While you may have everything in order for your household, there are ways to help your community during the coronavirus outbreak. What can you do about it? Contribute to local food banks, volunteer with Meals on Wheels, or sign up to be a Shopping Angel.
Here are eight ways in which you can help your neighbors without putting yourself or them in harm’s way:
1. Contribute some of your coupon stockpile to local food banks.
Local food pantries are experiencing shortages and are looking for community support. If you have plenty to spare from your couponing stockpile, share a little with your local food bank, or offer a monetary donation — every bit helps.
Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly take donating and the food bank concept one step further. They recently opened their free grocery store, The Store, ahead of schedule to help meet the needs of those affected by recent tornadoes in Tennessee and the coronavirus.
2. Donate to or volunteer with Meals on Wheels.
You can help support charities and organizations with online donations. Donate to Meals on Wheels or fill out the volunteer form to become an on-call driver. Shifts only take about an hour and are weekdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
3. Help local restaurant employees out of work.
To help restaurant workers who are laid off, you can donate to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation. The RWCF has resources for those who need assistance and for those who want to help:
- Relief funds for restaurant workers
- Unemployment information
- Financial Assistance
- Health, healthcare, and prevention
- Immigrant-specific concerns and resources
- Updates on closures, impact on the restaurant industry
- What businesses need to know
- Policy advocacy from the community
- Volunteering opportunities
- News items on restaurants and the crisis
- Data and statistics relevant to the crisis
4. Join the Nextdoor Help Map.
You can mark yourself as available to help neighbors with anything from grocery shopping to phone-ins. Signup is quick and easy:
- Click on the More menu in the corner of your homepage
- Select Help Map
- Tap Offer help
- Click Continue
- Type in how you would like to help in the text box
- Click Add to map button
- Once you add yourself, members can message you via the Nextdoor platform and request your help.
TIP: Place food or drink orders at local restaurants and bars that are open for takeout or delivery.
5. Sign up to be a Shopping Angel for your at-risk neighbors.
Chances are not all of your neighbors, especially the elderly, belong to online social networks. Be a Shopping Angel and offer to deliver groceries or important items to your at-risk neighbors. You can sign up to be a Shopping Angles volunteer, or sign up an elderly or sick neighbor with this form. Here’s the Shopping Angels email address for each state to make inquiries:
National: shoppingangelsHQ@gmail.com (business inquiries only)
New Hampshire: shoppingangelsNH@gmail.com
New Jersey: shoppingangelsNJ@gmail.com
New Mexico: shoppingangelsNM@gmail.com
New York: shoppingangelsNY@gmail.com
North Carolina: shoppingangelsNC@gmail.com
North Dakota: shoppingangelsND@gmail.com
Rhode Island: shoppingangelsRI@gmail.com
South Carolina: shoppingangelsSC@gmail.com
South Dakota: shoppingangelsSD@gmail.com
West Virginia: shoppingangelsWV@gmail.com
TIP: If you live in NYC and want to help, you can also use Invisible Hands Deliver to help those in need!
6. Limit your panic buying.
While it’s good to stock up, there’s no reason to purchase beyond what you and your family will need for two weeks. Grocery stores will remain open, as they are a vital resource. By limiting your buying to a two-week supply, you allow the next person the same opportunity to feed and take care of their loved ones.
7. Send gifts to the elderly in assisted living facilities.
Because elderly people are at high risk of catching the virus, senior care homes have locked the doors to visitors to protect the residents. Unfortunately, this decision leaves them without human connections outside the facility.
If you have relatives in a facility, brighten their day with phone calls and video messages, if possible. You can also send puzzles, cards, or adult coloring books to help reduce anxiety and loneliness amongst the residents, even if you don’t know anyone there. Contact the facility before you send any items to ask about the rules for outside gifts.
8. Avoid the public and stay home.
Above all else, the most important way you can help your neighbors and community is to heed the government warnings and stay home, especially if you are not feeling well. Try and avoid going out into the public unless it’s necessary.