As our daily lives continue to be turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic and we adjust to our new (and hopefully short-term) normal, many people are kindly wondering how they can help others around the world and in their local communities during this tough and unprecedented time.
Whether you’re looking to make a monetary donation to an organization providing aid, donate your time (if you’re healthy and able!) to your local food bank, or are simply looking for ways to support and connect with others during social distancing, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best ways you can help right now.
1. Practice social distancing
By now you’ve hopefully heard that social distancing is necessary to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19’s spread. Though doing so can bring feelings of stress, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness, know we are all in this together and we will get through it. It is now more important than ever to stay home and enjoy family time but that doesn’t mean you can’t still check in with friends and loved ones with phone calls, texts, emails, or via FaceTime.
Remember to send some extra love to anyone you know who lives alone (as they may be feeling extra isolated right now) and parents who are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted from working while also trying to homeschool their kids.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health or could use additional emotional support, many counselors or therapists are offering virtual visits during social distancing. If you are in the U.S., Canada, or the U.K., you can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line by messaging “Home” to 741-741 to be connected via text messaging to a counselor 24/7.
Additionally, we must also remember to think of victims of domestic violence who are possibly now forced to social distance in an unsafe home or self-isolate with an abuser. If you or someone you know is in a dangerous domestic situation during COVID-19, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
2. Donate to your local food bank
Many people around the country who regularly turn to shelters, food banks, and even school for daily meals are now more in need than ever under COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. Though some restaurants are now donating their perishable items to food banks, many local depositories are experiencing a drastic decrease in volunteers and donations during this time. If you are healthy and able to donate food or your time to these organizations, please do so. (Be sure to visit your local food bank’s website for more information on what specific goods they’re looking for and how you can volunteer.)
Many food banks are also accepting monetary donations—below is a list of some national and local organizations seeking donations to help others:
- Feeding America: A donation to the organization’s COVID-19 Response Fund will help ensure food banks around the country are supplied with food for families in need.
- Save the Children & No Kid Hungry: The two organizations have joined forces to collect financial donations in order to “help make sure schools and community programs have the support they need to keep feeding vulnerable children during the pandemic, as well as provide books, games, and other educational materials, along with after school and summer programs, to help kids make up for lost time in the classroom.”
- Blessings in a Backpack: This organization is providing meals to kids on weekends during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as ensuring children who rely on school meals don’t go hungry during the week.
- The Chicago Public Schools Foundation’s Compassion Fund: A donation to this fund “will direct resources to provide critical support to our most vulnerable students and families, who will be impacted the most by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures.”
3. Check in on your elderly neighbors
Individuals over age 60 and those who are immunocompromised remain the highest-risk groups to possibly contract the COVID-19 virus, so it’s important for us to check in on our parents, older friends, and elderly neighbors to offer support during this pandemic. From a simple phone call to a quick grocery store run (if you’re healthy and able!), it is imperative to do anything we can to alleviate some of the physical, emotional, or financial stress others in our community may be experiencing.
4. Support local business by buying gift cards
Many local businesses like hair and nail salons, coffee shops, and boutiques are sadly suffering right now as patrons cancel appointments and stop their usual visits as part of social distancing. While it is important to stay home, buying a gift card from your favorite small business to use at a later date can really help your favorite local spot sustain a revenue stream during this tough time.
5. Don’t hoard essential products
Items including toilet paper, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, diapers, formula, and non-perishable pantry essentials are flying off the shelves lately. But it’s now more important than ever to not panic and not stockpile products that your family doesn’t need as they could be essential to others in your community. While it is smart to prepare and buy enough to sustain your household through a few weeks of social distancing, please be mindful of others and refrain from wiping out store shelves by buying extras of certain products.
6. Offer childcare to parents who need it
With school closures now commonplace around the country, many parents are trying to work from home and homeschool their children at the same time. Other parents who are still required to go into work are in an even tougher position as they’re suddenly left without weekday childcare for their kids.
If you’re healthy and able to offer childcare help to parents who need it, consider watching others’ kids with your own. If you’re the parent of a high-schooler or college student who is now home from school, consider also asking them to help out parents who need someone to look after their little ones while they’re working.
7. Donate to relief organizations
Many global and national relief organizations are looking for financial donations to help aid those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are just some of the organizations you can donate to online:
- Global Empowerment Mission: This organization is distributing #coronakits that include sanitizing products, gloves, a hydration kit, a gift card, and other essential medical supplies to those in need in low-income communities.
- UNICEF USA: Portions of donations made will go to sending crucial supplies to those in need as well as supporting children affected by COVID-19.
- Meals on Wheels America: Meals on Wheels is accepting donations to both their national organization and local chapters to ensure elderly people who are most at-risk for contracting COVID-19 continue to receive delivery meals.
- The CDC Foundation: The CDC’s non-profit organization is accepting financial donations to aid COVID-19’s public health threat when federal and state funding is not available.
- Global Giving: The organization’s Coronavirus Relief Fund is helping to send doctors, nurses, and first responders to communities in need, provide medical supplies to hospitals and clinics, deliver essential items to the elderly and struggling families, and provide food to children who rely on school for meals.
8. Continue to order take-out
As more and more states require restaurants and bars to close their doors and suspend dine-in service, most eateries will continue to offer take-out and delivery, so now’s the time to support your favorite local restaurant by ordering in. Remember that state-wide restaurant closures are being enforced to promote social distancing and have nothing to do with cleanliness, so you shouldn’t be fearful of ordering take-out.
Many popular food delivery apps including Grubhub, DoorDash, Favor, Postmates, and Uber Eats are now offering no-contact delivery options—AKA your delivery driver may leave your order at your door and walk away instead of greeting you—and reduced or free delivery fees for customers. Favor is additionally providing a limited amount of cleaning supplies for drivers to disinfect steering wheels, cell phones, and other high-contact objects and Grubhub has created a Community Relief Fund for customers to round up their delivery orders and donate the change to charitable organizations supporting restaurants and delivery workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
9. Give blood (if you can)
According to the American Red Cross, the U.S. is now facing a “severe blood shortage” due to regularly-scheduled blood drives being canceled during COVID-19. If you are healthy and able to safely make it to a donation location, visit the American Red Cross website to schedule an appointment to donate blood to help patients who need surgery, individuals who are battling cancer, and victims of car accidents or other emergencies.
10. Donate to museums offering virtual tours
Many well-known museums, aquariums, opera houses, and other entertainment venues around the world have opened their doors virtually during this time. How cool is that?! This is, of course, a fun, at-home activity for all ages, but it’s also an especially helpful resource and online learning opportunity for parents now homeschooling their children.
So, if you’re able to, consider making a donation to these establishments to help them sustain virtual tours and keep them in business once they’re able to open their doors to the public again.