Earlier this year, the COVID-19 virus viciously disrupted nearly every aspect of normalcy across the globe. As we reach the end of September 2020, life is still far from "back-to-normal," as social distancing lives on and the search for a viable vaccine continues.
In such times of chaos and uncertainty, it’s easy to feel discouraged. And during a crisis that requires everyone to literally stay home for an indefinite time period, it can be really easy to feel isolated and vulnerable.
In the midst of global crises, we are reminded as individuals of the importance of community. We are not meant to survive alone - at our most basic level, humans are meant to live and thrive together. And, while COVID-19 may have disrupted our lives, we can still turn outwardly to share our hearts and compassion with each other.
Millions of people are now facing severe hardship due to the impact of the virus and its effect on the economy. And while many of us are bound to our homes by shelter-in-place policies, that doesn’t mean we can’t still lend a helping hand to our neighbors. In fact, now is a more critical time than ever before to lend our hearts and hands to our fellows in need.
We’ve rounded up this list of 15 ways you can safely help (from six feet away) your friends, family members, and neighbors who are vulnerable to the impacts of this crisis.
- Follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations and regulations for your local jurisdiction. The most important thing to do right now is to take care of yourself and take the necessary steps to limit the potential spread of the disease. Check out the CDC’s website for updated recommendations.
- Be courteous in public places. Again, being self-aware and respectful of others when you’re in public goes a long way. Don’t be the dingus at the grocery store buying all the lunch meat available. Be patient and polite when you are in public environments - and try to avoid them as much as is reasonably possible.
- Offer an extra hand to your vulnerable neighbors. Consider leaving a note on your neighbor’s door or in their mailbox offering to help with activities that could put them at risk, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy.
- Share extra food and supplies with those in need. If you find yourself a little overstocked on certain food items or household supplies, consider donating them to a neighbor in need. If you’re already a member, posting in Nextdoor can be a great way to do this. You could also look in local Facebook groups, post on Craigslist, or even toss up a few fliers.
- For those who are able, consider purchasing gift cards or certificates from local businesses who are struggling during this time. Save them for later or use them now to surprise a neighbor.
- Pay those gift cards forward to your grocery store clerks, pharmacists, medical professionals, and anyone else continuing to perform their essential duties for the community during this crisis.
- Help with food distribution at schools. Many schools are offering emergency food distribution to families in need. Reach out to your local school district to see whether they are looking for volunteers.
- Look for virtual volunteer opportunities. Some organizations conduct volunteer work exclusively online. You can find dozens of opportunities to give back through the web with organizations like Points of Light, BookShare.org, Translators Without Borders, and Catchafire.
- If you offer products or professional services, consider offering temporary discounts or free services for those impacted. If you conduct an e-commerce business and are able to continue offering products or services during this time, consider offering a temporary discount or even free access to customers in financial need. Bluebird is currently offering temporary financial assistance for those severely impacted by COVID-19.
- Donate to your local food bank. Many families and individuals will be relying heavily on food banks and meal distribution services over the next several months. If you are able to, consider making a monetary donation to your local pantries or, if they allow you to do so, dropping off non-perishable goods.
- Order takeout or delivery and tip big. Local restaurants are suffering particularly hard right now. Order takeout on nights when you would’ve eaten out and remember to give a big tip to the delivery person if you have the means.
- Help keep parks and public grounds clean and sanitary. Keep your hands and trash to yourself, and consider even helping to pick up litter (with gloves and then wash your hands!)
- Host virtual social events. We’re in the age of technology, people! Anything is possible. Host a virtual tea party or happy hour with your neighbors by using a variety of free video conferencing services, including FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, and dozens of others.
- Write handwritten letters to your neighbors. A sweet little note can go a long way in minimizing loneliness. Or, if you’re feeling bold, perhaps try singing to your neighbor out the window!
Be kind. We’re all in this together!