A Little Light in the Darkness: 5 Ways to Help out Locally During COVID-19

 

In the midst of a global pandemic that has uprooted us from our daily routine and left many struggling to cope with the notion that life will indefinitely proceed in a fashion unlike anything we’ve experienced before, it is not surprising that anxieties are high and emotions are challenging. While our experiences thus far are not identical and this transition may be much more difficult for some than others, we are all struggling in some way. Through class discussions via Zoom, texts from friends, and conversations overheard during supermarket runs, it is clear that many share a sense of powerlessness. Although we are unable to come together physically, it is essential for us-now more than ever-to come together in any way that we can as a community to support those in need. Thus, we have compiled a list of 5 ways to help locally in this time of uncertainty:

 

1. Purchase gift cards to support local businesses 

As a result of the mandated closure of restaurants, shops, and all services deemed to be non-essential, local businesses are taking a hard hit and having difficulty staying afloat. To help your favorite places, proprietors, and employees stay on their feet, consider purchasing a gift card for a dinner at your favorite restaurant or a manicure at your go-to salon. Not only will you be lessening the financial difficulties these businesses are encountering due to the virus, but your good deed will also give you something to look forward to once life gets back to normal. 

 

2. Reach out to elderly & immunocompromised neighbors

While COVID-19 is a serious and legitimate worry for all of us, there is a significant portion of the population at an elevated risk as a result of factors such as age or immune deficiency. As a consequence, those who fit this criterion are unable to leave their homes to purchase what is needed for survival-namely, food, water, and even medication-and not everyone has friends or family in the area to help out. Just last week, a friend of mine was stopped by an elderly couple in a supermarket parking lot and asked if he would be willing to do their shopping for them. Check in with the high-risk individuals in your community and offer to do their shopping, take their dog for a walk if they are unable to, or simply call to check in periodically. Human connection is even more important now; be a source of it for those particularly stressed by the pandemic. 

 

3.Organize a meal donation for those working on the front lines

Despite the necessity of stay-at-home orders, it is not uncommon to feel frustration and discontent over the fact that we are essentially confined to one place and unable to interact with anyone other than those who are quarantined with us. But staying put is far less burdensome than the risks undertaken daily by workers on the front lines of our nation’s Covid-19 response. To acknowledge their sacrifices and express your gratitude, consider joining forces with a group to organize a free meal for healthcare workers, police officers, etc. Meal trains are being set up at many hospitals and organizing a lunch, dinner, or snack is a perfect way to make a contribution.

 

4. Sew & donate homemade masks 

Due to the severity of this pandemic, health care workers are operating in grave situations as a result of dire shortages of essential medical supplies. At some hospitals, doctors have been supplied with only one mask that they must wear during the entirety of this crisis. As a result, there have been calls for citizens to sew handmade masks that will allow for medical-grade equipment to be conserved for situations in which it is most needed. Instructions are easily accessible online and kits with all the needed supplies are being sold by a number of different organizations. With extra time on your hands, consider giving one of the many DIY guides a shot. 

 

5. Volunteer to tutor a student in need (virtually!)

In response to nationwide school closures in light of COVID-19, many communities are now feeling the full effects of the development gap that the public education system works to close. Without access to educational support programs that help make sure no student is left behind, many students from underfunded schools will begin to slip between the cracks in the absence of support services. Numerous enterprises have been organized across the country to facilitate free tutoring and mentoring services for those who lack the necessary resources or support to succeed. In fact, two members of our Her Campus chapter - Nora Woodruff ‘22 and Sofia Salvadore ‘22 - have launched an initiative under the name of Remote Learning Pals with the purpose of pairing volunteers with younger students who would benefit from academic enrichment and mentoring. Be a part of solutions!