Are you feeling as overwhelmed as I am with the news and change we’re experiencing? Between moving people to work from home, getting kids set up for distance learning (and simultaneously becoming a “homeschool teacher,” OMG), managing multiple group texts with friends and colleagues all experiencing different new challenges, virtually hugging people whose jobs don’t allow them to work at home, staying in touch with aging parents and other relatives you can no longer visit in person, the list of challenges seems endless at the moment.
Part of what I feel right now is helpless. Yes, I am social distancing. Yes, the technology I work to bring to market helps people to work from home. Yes, we’re helping businesses continue to operate through this. However, I’m not a front-line health care worker. I’m not developing a vaccine. I don’t have extra masks I can bring to my local hospital. So I feel helpless to affect the core problem.
BUT... I CAN be a helper. When I feel this kind of helplessness, I look for tangible ways to combat it. Being part of a bigger solution feels useful. Joining with people and organizations to support others’ needs feels meaningful. Doing something, no matter how big or small, to make even one day easier for someone matters. In the midst of all this strangeness, I’m going to be a helper. And so can you. Here are some thought starters on how:
1. When you venture out to the grocery store, pick up an extra can or 10 and drop them at your local food pantry.
2. Contact your nearby retirement home, they might appreciate some of those extra cans just as much.
3. Take a look at what Feeding America is doing to feed people through this pandemic and find a location near you.
5. If you’ve never heard Chef Jose Andres talk about his World Central Kitchen, you’re missing out! This man is the epitome of love-in-action. WCK is on the ground in the hardest-hit parts of the worst disasters in our world. Take a look and see how you might be able to pitch in.
6. Have your kids draw pictures with encouraging sayings and drop them off at your local nursing home for the residents.
7. Get in the kitchen and do a lesson on measurements. A pinch of this, a dash of that… bake a cake or cookies to surprise a neighbor. Leave it on their doorstep and send a text.
8. Set the kids up with a hose and have them wash your car. Pay them for the effort and let them choose how to use the money (⅓ spend; ⅓ save; ⅓ donate!).
9. Clean out the toy closet and make a donation to your local Goodwill or children’s hospital.
10. Dig in the back of that linen closet and take some sheets, towels, and blankets to your nearest Humane Society location.
11. Write thank-you notes to the people working hard to supply us with our basic necessities: the grocery clerk (bring it the next time you go), the mailman (leave it in your mailbox as outgoing mail), the garbage team (tape it to the top of the can). Maybe even throw in a cash gift if you’re able to.
12. Become a fundraiser or start a team to raise money for the Adopt-a-Classroom Disaster Relief Fund. Adopt-a-Classroom is a proprietary online platform that makes it easy for teachers and schools to register, receive funds, and order the supplies they want and need. All donations made through April 30, 2020, to the Disaster Relief Fund will be disbursed to schools impacted by COVID-19.
13. You’re probably not going to the gym right now. Am I right when I guess your workouts have moved outside? Check out Charity Miles. This app lets you turn a neighborhood jog or weekend hike into a fundraiser for good. Just choose a charity and get moving. For every mile you log, you help to earn money for your chosen charity.
14. Bring your kids and pets on outdoor adventures. The phrase “cabin fever” exists for a reason, so help your entire family stay sane by getting fresh air as much as possible. You can even teach your kids about flowers, trees, and geography as you explore.
Be a Good Neighbor
15. Offer to grab some essentials for an older neighbor who may be afraid to go to the store right now. Get their list, do their shop, and leave it on their front step with a note of encouragement.
16. Love them or hate them, Amazon is still shipping right now. Send someone in your life who needs a pick-me-up a book you love, a new 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle (we are starting this one), a borderline inappropriate adult coloring book, or a fun coffee mug.
17. Support our US Military -- who never leave the front lines -- through the USO Wishbook. The USO relies on individual supporters, and the gifts you purchase allow you to recognize a special occasion while directly benefiting troops and their families.
18. Throw your resources at a local business like Eight Oaks Farm Distillery that has shifted away from its core business of producing spirits like Bourbon and gone into the business of producing and distributing hand sanitizer for free. All 25 employees are still working and they’re operating this project on donations alone.
19. Start a flower flash mob in your neighborhood or across the country. (And keep the florists in business at the same time.) Send flowers, anonymously, with a note to pay it forward, as this person did from Kitanim Flowers.
20. Keep the greater good in mind and let that be your guiding light in the decisions you make today and moving forward. Acknowledge how lucky you are for what you do have, whatever that may be. If nothing else, gratitude for where you are is always a great place to begin.
Till then, happy, healthy hand-washing.