by Therese Hartwell
Over the last few weeks the world has turned upside down. Covid-19 has impacted all of our lives but has also reminded us how interconnected we are. Many of us are accustomed to responding to a crisis by going “out there” to help, but now we are advised that the best way to help is by staying in. Yet, at this difficult time we must support each other. Below are some ideas for ways to contribute in this new reality. All recommendations are subject to restrictions in effect in your area and your own safety concerns. Please stay safe.
If you are not in or living with someone in a high risk category, consider doing the following, but be sure to follow AARP’s tips for safe delivery:
- Volunteer with a food distribution program in your community.
- Offer to help an elderly or at-risk neighbor or family member.
- Check with your local assisted living/elderly home to see if you could provide adult coloring books, word puzzles and other activities for shut-ins.
- Check to see if your local animal shelter needs emergency foster homes for the animals in their care.
- Donate blood, but make an appointment first, as they are staging contributors to comply with social distancing.
If you are self-isolating, you can still take many actions from home to help with the pandemic:
- Donate to a cause that assists those most impacted, e.g. your local food bank.
- If you can, consider paying your hair stylist, barber, nail technician, housekeeper, etc. as if they were providing you services even if you are foregoing them for now. Tape an envelope with a small amount of cash to your trashcan with “thanks” written on it for your trash collector.
- Use platforms like Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts or FaceTime to read to children giving their parents some relief, visit with people shut into their homes and stay connected with friends.
- Reach out by phone, text, email, Skype, FaceTime, or letter to community members you may not usually visit in this way.
- Find ways to support those on the front lines of the crisis, such as medical professionals, first responders and grocery store workers.
- Check with your local Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Public Health offices to determine their needs for donated supplies. (Examples and ideas.)
- Make masks for vulnerable individuals and healthcare workers. Check out clinically requested specs. Join Covid Mask Makers Group.
- Suggest that people in your community put stuffed bears in their windows, so kids can walk or drive around the neighborhood and "go on a bear hunt".
- If you know someone who is looking for work, share an article from the Krazy Coupon Lady on companies that are hiring.
Mutual aid organizations have popped up all over to help people at higher risk of COVID-19 and workers who have been laid off due to the pandemic. Find or register such groups through AARP’s Community Connections searchable directory. Or do a search for “mutual aid” in your city or county.
If you are stuck at home with extra time on your hands, it’s an excellent time for some virtual volunteering. Consider these ideas:
Book Share--scan or edit scanned books for people with reading disabilities.
Translators Without Borders--if you are fluent in at least one language other than your native tongue, volunteer to translate texts into different languages for NGOs and nonprofits.
Amnesty International--if you are interested in global human rights, you can use your computer or phone to review pictures, information and documents for human rights violations.
More Love Letters--write letters to pre-selected people in need.
Zooniverse--People of all ages and backgrounds can participate in real scientific research through over 50 online activities.
Carry the Future--Make blankest, hats, sweaters or dolls for refugee children through Me2You program.
You can find other ideas for virtual volunteering in this article and on the Points of Light website.
And remember we are all feeling a great deal of stress right now. Don’t underestimate the value of small random acts of kindness. Find inspiration here.