Ways You Can Help

I am unbelievably grateful for essential workers right now. Truly. Obviously, and of course, medical professionals. But also teachers who are now juggling virtual classes, grocery store workers who are now serving on the “front lines,” delivery people, waste collectors, etc. I, and so many others, am “safe at home” because of other people’s sacrifices.

But I have to admit that I wish I could do more. I keep thinking… how can I help? Here’s a non-exhaustive list that I’ve been thinking up. Just keep in mind that every community is going to be a little different.

1. Stay home. Staying home is honestly a privilege. If you can, stay home. It can feel like you’re doing nothing when you’re sitting at home watching Netflix, but in reality you’re actually doing exactly what you should (if you can) be doing. I haven’t been in another building besides our house for over a month, but I recognize that some people are still going into grocery stores and other essential places. If you MUST, limit your trips to as few as possible… get what you need for as long as you possibly can to avoid going back.

2. Join your local Facebook group. Look, I get that local Facebook groups can be kind of annoying. There are definitely some “repeat offenders” in the group who post the weird stuff all the time. BUT, I have found that the past month, the posts have been supportive and helpful. People are sharing tips on which stores are stocked with toilet paper, asking for advice for help with homework, posting photos from local restaurants offering delicious take-out, requesting help for neighbors. Yes, there are still a few eye-roll inducing posts, but the vast majority are fantastic. I’ve been trying to answer questions when I can and left an extra can of Lysol we had on our porch for a family who couldn’t find any.

3. Shop local. I was thrilled when we moved to the suburbs. This town felt dreamy when we moved in and now I’m even more grateful for this community. Mike and I are trying our hardest to shop locally when we can. Our Facebook group definitely shares a bunch of tips of what each store is delivering and offering during this crazy time. It’s changing by the day so you kind of have to stay on top of your research, but it’s worth it!!! We’ve even  been buying groceries from restaurants (genius). We are determined to invest in our community right now.

4. Pay what you can, if you can. If you’re in a position to, continue to pay for the services you did before. Housekeepers, nannies, lawn services, employees.

5. DONATE. I feel very fortunate right now and I’m trying to pay it forward pretty aggressively. If you’re able to, I’d encourage you to do the same. Think about a cause or an issue right now that speaks to you and find a n organization that is bridging that gap. Food insecurity in a time of financial uncertainty has been top of mind for me so that’s where the majority of my financial donations are going at the moment. I have been making frequent donations to No Kid Hungry and Feeding America. But the biggest one for me is our local food bank, the Interfaith Food Pantry. Reach out to your local food bank to see what they need most and see how you can help. (Just a note… I’m seeing a lot of various Go Fund Mes popping up everywhere. Make sure you do your research before making any kind of monetary donation. Unfortunately, I hate to even say this, scammers are definitely trying to take advantage of this pandemic, so be on high alert.)

6. Smile and wave. As friendly as I try to be on a regular basis, I’ve been taking it to new levels lately. I’m waving to everyone who walks by the house. I’m giving the biggest smiles I can to try to make up the physical distance. I’m yelling, “How are you guys?” from across the sidewalk and a lot of “Do you need anything?” I was dropping off cardboard at our (outdoor) recycling center and an employee there drove up to offer help and he was just so unbelievably kind to me that my whole body was filled with warmth. It meant so much to me and I didn’t realize until that moment how much I needed that human connection– it was ultimately a good reminder to be that person for someone else.

7. Donate PPE. Hospitals everywhere have a high need for PPE (or personal protective equipment). You may have N95 masks in your garage (I know people use them for home improvement projects) or a box of medical grade masks laying around somewhere. If you have it, please consider donating to your local hospital. If you’re good on a sewing machine, consider making handmade masks. While these are not medical grade, many hospitals are still accepting them (to make sure the official masks are going to those who need them most, to use to keep real masks cleaner so they can use them longer, etc.).

How are you helping? Anything I missed or should try to do myself?

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Jen Prendergast

Donate food /coffee to health care workers. As a nurse we all love getting food. We work 24 hours a day so food any time of the day is appreciated. Even cookies delivered at night!


Yes!! great call– I know restaurants near us are doing like “adopt a meal” fundraisers where you can donate to have them handle the delivery & prep of everything for hospital workers!


Carly, I have to say that you’ve done a great job being real and authentic during the pandemic. You could have glossed over things and ignored the realities of the world, but you chose to address it and that is really cool.


I completely agree. Thank you for walking the line of being informative yet upbeat, Carly!

Charles Reed

Thanks Carly. I also felt myself in the, “I wish I could do more” camp. As a result, I partnered with AU students, and we launched a mobile app – COVID-19 Resources – with the sole purpose to provide quality, vetted resources to help people stay healthy, informed and safe.


Love this, Carly! I just got fabric and supplies in the mail to start making masks today. Can’t wait!


Love this Carly! I definitely am feeling the same way with “I wish I could do more”, but then we always have to realize that if we’re staying home if we can, this is a huge help.

Evelina Snell

Our church’s women’s guild put out two great ways to help. One is a to sponsor a lunch or dinner to be delivered to hospitals via a “meal train” and the second is to donate to help fund retreat spaces at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab (both are for Chicago and Chicago area).

Brittany H

I’ve also been making an effort to send a letter to someone random every day. It’s usually people I know, but sometimes it isn’t. It’s always fun to receive snail mail and I love my daily walks to the post office to drop it in the mailbox 🙂


Love this post. We are truly all in this together! I can only speak to where I live (DC/Baltimore area), but one way to help is to donate to mutual aid funds and local tip jars. Our area has a tip jar for hourly workers (baristas, waiters, etc.) who have been laid off due to industry closures, and I’ve been sending $10 through Venmo to folks at my favorite establishments. If anyone in the DC-Baltimore area is interested in mutual aid, I recommend this website: There’s a calendar with daily events including diaper distribution shifts and helping out deliver meals through food banks, and a ton of direct giving and general COVID response resources for people in the area. There are a lot of amazing activists in my area working on this!


My husband’s cousin switched her and her partner’s 3D printing company’s focus to entirely producing face shields right now! They have a GoFundMe to donate as they are donating every face shield they make to hospitals and healthcare organizations.

They also have forms for hospitals and organizations to request face shields and forms for people with 3D printers to become registered to print the shields and get the designs.


If you are healthy and able, donating blood is a really great way to make a difference. Thousands upon thousands of blood drives have been cancelled bc of the pandemic, but hospitals still critically need blood to save patients lives (typically not covid-19 patients but traumas, cancer patients, etc). Donation centers are taking a lot of extra precautions to maintain social distancing (taking temp upon arrival, limiting people in the waiting area, sanitizing door each time someone walks in, not letting you into the actual donation area until you’ve passed screening) and by donating you can save 3 lives

Molly Howser

Check your local/community hospital system’s Facebook/website! Ours has a list that they update weekly that goes beyond PPE (last week they wanted k-cups and granola bars, this week it’s paper bowls and disposable food containers) and gives directions on exactly how to donate (shipping straight to them from Amazon was a choice!)


Thanks to a recent comment on your blog from a doctor on the front lines in NYC, I learned how much food delivery gifts mean to hospital workers. So, my husband and I sent 20 pizzas to a local skilled nursing facility last week. They reported that two shifts were able to enjoy them. I’ve been looking for ways to help and it was truly the best feeling. SO…thanks to that reader of yours! I love reading about your other ideas as well!

And btw, speaking of #6: “smiling and waving” ~ we experienced the cutest thing this week. We were making our once-a-week grocery run. We had reached the cashier and as I caught her eye, I asked, “How are you? We really appreciate you doing this for us.” And she was kind and said, “Oh, I’m fine and I really appreciate friendly customers.” AND this young man who was next in line behind us, but covered up in a protective bandana, piped up and said, “HEY! I’m friendly, too! You can’t see it but I’m smiling at all of you right now!” It was such a fun shared moment and a memory I’ll have forever from this time. : )

Emily A Palmer

I’ve been reading your blog since college, so since 2011/2012? Now more than ever it has been an escape from the world.

For the last two years, I have been working for No Kid Hungry – thank you so much for mentioning us in today’s post! The organization has been working around the clock to ensure kids are getting the food they need while schools are closed.