Being stuck at home with no way of safely helping the countless people suffering around you can be disempowering — but this doesn’t have to be the case. There are various ways that you can help others get through this pandemic in a completely safe way. Most of them are free and can be done from home. All of them have immeasurable impacts on others. As it is with most acts of service, you’ll probably find that some of these tips will boost your own spirit in addition to helping others.
As Queen Elizabeth II said in her April 5 address regarding the pandemic, “If we remain united and resolute, we will overcome it. I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge.”
Here are some ways you can help:
“Share how you feel, slow the spread of COVID-19”
For each person who signs up for the free app, the CEO will donate a meal through Feeding America. So far, 271,008 meals have been donated. After signing up, consistent participation in the app helps gather information that scientists and researchers utilize to track and ultimately conquer the virus.
Here’s how it works: you’ll fill out short simple check-ins each day with how you feel overall as well as symptoms you’re experiencing and whether you’re quarantined. Each question is optional to answer, and the process can even be kind of fun.
The app is made in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Feeding America and Pinterest, along with researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and The Institute for Quarantine Social Sciences (among other researchers and collaborators). It takes no more than two minutes to secure a free meal for someone in need and contribute to virus research.
Sign Up To Volunteer with In It Together
“We’re not going to let our neighbors go hungry”
The city of New York needs volunteers today more than ever. New York’s homeless and hungry population has always been among the highest in the nation, but now there are even more people who are unsure where to turn for their next meal.
The good news is that food donations are currently at sufficient quantities; the issue is the shortage of volunteers needed to distribute the food. If you’re in the NY Metro area and are able to volunteer*, sign up for In It Together. The organization will connect you with the most urgent volunteer opportunities nearest to you.
Personal protective equipment will be distributed at the sites and social contact will be reduced as much as possible. Important to note is that volunteers are considered essential workers, so helping out will not be a violation of governor’s mandates.
*Note: Being able to volunteer means you are between the ages of 18 and 64, don’t have any preexisting conditions that would make you vulnerable to complications caused by COVID-19 (e.g. asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, people who are immunocompromised) and are living separately from people with the aforementioned conditions.
Make A New Friend from Home with Mon Ami
“Can we #CancelEverything except kindness?”
It might not be immediately clear why having a casual conversation with an elderly person is considered in an important service. However, it’s proven that isolation and loneliness is correlated with a host of adverse health impacts such as depression, Alzheimer’s Disease, high blood pressure and heart disease. These issues are more likely to impact the elderly, with especially high implications now that those above the age of 65 are more likely to be in long periods of isolation due to self-quarantines.
To help combat this loneliness, volunteer to join the Mon Ami Volunteer Phone Bank. After a 10 minute online screening, you’ll be thoughtfully matched with a senior citizen to chat on the phone with. This partnership helps not only the person you’re matched with, but you as well. Maybe you’ll form a beautiful bond and it’ll fight off the loneliness in the both of you.
Phone calls are not the only service Mon Ami offers to the elderly. Volunteers also offer elders tech support, grocery runs and video chats.
Donations to Hospitals & Restaurants… Simultaneously
If you have money to spare, here’s a donation that helps in two ways: pay a restaurant to deliver food to a nearby hospital’s healthcare workers. Essentially, you’re simultaneously donating money to restaurants and food to those on our front lines.
FieldTrip, a rice bowl shop in Harlem, gives a 20% discount to customers who place orders for meals to be donated to hospitals, and even covers the cost of tax and delivery. For the month of April, they are also partnering with Harlem Grown to provide shelter for youth and families in Harlem. They acknowledge that a donation to either cause will help them keep their doors open as well as support the community.
For one, this form of support is something that has single handedly kept many restaurants in business. Beyond assisting local restaurants financially, these donations show appreciation to healthcare workers, while helping to ensure that they get enough meals that day: Many are often so busy that they don’t have time to step out and buy a meal.
Put A Rainbow in Your Window
All over the world, children’s drawings of rainbows have become symbols of remaining hopeful amidst a world of anxiety. Some rainbows have words of encouragement scrawled underneath, such as “We’ll be okay!”
Uplifting images and statements anywhere can help boost the morale of others who see them. Other small acts of joy and strength could be more personal: calling a friend to bring a smile to their face, writing letters to people you haven’t seen in a while or sharing playlists or art you like. Help bring a smile to someone’s face.
Of course, the first act of service you should make is for yourself. Make sure you’re checking in on your own physical and emotional wellness. Take care of your body, mind and soul. Something as simple as staying inside and caring for your own health is an act of service in itself.
After this crucial step, see how many other ways you can help others get through the COVID-19 pandemic.