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.).