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5 Ways to Safely Support Your Community During the Coronavirus

A Starter Guide to Help Others During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hands holding a heart

In times of crisis, there will always be heroes who step forward to help their communities. Though the world is facing a tragic and nearly unprecedented event, you can combat this frightening uncertainty by extending a helping hand.

As Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

It may sound daunting at first, but there are actually various ways you can help. We’ve compiled a list of tips, advice, and resources to get you started.

Please remember that you should always start by checking your state’s regulations. What is sanctioned in one area might not be permitted in another. As a rule of thumb, don’t assume and err on the side of caution.

1. Donate to Those in Need

One of the best ways to support your community during the pandemic is by donating money, blood, or food.

Look for credible organizations in your area to see how you can help. For instance, local food banks might be asking for non-perishable items or basic necessities. There are even organizations who feed and run errands for the elderly population. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, blood banks and hospitals are also in dire need of donations.

You can donate to many of these organizations online.

How Can It Help My Community?

Blood banks typically receive donations from schools, businesses, and local blood drives. Due to the pandemic, their access to these resources has become restricted. It’s critical that they continue receiving donations from volunteers to help save lives.

In addition, various fundraisers have been created to support individuals in need, especially healthcare workers who lack adequate supplies.

In times of distress, the elderly, sick, or disabled are particularly vulnerable. Simply calling neighbors or dropping off sealed foods could make a world of difference.

What Are the Safety Measures I Should Follow?

If you’d like to donate blood or food, it’s important that you check with the organizations who are responsible for managing these relief efforts.

For example, some foodbanks may advise you to take specific precautions when dropping off food or supplies at their designated drop-off points.

Most organizations will do their best to limit any person-to-person interaction. When necessary, they will ensure you are at least six feet apart.

Where Can I Get Started?

  • GoFundMe has recently created a fundraiser called the COVID-19 Relief Fund. Through them, you can donate money that will be given to several campaigns vetted by GoFundMe.
  • GlobalGiving is trying to raise $5 million to send doctors, nurses, and other medical first responders to locations where the virus has spread. According to their Coronavirus Relief Fund page, they are also raising funds to purchase masks, ventilators, and other medical supplies. They seek to deliver essential items to struggling families who are under quarantine.
  • The Center for Disaster Philanthropy supports containment efforts and recovery activities for first responders and anyone who is affected by the Coronavirus.
  • Direct Relief is another organization that brings protective gear to healthcare workers.
  • Feeding America gladly accepts donations through its COVID-19 Response Fund. According to their website, Feeding America supports the nation’s largest network of food banks that provide over 4.3 billion meals annually, helping 1 in 7 Americans facing hunger live more secure and stable lives.
  • Meals on Wheels America is seeking volunteers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who aren’t sick can deliver groceries or call people who are isolated and alone. To join their cause, please check your local Meals on Wheels chapter or sign up online to become a volunteer.
  • The American Red Cross: According to a recent press release, the American Red Cross “encourages healthy, eligible individuals to schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment at redcrossblood.org to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and avoid any potential shortages.”

Who Can Help?

Donating money, food, or supplies is great for people who:

  • Want to help others
  • Have extra canned food or non-perishables
  • Can donate monetarily
  • Can safely donate blood

2. Support Restaurants and Small Businesses

Another great way you can help during the pandemic is by patronizing local restaurants.

Small businesses may be hit particularly hard amid this outbreak. Many states have banned in-person dining for the safety of the public, but this has also left some restaurants struggling to pay their bills or keep their staff.

According to the New York Post, the National Restaurant Association has reported that the industry “could lose nearly half of its 15.6 million workers and a quarter of annual sales during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Box of pizza

How Can It Help My Community?

By ordering food from your local restaurants, you’re helping them maintain a steady source of revenue which they can use to keep their lights on and continue paying wages. Not only will restaurant owners benefit, but so will employees who could be at risk of losing their jobs.

To help your local eateries, you can order takeout or delivery. Numerous restaurants have taken extra safety precautions with their food and packing during the pandemic. If you’re concerned, they would likely be more than willing to speak with you over the phone and take further precautions to satisfy your needs.

You can also support restaurants by purchasing gift cards for future use. Bust out your birthday or holiday gift lists and do your shopping early. In addition, some members of the public have created petitions to ask for the government’s assistance. For instance, If “Save America’s Restaurants” went into effect, emergency employment benefits could make a big difference in the lives of food-service workers.

What Are the Safety Measures I Should Follow?

To support your local restaurants, try to only order food online or over the phone. Your goal should be to minimize person-to-person interaction as much as possible. For example, you can request that the food be left on your doorstep to limit exposure to yourself or the delivery person. After bringing the food into your home, throw away any bags and, if possible, sanitize the remaining boxes or packaging.

Where Can I Get Started?

Who Can Help?

Anyone, of course!

However, patronizing local restaurants and eateries is especially great for people who:

  • Want to support their local dining spots
  • Would like to support local restaurant employees
  • Need to avoid the grocery store
  • Are foodies who crave variety

Nurses walking with a patient

3. Support Healthcare and Essential Workers

Be kind to each other.

Even though many of us are working remotely, there are countless healthcare professionals and essential workers who are still on the frontlines.

Along with the heroic medical community, we owe our gratitude to police officers, truck drivers, delivery drivers, supermarket employees, social workers, and more. Please don’t forget all the people on the frontlines who are working hard to support and safeguard our communities.

People across the country are doing their part by sending meals, coffee, and other supplies to hospitals, fire stations, and local businesses. Even a smile or a few kind words could make a world of difference.

How Can It Help My Community?

All healthcare workers and essential employees are carrying a heavy burden as they struggle to fulfill their obligations to the public while putting their health at risk. Anything we can do to support them could have a positive impact on their wellbeing, thereby helping them do their jobs and protecting the rest of us.

Various fundraisers have been created to raise money for medical supplies. In addition, you can donate personal protective equipment (PPE) given the widespread shortage. This can include protective gear like masks, gowns, eye protection, etc. In fact, PPE is perhaps one of the most critical donations you could make. If our healthcare workers aren’t properly protected, we are not properly protected.

What Are the Safety Measures I Should Follow?

If you’d like to donate masks or other protective gear, check with your local hospitals or authorities. Be sure to follow all state regulations for standards and rules surrounding these items.

Where Can I Get Started?

  • Mask Match is a volunteer group that collects N95 and surgical masks. They allocate them directly to workers in need. If you’re a healthcare worker who needs a mask, or you’re an individual who already has a mask in your home, please reach out to them.
  • Donate PPE is another organization that is helping the medical community by providing PPE to hospitals and healthcare workers on the frontlines. They also provide information on how people can safely donate items like masks, gloves, gowns, goggles, etc.
  • Retired medical professionals can check with their state’s public health department to volunteer their services in areas where they are needed most. In New York, for example, the state has already received 40,000 responses from retired healthcare workers who are willing provide care.
  • Contact your local police department and offer to send them pizza or other food deliveries as a token of your appreciation. This would help local restaurants, too.
  • Ask your local supermarket if they’ll allow cashiers to put out tip jars during the pandemic so that you and others can express your gratitude for their sacrifice.
  • Put a box of goods near your front door with a message thanking delivery people and asking them to help themselves. Of course, it’s critical that you check your state’s regulations to ensure that anything offered is safe, clean, and hygienic.

Who Can Help?

Helping healthcare employees and other essential workers is great for people who:

  • Are retired medical professionals or have PPE
  • Would like to donate supplies
  • Want to help but don’t know where to start
  • Would love to express their gratitude to frontline heroes

4. Help Those Who Are Isolated or Unemployed

Box of donated goods

So far, we covered how we can support essential workers as well as those who are unemployed or could risk losing their jobs.

However, other vulnerable segments of our communities include the elderly and those who are isolated. In times of crisis, they are often overlooked—don’t let them be forgotten.

There are several ways we can help these groups while avoiding direct contact with them.

How Can It Help My Community?

Social distancing can be particularly difficult for vulnerable groups. Reach out to elderly neighbors by calling or texting to see if they’re doing alright.

Ask them if there’s anything they need—this could be something as simple as bread or produce.

If you have what they need, you can leave it on their doorstep, limiting direct contact to protect them as well as yourself.

If you’re comfortable going outside, and your state allows this, you can also pass by the homes of your elderly neighbors and chat with them through the door. By doing this, you can offer them comfort and reassurance.

What Are the Safety Measures I Should Follow?

As with our other sections, we advise that you check your local and state regulations. It’s important that you know how to protect yourself as well as others. Some of our suggestions may not be possible in your current location.

Where Can I Get Started?

  • Explore ways to connect with people virtually. Some companies offer virtual games you can play with friends and family across various locations. To lessen the pain of isolation, start gaming with anyone you know who has internet access and enjoys playing.
  • Start a new group on Facebook or a Google hangout chat between family members, friends, neighbors, etc. You could also start a public Facebook group that would allow for more interaction, potentially reaching a greater number of isolated people.
  • Check your area for volunteer-based organizations and see if you can help. According to the Idealist, an NYC-based organization called Dorot strives to alleviate social isolation among the elderly and homebound. They are currently searching for volunteers who would be willing to make weekly phone calls to their clients.
  • Another great platform is the Be My Eyes app. It pairs the blind and visually impaired with volunteers through video calls, assisting with everyday tasks like selecting an outfit or reading something on the back of a box.
  • Various mutual-aid networks have popped up during the pandemic. On this type of network, neighbors might post their greatest needs, such as groceries or even translation services. Look for your local network or start one here.
  • If you’d like to donate to unemployed workers, fundraisers have been created for numerous groups. For example, you can check out the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund to help unemployed movie theater workers.
  • The National Domestic Workers Alliance is another great group that is raising funds to support home-care workers, house cleaners, and child care providers.

Who Can Help?

Helping the elderly and other vulnerable groups in your community is great for people who…

  • Want to help others, locally or virtually
  • Would like to safely interact with their neighbors
  • Are healthy and can go outside in their state
  • Have extra supplies, such as food or tissues

5. Take Care Of Yourself

Last but certainly not least, remember to help yourself. We can’t overstate the importance of self-care at this time. When you board a plane, the safety instructions always advise that you put an oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others. It’s okay to take time for yourself, too.

Group of people

Staying Hopeful in Times of Crisis

Our world is now connected more than ever. There will always be periods of tragedy or great difficulty, but there will also be heroes who help others in their time of need.

There are thousands of unsung heroes whose courage is only outmatched by their desire to support others. We hope this list has given you a better understanding of some of the organizations and resources that can bring out the hero in you.

Mr. Rogers once said to look to the helpers when we become scared or overwhelmed. According to the Fred Rogers Productions site, this quote continues: “To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers―so many caring people in this world.”

We’re all in this together.