In times of crisis, a popular quote by Fred Rogers tends to reemerge across social media: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Fortunately, Mister Rogers’ timeless advice continues to ring true today, as communities band together to overcome the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. And you don’t have to be a healthcare professional or essential worker to do your part. Here are different ways you can contribute to your community while following the latest social distancing guidelines:
The American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers recently announced that they’re experiencing a severe blood shortage due to canceled blood drives, decreased donations and increased hospitalizations. To help address this urgent need, they’re encouraging healthy adults who can donate blood or platelets to make an appointment as soon as possible. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has even eased blood donation eligibility guidelines for the time being. And if you’re worried about stepping out to donate blood, Red Cross leaders ensure the organization is taking additional precautions to help keep all donors safe, including checking the temperature of staff and donors.
While countless charities throughout the country continue tirelessly working to fulfill their missions, there are some that have been specifically recognized for their dedicated response to the current pandemic. These include Direct Relief, Team Rubicon, United Way Relief Fund, CDC Foundation and Feeding America. In addition to supporting these charities, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy recommends contributing to free clinics, food banks and homeless shelters in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases.
Local businesses have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, with many of them closing their doors or relying on government loans – such as the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program – to stay afloat. Consider supporting your favorite local hangouts by buying gift cards to use when they reopen, purchasing products from their online stores or ordering takeout from small restaurants. And if you’re concerned about the safety of eating prepared meals, the FDA affirms that “there is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19.” You’ll just want to minimize person-to-person contact when accepting the food, carefully clean all packaging and, of course, wash your hands. Should your budget allow it, you could also order takeout to be delivered to local emergency departments (some restaurants might offer you a discount – just make sure to coordinate with all parties ahead of time).
Christmas may be a long while away, but there’s a holiday trend that’s been resurfacing in the wake of COVID-19. No, we’re not talking about putting up Christmas lights – although many people are opting for that to help spread positivity and brighten their neighborhoods. The trend we’re referring to is leaving baskets with snacks and drinks for delivery drivers. You can include chips, water bottles and even hand sanitizers, along with a sign expressing your gratitude for their hard work during these tough times.
One of the benefits of the digital age is that you can volunteer while continuing to social distance. Through Crisis Text Line, you can receive prompt training to serve as a remote crisis counselor, helping provide free support during a time when many are experiencing mental health struggles. Alone, an organization that provides companionship support to the elderly, also allows you to volunteer from the comfort of your own home. And with iCouldBe, you can serve as a mentor for a high school student by volunteering just one hour a week.
Sources: npr.org; theguardian.com; whyy.org