During any crisis, it’s easy to turn inwards and focus only on our own needs.
But studies have shown that helping others has a powerful effect not just on our communities, but also on ourselves! In fact, performing altruistic acts can lower our risk for depression and give us a greater sense of purpose. Neurologists have even linked generosity with feelings of happiness in our brains!
While helping others may seem counterintuitive to “self-isolating” during the COVID-19 outbreak, there are plenty of ways to give back safely! Here are a few suggestions for how you can get involved while staying close to home.
1. Support local food banks.
The economic fallout from the coronavirus will likely continue long after the danger has passed, leaving countless people struggling to make ends meet. Government assistance only goes so far, so bridge the gap by donating time, money, or supplies to your local food pantry.
Meals on Wheels is also seeking healthy individuals to deliver nourishing meals to the most vulnerable people in our society. With nearly everyone over the age of 60 practicing social distancing, it’s more important than ever to support them! Even if you can’t deliver meals yourself, they’re looking for people to make phone calls to check in on those isolated at home.
2. Help students who rely on school lunches.
Millions of children in the U.S. rely on school programs for a hot meal each day. With school out of session, it’s important to look out for the kids in your community. Consider organizing a social media drive to raise support for families in need or check out fundraisers like this one.
3. Support local businesses and low-income service workers.
If you decide to order food from a restaurant, be sure to tip the workers who packed your meal. They’re likely facing financial difficulties due to a lack of customers, so every dollar helps.
You can also keep small businesses afloat even if they’re temporarily closed by purchasing a gift card for when they’re back up and running.
4. Check on your neighbors.
What would a community response be without community? Make sure you’re keeping an eye on your neighbors during this uncertain time. Check in on the elderly who may need help getting groceries or other supplies, and ask working parents with young kids if you can assist them with childcare or other household duties.
5. Donate blood.
“No cases of coronavirus or flu virus have been linked to blood exposure. … We strongly encourage all healthy donors and sponsors of blood drives to schedule appointments and keep commitments to donate blood.”
6. Get medical equipment where it needs to go.
Medical personnel are on the front lines of the battle against the novel coronavirus. We can support them by donating to charities like Direct Relief, an organization that supplies critical-care medical equipment across the globe.
7. Reach out to hospital workers.
Hundreds of people are needed to make a hospital run smoothly. If you know any doctors, nurses, housekeepers, kitchen staff, security guards, pharmacists, or lab techs, it’s time to send them a message of encouragement and support. Just hearing that we’re thinking of them can help them find the strength to keep going!
Don’t hesitate to ask if they need help with childcare or getting healthy meals.
8. Help the homeless.
With little access to basic hygiene or safe places to self-isolate, people experiencing homelessness have a higher risk than the general public. Please consider making donations of nonperishable food, bedding, clothing, or hygiene products to a local shelter. Just give them a call and see what they need most.
9. Don’t hoard supplies or food.
It may be tempting to stockpile food, surgical masks, and other provisions. Please resist this urge. There is no interruption in our supply chain, so food and resources will remain readily available. When you take more than you need, you’re denying those resources to others.
10. Select a COVID-19 relief fund.
GoFundMe has compiled a list of charities and individuals affected by the coronavirus on one handy webpage. You can choose to send your money to healthcare professionals, impacted families, or charities working tirelessly to get food and provisions to those who need it most.
We can help each other in so many ways! Remember that self-isolation is a form of social solidarity, and we are all working together to give our health system a boost.
Share these tips with others to encourage widespread acts of kindness.
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