Thank essential workers
While we’re doing our part by staying home, many essential workers are on the frontlines, risking exposure to keep us all safe. Consider how you can show your gratitude to healthcare workers, your local fire and police departments, grocery store workers, postal workers, and delivery people. Small gestures like a meal delivery, handwritten note, a word of thanks, or added gratuity are great ways to express your appreciation. Get your family involved by hanging signs on the outside of your home celebrating these modern day heroes.
The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings like grocery stores and pharmacies. Their website also includes simple instructions for sewing your own mask. If you don’t know how to sew, they’ve got you covered with tutorials on how to make your own mask with a t-shirt or coffee filter, no sewing required.
It’s important to remember not to purchase surgical masks or N-95 respirators, as these are critical supplies that are needed by healthcare workers and first responders.
One of the greatest things you can do during this time is to simply stay home and stop the spread of coronavirus. By keeping yourself and your family members safe through social distancing, you are doing your part to ensure that you are not endangering the health of yourself or others through unnecessary exposure. If you do venture out for essential items or to take care of a loved one, stay safe, take proper precautions, and always thoroughly wash your hands.
While this is a time that you’re likely experiencing bouts of helplessness, there are tangible ways that everyone can help out without even leaving their couch. By staying home, giving back to others, and supporting your local community, you are doing your part to ensure that this devastating virus does not spread any further and that those who are vulnerable during this time are supported and appreciated.