We are facing an unprecedented global crisis, one that finds many of us sheltering in place or quarantined within our houses. As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), along with our local, state, and federal governments, provide an increasingly long list of things we can’t do, many of us are wondering—what is left that we can do?
While many of us are brainstorming ways to keep our children occupied at home (and there are several websites with some great ideas for home-based education or other non-screen-time activities—check out Twin Cities Mom Collective for 50 at-home activities for kids to get started), and with most public gathering places shuttered for the time being, we thought we’d share a list of things that we can do—many of which can have a huge impact on those around us. (Please do follow CDC and WHO guidelines for all personal contact, including self-quarantining, hand washing, and social distancing when implementing any of these or other ideas.)
- Donate Blood. Blood is always needed; every 2 seconds, someone in the US needs blood. Even in the best of times the blood supply is always in need of replenishing. Only 38% of the American population are eligible donors, and of those eligible, less than 10% do indeed donate annually. During this time of global crisis, the blood supply is shorter than ever, as the majority of blood drives are hosted by community centers like schools, churches, and restaurants—most of which are now closed. Are you feeling healthy and well, and pass the new COVID-19 guidelines for donors? Consider getting out of the house and donating blood. Lives do indeed depend on it. Plus, there are cookies and snacks when you’re done! Visit the Red Cross’s blood donation website or the website of your local blood bank to schedule a donation, or for information on how to make a non-blood contribution.
- Donate Food. Even back in 2017, an estimated 12.3 percent of American households were food insecure, meaning that at some point during the year they faced difficulty providing food for all family members. Many families (even those not considered “food insecure,”) have routinely depended on the lunches and other meals that K-12 schools provided. With these schools closed and children at home, many families are faced with providing an additional daily meal to additional mouths when even providing the prior amount of food was challenging. Many hundreds of thousands (if not more) of Americans are now facing reduced hours or layoffs, putting their once-steady income in question. Because of this, our food banks will be taxed in the coming weeks. Hop in your car (or take a stroll in some fresh air) and head to your local food bank with a donation. Not comfortable making personal contact? Consider providing a monetary donation. However you decide to help, your community thanks you! Visit Feeding America or the website of your local food bank to find out how you can help.
- Write Letters—By Hand. No matter to whom you choose to send a letter, there is a long list of recipients who would love to receive a personal, heartfelt message—including but not limited to our service men and women, especially those overseas; those currently in nursing homes and unable to have visitors; incarcerated individuals, many of whom may not have regular contact with their family; or children battling acute or chronic diseases, as (even prior to our current pandemic) they are often not able to have physical, in-person visits due to their treatments or compromised immune systems. Pull out your best pens, practice your calligraphy, and make someone’s day!
- Share Viral Content—The Good Kind. Our news cycle and social media feeds are bombarding us with information about the coronavirus and COVID-19, often with misinformation. Even the factual information can leave us feeling emotional and anxious. Consider asking your friends or followers to share heart-warming photos or videos from their feeds and phones. Let’s infuse our current news-cycle-filled feeds with posts of goodness to lighten our hearts and minds. Who doesn’t love a compilation of canines or a feed full of felines? Plus, getting our friends and followers involved helps to fend off feelings of isolation during this time.
- Learn Something New. Now is the perfect time to invest in our minds! Whether you’ve always wanted to master second (or third or fourth) language, are curious about a new spiritual path, or looking to expand your DIY skills, discover ebooks, books, articles, apps, and other online resources (many of which are free) to keep your mind occupied.
Above all, let’s remember that we are all in this together—locally, nationally, and globally. Taking care of ourselves and our communities, we can work to end this pandemic. Be safe, be well, and be the light you want to see in the world around you.