As the world deals with the coronavirus outbreak, people are highly aware of hand-washing frequency and practicing social distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
But for many folks who aren’t considered “at-risk,” the entire situation can make you feel a bit helpless. How can you lend a hand when everyone is working from home and can’t get near each other? We wondered the same thing, and as it turns out, there are a good number of things we can all do to support our local communities during these uncertain times—so we can all come out on the other side, as unscathed as possible:
1. Be conscious of how you’re shopping.
With people ordering bulk online and a tendency to buy in bulk to limit store visits, many local food shops are taking a hit. To that end, if you’re able to go to the grocery store and aren’t compromised, still visit your local purveyors but at less crowded hours. It’s also important to stay mindful of how much you’re buying and try to not buy more than you need.
If you are currently not on the national WIC-program (or food stamps), try to avoid foods in the grocery store that are labeled as WIC-approved and go for other brands, if you can. For people on food stamps, they don’t have other options when WIC options are out!
2. Find novel ways to support businesses, like gift cards.
For your favorite local businesses that aren’t grocery stores—like gyms, salons, restaurants, or other small businesses—buying gift cards is a great way to keep revenue coming in for them, that you can use later on. You can buy bags of beans at coffee shops, for example.
You can also consider giving local businesses a call, as well, to see if they’re setting temporarily solutions in place, like online stores, or if they’re in need of any supplies, in particular.
3. Make donations where they’re needed.
Many at-risk communities will be hit hard during this outbreak, including low-income and homeless people. In this case, donating to charities like food banks and homeless shelters can go a long way in keeping up the health of the community at large.
Get in touch with your local shelters, and check out this national homeless shelter directory, plus this national food bank directory, if you’re unsure where to start. The Red Cross is also urging healthy people to get ahead of the virus and donate blood now because as the virus spreads, the number of healthy blood donors will further decrease an already low supply of blood donations.
4. Be the neighbor you’d want to have.
In trying times such as these, humanity has a way of poking its head out and giving us a little more faith. In any way we can, it’s well worth it to seek out opportunities to be a good neighbor, especially for those at risk.
Let your at-risk friends, family members, and neighbors know what the CDC is recommending as far as how to prevent and prepare for the virus. Check in and see if they need help getting groceries or other supplies, setting up technology to communicate with their loved ones, or simply a ride to the doctor’s office.
For those in our communities most vulnerable, this is the time to step up and be the neighbor you would want to have.
5. Follow credible news sources.
And last but not least, when it comes to keeping a community healthy and on top of the latest information, it’s so important to rely on credible news sources for updates and recommendations, specifically in your local area.
Keep up with local news to monitor the situation in your area, plus what your local leaders and health care providers are advising. And as far as credibility, Snopes is a great source for determining news legitimacy, but you’re usually pretty safe with your national affiliate news stations.
Be careful and skeptical of rumors posted on social media sites.
These are stressful times, no doubt. But thankfully, it’s often times like these that help us find the common ground that makes us all a little more cooperative. Our communities need all the help they can get—and with these five easy things, we can all stay calm and do just that.