Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has transformed our world in big and small ways this year. There are some silver linings – more time to spend with family, less smog, wildlife is thriving. But there have been some major tragedies as well. With unemployment soaring and uncertainty about the economy, families and businesses across the country are hurting right now.
Many today are looking for ways to help others in their communities. We’ve all seen the big fundraisers on television, supporting huge national charities. But what about your local community? If you’re stuck at home, how can you help your community recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19? We have a few suggestions, and ways to find more.
Millions of people have lost jobs or been furloughed over the past several weeks. For many, getting unemployment assistance has been a challenge. Families who have never needed assistance before are suddenly without food. And those who were hurting before this pandemic are still in need. One of the best ways to help your community is to donate to your local food pantry or food bank.
- Find your local food bank. The first and most vital food support resource in most communities is the local food bank. Donating here will help local families and individuals who are struggling with food insecurity. If you’re not sure where your local food bank is, check out FoodPantries.org for a directory. Give your food bank a call and find out if they have a wish list or what types of donations are most needed.
- Another hunger-relief organization helping in many communities is Feeding America. While this is a national organization, they too have a local food bank directory.
- Not finding any resources in your area? Consider starting a mini food bank of your own. The Little Free Pantry is a small box that can be installed in a public space to help feed those who need it. The pantry works on the motto, “Give what you can. Take what you need.” It’s a great way for a neighborhood or small community to help take care of the vulnerable without the need for a large facility or a lot of funding.
At DispatchHealth, we’ve partnered with many local food banks including Food Banks of the Rockies in Denver. We’ve helped to donate more than 4,000 pounds of food to vulnerable patients, and more than $10,000 to local food banks. We’re proud to help those with food insecurity during this difficult time.
In the midst of this pandemic, many medical facilities are stretched thin. They’re seeing the most seriously ill COVID patients, who may be admitted for weeks at a time. But they’re also still treating problems like heart attacks, traumatic injuries, and other major health problems. There are several ways you can help.
- Blood donations have fallen off dramatically during the pandemic, but patients still need this life-saving resource. If you’re healthy, make an appointment to donate blood or plasma, and encourage friends and family to do the same. If you’re not sure where to go to donate, the Red Cross is a great place to start.
- Donate medical supplies. We’ve all heard about the shortages of PPE (personal protective equipment) in hospitals and other medical facilities. In some areas, this need has now been filled, but there are others where doctors and nurses are still having to reuse supplies that should be disposed of daily. Call your local hospitals to see if they have a need, then do what you can to meet it.
- Donate meals to front line workers. Doctors and nurses in hard-hit areas are working long hours with few breaks. Some rarely have time for a good, hot meal. Fortunately, there are a number of food companies and restaurants donating to healthcare workers. Join the movement by partnering with some of them, or put together a funds drive in your community to provide hot meals to front line workers.
Support the Arts
Performances across the country have been shut down. Galleries are shuttered. And while your favorite celebrity artists are probably going to come through this easily, those who make their living in the local arts scene may not be as secure. Here are a few ways you can help out local musicians, artists, actors, and other creative community members.
- Consider an annual membership for your local museum, symphony orchestra, or other cultural centers. Even if you’ve never attended before, giving your financial support will mean a great deal.
- Support local bands and artists by buying art and music. Yes, we all love free downloads. Browsing art online is fun and free. But artists and musicians rely on sales to help them make ends meet. So buy t-shirts for your favorite local bands. Pick up a handmade original from an artist in your neighborhood. Purchase local pottery or a handwoven rug. To find new artists you’ve probably never seen before, check out Artsy or Artnet. Or search your local newspaper’s archives for information about gallery exhibitions of local artists, then search out their websites or social media.
- Check social media. Chances are, your favorite local artists have social media pages. Search them out and see what they’re up to these days. Engage with them online and share their pages with friends and family. You’re helping them market their brand everytime you introduce a new face to their work.
- Virtual events have become a big deal during lock down. Search out performances from local artists. Participate in their virtual events, and if you can, be sure to donate to them as a thank you.
It’s no secret that restaurants and small businesses are hurting right now. Even in areas where they’re allowed to operate, they’re typically at half capacity or less. And since many of these businesses are operating with very slim margins in the best of times, some are closing their doors forever. If you want your favorite restaurant or boutique to still be around when all of this is over, now is the time to support them. Here are a few ideas.
- Order takeout or delivery. Even restaurants that typically don’t do much in the way of takeout business are ramping this up now. You can get the food you love, eat it safely in your home, and support your favorite eateries too.
- Support local farmers. We’ve all seen the news articles where farmers are unable to sell all of what they produce. Because of changes in the supply chain, many farmers have taken to selling directly to the public. Search out local farms and support them directly by purchasing straight from the source. If you’re not sure where to start, Local Harvest is a great resource.
- Shop small, online. If you’re like most people, your online shopping is mainly from large, global brands. But right now, lots of boutiques and other small businesses are taking to the internet to sell the items they’d normally showcase in their stores. Find your favorite local brands on social media or search out their websites. You might just score some really great deals along the way.
- Buy gift cards. Gift cards are an excellent way to support local businesses whose services are currently unavailable. Prepay for a day at a local spa. Buy gift cards to local shops and restaurants for friends and family for graduation, retirement, birthdays, and anniversaries.
- Need more ideas? Local for Later is sharing lots of ways you can support small businesses in your area.
Seniors and the Disabled
Right now, there’s probably someone in your community who could use some simple human connection. For many, in-person visits are out of the question because these people are at highest risk for complications should they catch the virus. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out.
- Check-in on seniors or the disabled in your neighborhood. The old widow down the street or the man in a wheelchair next door may be lonely and depressed. You’d be surprised at just how much good a simple phone call can do. Reach out. Make a new friend. You’re almost certain to be glad you did.
- Deliver food. For some, meeting everyday needs has become a struggle. Many seniors are afraid to go to the grocery store for fear of contamination. These same people are far less likely to be able to order online as they may not have the same access to technology as younger people. Ask if you can help by delivering groceries or other basic needs.
- What if you don’t know anyone in your immediate neighborhood who needs to hear a friendly voice? Contact local retirement communities. Many such communities are not allowing visitors at all, so seniors may not have seen their family in months. Yet they may be thrilled at the prospect of a regular phone call.
Don’t forget the homeless and impoverished. Your donation, whether large or small, can help bring about lifelong change in the life of a man, woman or child in need during this crisis.
- Donate to local shelters. They still need all of the same resources as they did last year, but they may not be getting the same support since the pandemic began. Check out the Homeless Shelter Directory for listings of shelters near you.
- If you’re healthy and not at risk, now is a great time to volunteer. Soup kitchens need healthy servers and cooks. Food pantries need volunteers to help hand out food. Homeless shelters need help with cleaning, feeding, and supporting those who make use of their services. Lend a hand in whatever way you can.
At DispatchHealth, we’re more than just a healthcare company. We’re a part of the communities we serve. If you find yourself needing care during this difficult time, don’t risk a trip to the local emergency room. Instead, stay safe and comfortable, and get healthcare delivered from our medical teams.
We take safety seriously, and follow strict CDC guidelines. Our teams wear surgical masks, gloves and eye protection for every patient encounter. For patients with respiratory symptoms, they also wear booties and gowns. We also wipe down kits and contents before and after every visit, as well as disinfect our cars.
We’re here to help with prompt care and peace of mind. To learn more, visit dispatchhealth.com/covid-19.