7 ways to support your community during social distancing

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Our instincts tell us to pull together in a crisis, but social distancing requires us to stay six feet apart. The coronavirus has changed how we do a lot of things, including helping each other out in times of need.

It’s hard to stay at home with all this time on your hands when so many people are in need. The good news is there are still ways you can help without compromising your own safety.

Here are a few of the things you can do to support your loved ones, neighbors and local businesses during the pandemic:

1. Shop for vulnerable neighbors

A woman in Bend was walking into Safeway when she heard calls for help from a nearby car. It was a couple in their 80s who needed groceries but were afraid to go inside. Within your community, there are likely at-risk people—those who are over 60 or have compromised immune systems—with no family members nearby to shop for them. Offer to run errands for them to help limit their exposure to potential virus carriers.

2. Check on isolated loved ones

People who live alone, are quarantined or have a high risk of infection may need extra support during this time. Leave care packages on their doorstep and check in with them often via phone or text to ask if they’re OK, see if they need anything, and provide some emotional support.

3. Offer tech support

Social distancing has made people more reliant on technology than ever. From staying connected with loved ones to performing basic functions such as banking, a few digital skills can make all the difference in safely weathering the pandemic. For early technology adopters, the transition to digital living hasn’t been so bad, but there are plenty of others who are accessing basic online services for the first time. If you have some tech skills, you can help others by talking them through:

  • Using social media or messaging apps
  • Accessing online resources
  • Finding virtual communities they can join

4. Buy gift cards from local businesses

With customers staying home, many small businesses such as restaurants and coffee shops are struggling to stay afloat. Even though you can’t visit your favorite hangouts right now, you can help them get through the coming weeks by buying gift cards. It’s a simple way to give local businesses revenue when they need it most—plus you’ll have the gift cards to spend once social distancing ends and you’re ready to get out again.

5. Donate blood

With hundreds of blood drives across the country canceled, national blood supplies are at risk of running low. Fortunately, there’s no evidence the coronavirus can be transmitted through blood. Healthy, eligible individuals can still donate safely by scheduling an appointment at RedCrossBlood.org.

6. Foster a pet

As animal shelters close their doors, all the pets awaiting adoption need a place to go. Pet fostering has skyrocketed as people rush to offer temporary care to displaced animals. It can be a win-win solution, especially for isolated people who might benefit from some furry companionship. Check with your local animal shelter, or visit the Humane Society website to find out how you can help.

7. Donate to a nonprofit

Support people affected by the coronavirus by donating to one of the nonprofit organizations that are out working on the frontlines. Help stock your local food bank, give medical supplies to healthcare workers, support a local community relief program, contribute to a cause that’s important to you, or make a financial gift to one of the many charities that are battling the outbreak around the world.

Social distancing might keep you at home, but it doesn’t have to prevent you from helping others. Even a small act of kindness, performed from afar, can be heroic in a crisis.