The current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has many feeling fearful and anxious about the uncertainty of the times. But while a small number have turned to hoarding resources or lashing out in ugly acts of racism, others have been using quarantine and stay-at-home orders to show the power of the collective human spirit.
Here are 10 simple ways to help others, and boost your own spirit, during this coronavirus crisis.
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Share Your Possessions
Instead of hoarding, take a look around your home and consider if there is anything you don’t absolutely need — like all 10 bottles of that disinfectant spray you bought months ago for some reason. Or maybe you’ve always had a habit of stocking up on canned goods and pasta. Now would be a really good time to bag some of that stuff for a friend or neighbor who needs such resources. The shelter-in-place and quarantine orders don’t prevent you from going out to leave such items on someone’s doorstep — just make sure your hands are clean and you keep your distance (health officials recommend six feet for appropriate “social distancing” measures).
Buy Someone Groceries or a Meal
If you don’t have spare groceries around the house to donate, grocery stores are still doing deliveries, and so are restaurants. This list of resources from Business Insider notes which companies, such as Instacart, DoorDash, and GrubHub, have been offering contactless deliveries for customers. So, if you’ve got the money to spare, here’s an excellent way to show love for your neighbor, friend, or family member.
If you’ve got the cash to spare, there are plenty of others who could use it right now. While some may have the privilege of working from home and maintaining an income, others have found themselves suddenly with no job due to some businesses no longer being able to function at all or maintain their payrolls due to shut-down orders. These articles from Vox, The Washington Post, Robb Report, and NPR are good places to start if donating money to help others in need is an option for you. The articles highlight national and local charities and organizations (including the U.N. and the CDC) working to get financial and food help to Americans. They also advise on how to avoid getting scammed.
Order a Care Package
Similar to ordering groceries for others, you can also send them a care package with essential items and a few knickknacks to help them stay occupied during quarantine life. For example, companies like The Bro Basket, Package Penguin, and Amazon seem to be still operating in providing these services. You could also go to the website of any big box retailer (like Target or Walmart, for example) and create your own care package. If you’re on a tight budget, discount stores like Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General are also options. If you need ideas, try here, here, and here.
Remember Your Mom-and-Pop Shops
Small business owners are likely to get hit hard amid the coronavirus pandemic as more cities move to stem infections by forcing some businesses to close and others to stick to strict hours. These businesses include corner stores/bodegas, small grocers, and produce markets some of whom specialize in ethnic goods you won’t find at major supermarkets — which also makes them essential resources as some major retailers’ shelves remain bare.
Start Sewing, If That’s Your Thing
Healthcare workers are said to be facing a major shortage of face masks with the CDC providing specific guidelines on stretching those resources. These are people working on the front lines of the fight to contain the coronavirus and help those infected to recover. The specific mask in question is the N95 Respirator, although standard surgical masks are also being used (see the differences here). If you know how to sew (or are a fast learner), you can find patterns and instructions here. This article from Forbes also seems to cover all the bases for this act of neighborly love.
Expand Your Prayer List
Prayer might seem like a simple thing to do right now, but for those trying to keep their own fears and anxieties in check, it might be challenging — which is all the more reason to focus on this particular act of neighborly love if you’re one of those people. Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t even have to come up with your own words (see this article on praying the Psalms). You can keep your prayers as simple or as complex as you want. Your primary audience is God and He’s not looking to be impressed. You can pray openly/honestly and as raw as you want or need to. You can pray standing up, sitting down, kneeling, with your face to the ground, or with your hands lifted in the air. If you really want to be intentional, though, create a prayer list of people and situations you want to focus on. Some examples include the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, first responders, healthcare workers, workers doing overtime and risking their health to deliver and re-shelve vital goods, pastors and ministry leaders who are likely being called on more than usual right now, government officials making decisions that impact our well-being, etc. Maybe you feel anxious about family members, your neighbors, your city — put them on your list and make an intentional effort to keep them in your prayers.
Knock on Someone’s Door — Then Take Several Steps Back
Maybe you’re not the neighborly type — well, now is a good time to change that. Being a little friendly can go a long way, especially in times of need. So get out of your comfort zone, knock on a neighbor’s door and then, of course, take several steps back to stick to the social distancing guideline of at least six feet. Ask them how they’re doing or if they need anything, or let them know if you need anything, or if there’s anything you both can tackle together. Talking to others in a time of quarantine and stay-at-home orders is also a great way to get out of your head and break what may have become a monotonous routine. By reaching out, you might also be saving someone from severe isolation and depression, conditions which the elderly who live alone are more susceptible to.
Call Your Family and Friends (Even the Annoying Ones)
Most of us don’t need to be reminded to give Mom and Dad a call to see how they’re faring during this health crisis. But what about that uncle, aunt, or cousin you never really got along with? Or that old friend you kind of fell out with? Or that strong friend who seems to always have it together? Maybe your pastor could use a friendly call, one that doesn’t involve her being the giver but the recipient of assurance. And let’s not forget that kind of annoying co-worker — COVID-19 may be a great cover for small acts of kindness with no strings attached (you can be sincerely kind without suddenly needing to be everyone’s best friend).
Keep Calm and Use Common Sense
Stay informed, at least on the city-level (if you feel round-the-clock updates on the national and global levels are just too much). Follow guidelines issued by health officials, like ones about social distancing, washing your hands, and protecting yourself and others should you start feeling sick, for example. When in doubt, act on the side of caution. The best kind of neighbor is the neighbor who puts others’ well-being on par with their own.
Create a Playlist or a Reading or Activity List
It’s not quite certain how long city- and state-wide lockdowns will continue, so people need all the entertainment options they can get. This is where artists and other creative types come in. Maybe you’re really good at setting the mood with music — why not create a few playlists? Perhaps you’re well-read across several genres and know just the thing to be reading at a time like this — create a reading list to share publicly. Or maybe you’re really good with games… you get the idea. Don’t hold yourself back; you never know what will land well with what audience.