Ways to Give Back and Help Your Local Community
It’s easy to feel powerless right now. We’re sheltered-in-place, fighting an invisible enemy on an unknown timeline. But in reality, there’s so much we can be doing to give back and help others - and it starts right here in our local communities. There are a number of ways that we can use our time, creativity, and money (and use them safely) to ensure vulnerable populations are being cared for and to improve our communities as a whole as we fight COVID-19 together. If you’re grappling with how to be there for your community during these uncertain times, use this list to take action today.
Flatten the Curve
Before you do anything else, be sure that you’re following CDC recommended guidelines to protect yourself and others. These include washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after being in contact with public places, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings, and wearing a face-covering in public, among other measures. The quicker you can help stop the spread, the greater impact your other actions will have on your community.
Don’t Panic Buy
Masks. Disinfecting wipes. Hand sanitizer. Toilet paper. Chicken. The list of common shortages being seen across the country is growing by the day. Doing your part to temper the growing demand is an easy way to help your community. Don’t panic. Don’t horde. Buy only what you need, and leave the rest for your neighbors.
Be conscious of your neighbors and how they’re being affected by the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders. If you have a vulnerable neighbor or community member, find ways to help. Offer to grocery shop (or set up delivery) for the elderly or disabled. If you know a frustrated parent struggling with homeschooling, offer to virtually tutor any subjects that you’re strong in. There are hundreds of small ways we can impact the lives of others right now. Be mindful and be creative!
As of March 18th, nearly 4,500 blood drives have been canceled in the United States alone, resulting in a loss of more than 150,000 donations. The need for blood is just as critical as it was before COVID-19 took hold, if not even more so now. The American Red Cross has listed donation centers across the country on their website, including non-hospital locations like Red Cross chapters, blood donation centers, and police precincts. The impact of giving blood will last long after the act - one blood donation can potentially save up to three lives.
A number of organizations providing critical community service have seen their volunteer numbers disrupted by the pandemic. Our Foster City Community Manager Yazmin Mora suggests food banks like Feeding America that accept money & food, organizations like Alone that provide companionship and regular check-ins on the elderly; and the Crisis Text Line, which uses volunteers as remote crisis counselors. Our Santa Monica Community Manager Lucy Garcia also suggests a local site like this to find great volunteer opportunities that are close to home.
Right now, many restaurants are in dire straits. Local bars and eateries are the fabric of our communities, and it’s sad to think that many of them may be closed when we emerge from this pandemic. There is an easy (and delicious) way you can help them when they need it most. Order takeout from locally-owned restaurants and you’ll be offering relief to their owners and the community members they employ. You can even order gift cards for use after the return-to-normal. Don’t worry… the high temperatures used during cooking kill viruses and contactless delivery options provide even more peace-of-mind.
Pay It Forward
If you received a stimulus check and don’t need some (or all) of it, consider putting it back into your local community. This could be an interest-free loan to a local business, a cash gift to a struggling person or group, or a donation to a community cause that matters. Get started by searching out opportunities or funds in your community that help residents who have been burdened by COVID-19. Our Santa Clara Community Manager Matt Venegas suggests this site, which helps find organizations in your community in need of masks and other personal protective equipment.
Contribute to a Small Business Relief Fund
Some cities are creating small business relief funds - grants and loans designed to help small businesses weather the pandemic. Most are accepting donations from the public. Mountain View, San Mateo County, the Silicon Valley community, Los Altos, and Los Angeles are just a few examples of communities that are rallying around their small business right now. Contact local officials to see if a small business fund exists in your community.
For more ideas on how to help your community, your business, and yourself throughout the COVID-19 fight, subscribe to the OnePiece Work newsletter.