COVID-19: How to Help Your Neighbors
Our communities have no doubt been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although schools and businesses have closed and residents have been advised to limit social gatherings, our community remains as strong as ever.
Unfortunately, many of our friends and neighbors are unable live their lives as per normal. Seemingly mundane tasks, such as grocery shopping or errand running, are now discouraged for high-risk individuals. Luckily, our strong community bonds mean there are plenty of folks who are more than willing to help those in need. Whether picking up necessities or preparing a home-cooked meal, there are several ways in which you can help your neighbors while keeping yourself safe and healthy. Following are some suggestions.
Deliver groceries. Individuals over the age of 65 and those with chronic medication conditions are advised to stay home. Yet they still need groceries, medication and other essential supplies. If you have a neighbor who may need help, offer to pick up groceries for them or run other small errands.
Share the wealth. Shortage of basic supplies like toilet paper and paper towels are rampant. If you have extras taking up space, now is a good time to pass them along to those in need. Perhaps you have diapers left over from when your child was an infant, a bottle of aspirin that will expire before you’re able to use it, or feminine products you no longer need. Offer them up on NextDoor or Facebook groups.
Offer your expertise. Are you a teacher who’s stuck at home? Offer to assist school-age children (or their parents) with their studies via portals such as Zoom or FaceTime. Or perhaps you’re an artist with a little time on your hands — record a how-to video to keep the kiddos entertained. A computer expert? Offer to help your neighbors set up their systems so they can work (or study) from home. Fitness instructor can even hold virtual classes to keep their house-bound neighbors moving. Watch this instructor in Spain lead his neighbors in an outdoor workout!
Cook food. Some residents, especially those with disabilities, depend on caregivers to prepare meals. But if those caregivers are unable to work, or if they are occupied with their own families, your neighbors may need help. Offer to make a home-cooked meal or prepare frozen meals ahead of time that can be quickly reheated.
Organize a volunteer network. Some communities have organized networks in which volunteers are paired with those in need. Facebook groups or shared spreadsheets in Google can match those who need assistance with those who are eager to give it. Check out the Berkeley COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network for an example of how to get started.
Keep kids fed. Many students in the greater Sacramento area depend on school lunches to keep their bellies full. Although schools are closed, free meals are still available at locations across the area. However, many families have difficulty accessing those meals due to a lack of transportation or work schedules. Connect with your local school district or PTA to see how you can help pick up and deliver free school lunches hungry kids. Many restaurants are also offering free to-go kids meals, including Leatherby’s and El Torito.
Reach out. Social distancing can be especially hard on the elderly and those who live alone. Reaching out to let them know you’re there to help or say hello can mean a lot, and can go a long way in keeping them emotionally grounded.
Spread joy. Sometimes, it’s the little things that can get us through the darkest days. A reassuring sign in a window or a friendly message can do wonders for lifting spirits during this time. Watch how quarantined Italians spread cheer by singing from their balconies.