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10 Ways to Help Ourselves and Those Around Us in a Crisis

Giving back to the community during the coronavirus

As we try to cope with an unprecedented health crisis, a lot of us are finding ourselves in work-at-home situations they haven’t experienced before. This can create uncertainty and a sense of isolation, especially as sit-down restaurants and retailers shut down temporarily to help arrest the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Times of crisis present us with an opportunity to come together as a community – to help neighbors and family. This is complicated by social distancing, which medical experts say helps prevent contagion by keeping at least six feet apart from others. Nevertheless, we can still find ways to help our community. Here are some ideas:

1. Videoconferencing

Young woman using smartphone for video call

Using FaceTime, Zoom, Messenger and other video tools help bring people together and prevent isolation. These tools are useful on an interpersonal level and in a work context, where they can be employed for team building and collaboration. Use videoconferencing to reach out to friends, neighbors, and family to alleviate anxiety for those feeling isolated.

2. Donating Services

One way to help others is by evaluating what services to offer at no cost, even if we normally charge for them. In some cases, this comes down to just donating time by volunteering to distribute meals or picking up groceries for the needy and elderly.

3. Donating Unused Devices

Grandma learns how to work with computer in video chatMany of us have old laptops and tablets that sit in a closet unused. Work with your IT team to update and fix them to working condition. Elderly folks can use them to keep in touch with relatives and friends, and schoolchildren for homework, games and communication with their friends. Consider donating these devices to those who need them.

4. Supporting Local Merchants

While many retail businesses are closing temporarily, some remain open. Restaurants in some areas are relying solely on take-out while the crisis lasts. Other businesses may be operating in a bare-bones capacity. Consider helping them ride out the crisis by buying gift cars and certificates for later use. Consider providing a larger tip than you normally would to for delivery service or take out workers. As the vast majority of retail prepares to reopen, many stores are busy installing technology to protect customers and employees. This industry needs a hug right now.

5. Buying Only What You Need

Delivery man bringing food

Hoarding certain items has been a problem at supermarkets and grocery stores. Resist the temptation to hoard and limit your purchases to what you need to get you through the next week or two. When some shoppers hoard items, they create shortages for others.

6. Sharing Skills and Talent

Are there skills and talents you can share through video and other communication tools? Be it business, technical or academic skills, or entertainment talent, you can set up online sessions to keep others productive or entertained. For instance, musicians who cannot play live can make performance videos to share through social media.

7. Donating Blood

donate bloodGiving blood is always a good idea, but it becomes even more valuable during emergencies. Find out if local blood banks are asking for donations and consider helping them.

8. Preparing a Continuity Plan

Even folks who aren’t infected can get quarantined if they have contact with someone who is. Prepare a contingency plan in case that happens so you have the tools to work from home and someone to perform other tasks for you, such as buying food.

9. Practicing Good Hygiene

Remember to keep washing your hands with plenty of soap and to carry sanitizer when out of the house. After touching an object or surface while in public, use the sanitizer to minimize the chance of contracting the virus or passing it on. 

10. Practicing Gratitude

Child writes thank you on paperThe best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer up someone else. Thousands of people are working around the clock to help maintain a healthy community and keep things running smoothly – from medical workers to grocery and convenience store employees to daycare workers. Consider sending them a handmade thank you note or a friendly letter to those in retirement homes. If you venture out to get essential items like groceries, say “thank you” and smile, and honor the shopping hours dedicated by grocers and retailers to senior citizens. Work with your company to start a free community pantry for those who can’t find living essentials like toilet paper, wipes, and food.

Getting through this crisis will be a challenge for everyone, but we can make it a little less trying by helping those around us. Social distancing does not mean social disengagement. This is the time to show how Americans come together for the betterment of humanity. Take time to acknowledge the remarkable acts of kindness happening every day, and once this is over, consider what practices we’ve used in the crisis that can help us maintain a strong sense of community as we move forward.