9 Ways to Help Others During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

We understand that for most (if not all) of us, the novel coronavirus feels uncertain and scary. But in spite of those feelings, many of us have still been moved to ask, “How can I help?”

Today, we offer you a variety of suggestions for ways to support others. After all, socially distanced as we may be, we’re all in this together.

1. Check on your neighbors

Call or text your neighbors (especially elderly neighbors) to make sure they’re doing okay. Ask if there is anything that they need (be it a box of tissues or a cup of sugar). If you have what they’re looking for, offer to leave it outside their front door so that they can pick it up without coming in direct contact with you. It sounds extreme, but this is actually a great (and safe) way to make sure that your more vulnerable neighbors have what they need.

If you feel comfortable going out, consider knocking on the door of any elderly neighbors and chatting through the screen or storm door just to offer a bit of comfort and reassurance. 

2. Explore ways to connect and volunteer virtually

As we speak, nonprofits around the world are working to problem solve and develop innovative solutions so they can continue to run their programs even as we have to limit large gatherings and in-person service delivery. I urge you to check in with us each day to see what new opportunities for virtual volunteering arise over the coming weeks and months.

3. Waste not, want not

For many of us, the first of many mad dashes to the grocery store happened a while back. And if we’re lucky, our pantries, freezers, and fridges are stocked with the necessities (and maybe even a few treats). But as grocery store shelves continue to empty, we can’t keep counting on restocking as usual, and so it’s very important that we use (cook it, eat it, share it, store it) what we have.

According to Feeding America, each year 72 billion pounds of food goes to waste. A few simple ways to cut down on food waste include storing food in the proper place (and at the proper temperature), waiting to wash produce until you’re ready to use it (to avoid mold), freezing anything that you don’t expect to use in the near future (if freezing is possible), making a stock, composting, and for crying out loud, eating your leftovers!

4. Give blood

According to a recent press release from the American Red Cross, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread, we can expect to see a decrease in those eligible (and willing) to donate blood. If you are healthy and eligible, schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment or join Blood Donation groups on Facebook.

5. Make a donation

While many of us are busy hunkering down and pouring over the latest WHO recommendations, millions of nonprofit professionals all over the world are working to continue to deliver services and implement programs, uninterrupted. And that’s going to be really, really difficult. 

And so if you have the resources, consider making a donation to your favorite organization. Whether they’re on the front lines of the fight to quell the coronavirus, or their mission is entirely unrelated to the current crisis, your dollars will make a big difference.

6. Be a leader

If you’re in a position of professional authority and you have the decision-making power to allow your team to work from home (and programmatically, your organization can operate virtually), make it happen. 

Even if you don’t consider your employees to be particularly high risk, making the call to work from home sends an important message to your team and to the sector by letting others know that you and your team are ready to do your civic duty by staying off of public transportation, out of hospitals, and just generally out of the way.

7. Remember those who are still out there on the front lines

Though it may be hard to imagine, at some point, the pandemic will subside and we’ll be able to slowly get back to our lives. And once we’re on the other side of this crisis, we’re going to have a whole lot of people to thank. Grocery store clerks, domestic workers, nurses and doctors, police officers and fire fighters, the people who work at the laundromat, sanitation workers, delivery people, teachers who taught our kids virtually, and the list goes on.

We may not be able to do much right now, but we can certainly get a head start on finding ways to show our gratitude.

Take some time over the next days and weeks to consider how you might show your appreciation to even one of these people. Call up doctors, nurses, police and other front-liners you know and ask if they’d be willing to accept a delivery of a few pizzas as a small token of your appreciation (this helps out your local restaurants, too!); encourage your market to allow cashiers to put out tip jars for the duration of the pandemic; put a box of goods (or goodies) next to your front door with a message thanking delivery people and encouraging them to help themselves; connect with your favorite bars and restaurants and set up a virtual tip jar spreadsheet (a simple spreadsheet with names and Paypal/Venmo information for hosts, servers, cooks, baristas, bus boys, etc.) so you can still offer a tip and help support one of the hardest hit industries. Remember, if any of these gestures involve the exchange of actual, physical money or goods, you’ll need to make sure that everything is hygienic, safe, and clean.

9. Take care of yourself!

As they say, secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others. In other words, self-care is incredibly important at a time like this, and ensuring that you’re making safe and smart choices is a civic duty of the utmost importance. So for some, doing your part will simply mean taking care of yourself. And that’s okay!

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