It’s a time of uncertainty.
COVID-19 is uncharted territory and millions of Americans are struggling. While some are losing jobs, others are working overtime to meet industry demand.
If you’re somewhere in between, you might be looking for ways to help. Public health experts say that the best way to help is to flatten the curve. That means protecting yourself and others by preventing the spread of the disease. This includes recommendations like thoroughly washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and staying home.
As we're encouraged to stay away from others, there are still plenty of ways we can help our communities and work to make a difference even if we self-isolate.
1. Support Local Businesses
If you typically dine-out, continue supporting your local restaurants during this time. Order take-out or delivery from your favorite locally owned restaurant just as often as you would visit them otherwise. Additionally, if personal finances allow, order online from locally owned stores and boutiques. Even if these shops are closed , some may still be filling orders behind closed doors. Share your experience on social media and encourage your friends and followers to also support small, locally-owned businesses.
2. Write Reviews
Write a positive reviews or recommendations for your favorite locally owned businesses, services, authors, entertainers, etc. If they're not open or servicing the public, you can still use this time to boost their ratings on outlets like Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
3. Pick Up Litter
If you're talking walks, consider picking up litter as you go. You’ll need a plastic bag to collect trash, another bag if you want to separate recyclables, and gloves to avoid touching objects with your bare hands. You should also wear a vest if you’re along a road and use a pick-up stick for added safety. Be sure to follow local safety recommendations. Click here to learn more about staying safe while making a difference from the Doing Good Together organization.
4. Give Blood
As group restrictions are in place in cities and counties nationwide, most blood drives are cancelled in an effort to limit community spread of the virus. However, with fewer donations, there is an even greater need for blood. Despite the pandemic, there are still other emergencies happening and people are still getting blood transfusions. Contact your local blood bank to see if you can schedule a private appointment. Be sure to talk to them about the step they’re taking to ensure a clean and safe donation experience.
5. Fill Out Your Census
Take time to fill out your 2020 Census questionnaire. It won't have a direct impact right now, but it will help your state and locality in the future. I completed mine online and it took less than 10 minutes. The U.S. Census Bureau uses this data to improve your communities, determine seats in Congress, and designate proper funding for things like roads and schools.
6. Foster a Dog or Cat
Many shelters and rescue facilities are working to find temporary homes for their adoptable animals during this time. Best Friends Animal Society has seen an overwhelming response to foster efforts. However, it may not be the case for your local animal rescue organizations. If you’re able to foster a furry friend, reach out to a shelter or rescue and ask how you can help.
7. Make Protective Masks
Help to protect health care workers by crafting and sewing protective masks. JOANN Stores released a statement saying it will open its classrooms and offer supplies to anyone who wants to help make these items. The fabric and craft store says participating locations will offer sewing machines, free materials, and guidance for those who plan to donate their creations to area hospitals. Click here to read the full statement.
8. Share Encouragement
Organize a card, e-card, or letter drive for those considered essential employees. These types of employees are those who have to physically go to work rather than working from home. This includes, but is not limited to, health care professionals, pharmacy workers, law enforcement, first responders, grocery workers, truckers, civil service employees, journalists, mail carriers, etc. If you know someone employed at an essential business or within an essential industry, they might be able to offer advice on how to execute a card drive. These cards or letters can be handmade with low-cost materials you already have at home. This could also be a great activity for children who are home from school and looking to stay busy. Include a note of positivity, encouragement, and gratefulness for their commitment to their profession and their desire to serve others. I know firsthand that hearing, or reading, the phrase “thank you” goes a long way – especially while working long hours during a national emergency.
9. Help Battle Food Insecurity
Reach out to your local food bank, Salvation Army, or Meals on Wheels. These groups are providing more meals than ever and could use your help. They may need volunteers, donations, or funding. Click here to find your local food bank, click here your local Salvation Army, or click here to find a local “Meals on Wheels” provider.
10. Offer Your Assistance
Check on your family members, friends, and neighbors. While this might sound silly, because we should probably do this anyway, it’s a good reminder. Order or pick up groceries for someone who is unable to safely go to the store. Give them a roll (or two) of toilet paper or paper towels. Send them a meal delivery from a local restaurant. At the very least, tell them you’re thinking of them and offer your help if needed.
What ways are you helping your community?
Please share in the comments.
Together, we will get through this difficult time.
Maria Satira is a full-time communications director, small business owner, blogger, freelance writer, and content creator. She loves sarcasm, rescue dogs, and red wine. She despises bland food, poor grammar, and litterbugs.