The Joy of Serving Your Neighbors During COVID-19
The Generosity of Spirit in America
I love how adversity, such as we are going through during this COVID-19 quarantine, brings out the generous spirit of Americans. We saw it after the 911 disaster, and we see it now in an even grander way. My small community has been unbelievable. Maybe you are wondering what you can do for someone else or for groups of people. And listen, if you are a vulnerable person because of age or health conditions or autoimmune issues, you can still help other people.
Some people are so full of fear and anxiety. There are at least two ways to help:
- Don't watch the news, read the news, or listen to anyone telling you the news. By this time you've heard everything under the sun and all it does is make you more anxious every day.
- Reach out to someone else.
Here are some ways to help others during this time.
Donating to Foodbanks
If you are healthy and have nothing to make you more vulnerable, donating goods to food banks is a desperate need and in need of a daily flow of donations.
Go shopping and donate goods to the Foodbanks. They will be so grateful as will the recipients. Call ahead and ask what they are most in need of if you'd like. Also check if they take foods that need refrigeration. Here are some good ideas (I will asterisk items people don't often think of):
- Canned and boxed foods
- Fresh and frozen produce
- Bottled water, Gatorade, coffee, tea
- Dairy products
- Toilet paper, kleenex, paper towels
- Diapers, baby wipes, formula ***
- Pet food ***
- Hygiene products like shampoo, body wash, toothpaste
- Cleaning products (if you can find them)
- Feminine hygiene products ***
Foodbanks are in great need of volunteers. Trust me, they take great care in social distancing and wear protective masks, gloves, etc. I went to one recently to donate some things and was very pleased to see what extreme precautions they were taking.
Some foodbanks will only take financial donations online as a health and safety precaution. Going that route is just as helpful and appreciated.
Shop and Deliver Food and Other Goods to People
The vulnerable people at home who cannot go out to buy groceries can be blessed by volunteers who will do it for them. My community has an organized effort going strong and it is much appreciated. Seek out a local volunteer group, organization, or church that can direct you to people who need this service. You can always to this on your own of course. If you know someone that needs this help, by all means, bless them.
You can also make meal kits with healthy foods and they can be cooked at home.
Other things to buy that might be appreciated:
- Cleaning product
- Gloves if you can find them
- Batteries, including hearing aid batteries
- Postage stamps
- Cards to send to people
- Reading material
Make FREE or LOW cost Masks
So many are making homemade masks which is wonderful. But I think it important not to charge, at least not for people who are struggling financially. This is not the time to make a buck. Make them your gift. I received two masks today from a nice lady. I was willing to pay as I am not hurting, but she said she only asks that people make a donation to the help fund at her church or give them to people who need them.
Materials cost, so if you have to charge keep it under $5. If people have the means, by all means charge, but make it easy on those who are struggling.
Gift cards for unemployed people is a tremendous help. Here are some ideas.
- Local grocery store
- Hardware store
- Pet store
- Car repair
- Take out food businesses
- Local coffee store
- A Visa gift card to use for anything
Run Errands Doing Tasks
People need errands run and favors done. This goes beyond basic shopping needs.
- Trips to pick up mail at the post office
- Getting a load of wood
- Picking up prescriptions
- Dog Walking
- Going to the hardware store (especially big and heavy things)
- Finding resources, arranging, or performing services like plumbing, car maintenance, and repair, small and large repairs around house and property like:
- Lawn and garden care, including repairs for a mower or other machinery
- Taking trash can to the curb (and returning it)
- Fix gutters
- Securing masks homemade masks for people
People always love to get cards. Right now most nursing facilities are on lockdown and visitors are not allowed. That's tough on patients who are very lonely. Buy or make cards to send to:
- Nursing facilities, senior and assisted living facilities.
- People who need encouragement due to fear, loneliness, or who are hurting for any number of reasons.
- People who have lost loved ones or who have sick loved ones, regardless if it's due to Coronavirus.
- Thank you cards to frontline essential workers in the healthcare field, and essential businesses like grocery stores.
- Cards to friends and family just because.
If you are careful with sanitation, you can have your children write notes and pictures to people in the above categories. It reminds them of the blessing of a generous spirit.
Perhaps you can get a group of people to join you in making or buying and sending cards. No need to be together physically, but partner together and make a focused effort to reach people in your community.
This is something anyone can do. People are lonely, bored, scared, and maybe not comfortable in asking for help or just reaching out for company. Keep in touch with friends of every kind. My church has a few people who call church members just to say hello and is there anything we can do for you. This is an opportunity to pray with people.
There are organized efforts of all kinds to make phone calls to people who need to hear a kind voice, to know that someone cares, to receive help for needs they cannot meet on their own.
If you are a person of faith offer to pray for them.
Zoom, Facetime, Skype, and other similar apps are a great way to connect with family and friends also. I do Bible study, prayer meetings, recovery meetings, and family and friend conferencing. Churches are live streaming also.
Post Positively on Social Media Challenge
Social Media is probably the most consuming activity in our world today. With what we are going through now it is at an all-time high. Depending on the kind of friends you have, you will either see a lot of fun, and heartfelt content, or a constant stream of articles on COVID-19, politics as it relates, and other related issues. There are people who like to rant and rail about it all with conspiracy theories, protests, and arguments. All it does it keep everyone's blood pressure and anxiety and depression levels high. It's understandable that we want to stay informed, but people can find it on their own just as easy as you can. Turn it all around and be a conduit of positivity and joy.
Here is my challenge to you who are into all the negativity.
If you are on social media throughout the day, or for a considerable part of the day, make the effort to post five positive things.
- Music or other entertainment videos.
- Funny or inspiring memes.
- DIY, fashion, cooking, articles, videos, and blogs.
- Information about good things people are doing during this time.
- Post photos of good times past, present, and future.
- Give out resource information on how people can help.
- Things to do with family.
Fun challenges are running hot and heavy and they are fun. Some people don't like them, many love them. Here are a few I've been seeing:
- List of most influential music albums during your lifetime.
- Photo caption contest (one of my favs).
- Share the third line on page 56 from the nearest book to you.
- No makeup photos or bad hair day of yourself.
- 7 day gratitude challenge.
- Photo challenges in a variety of categories.
- Q & A games. Make one up or use one that is popular.
- Sermons, worship services. People can't go to church now and are in need of hope.
- Make your own meme.
Another thing I would challenge you with is to respond to others who are posting these things.
If you love comedy and jokes, there are many entertaining pages and groups with funny content. I only share clean stuff. If that's not your thing, do a search and I'm sure you'll find something.
The ultimate challenge I have for you is to post something to make someone's day. In doing so, you just might make your own day.
Pay a Bill For Someone
People are out of work and can't pay their bills. If you have plenty and want to bless someone, pay their electric bill, the water bill, wifi and cable service. The blessing is greater (usually) if you do it anonymously. Call the utility company and give them the name or address.
If you don't know of anyone in particular, call up the utility company and tell them you want to put a certain amount of money toward the first person they come across who is delinquent or had their utility turned off.
If they are struggling with co-pays for prescriptions, call or go to the pharmacy and pay for them.
You can also make a cash deposit into their bank. You don't need the account number if you don't have it, just give their name and address.
This requires creativity, but it's a lot of fun.
- Arrange for a drive-by birthday celebration. The birthday person is taken outside and friends and family drive by with shouts, waves, and signs of celebration. I suppose you could do this on foot if you did proper distancing guidelines.
- Make a Birthday video or do a conferencing party, or just a nice chat with the birthday person. You can get really wild or sentimental and inspiring. Whatever it is, they will love it.
- Drive to Mom and Dad's or Grandma and Grandpa's house and have them come out to the car and see the little ones. All they need is some waves and kiss blows with windows up. It's not as good as the real things, but it can still make his or her day. The kids can make signs and pictures and put them up to the window. It will bless you all so much. You could also just have them come to the doorway or window of their house and you all stand out in the driveway or yard and send love their way.
- Decorate the birthday person's yard with colorful things (don't use toilet paper, you might get mobbed) and surprise them. Leave gifts, a banner, cards. Serenade them.
The link below has some cools ideas. Check it ou!
Walk, Sing, Dance
People don't just need basic needs met right now. They also need hope, to know they're loved, and some just need a lift, to have a little fun. Here are some random ideas, some I've seen in the news or on Youtube:
- Organize group walks with large distant gaps and enjoy the fresh air and spring flowers. I saw on Facebook a group of women who walk together spread all over the street. Rock and roll music was blaring from somewhere and they were all dancing and singing. How cool is that?
- Grab a microphone and some recorded music or a band and serenade your neighborhood. People will come out of their houses and sit in a lawn chair or on the grass and listen. Make it a sing-along. There are some standards everyone knows and loves. Here are some suggestions:
♫ You've Got a Friend - James Taylor
♫Twist and Shout, Hey Jude, or any number of their big Beatles hits
♫Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
♫Honkytonk Woman - Rolling Stones
♫Livin' On a Prayer - Bon Jovi
♫Stand By Me - Ben King
♫Lean on Me - Bill Withers
♫Hound Dog - Elvis
♫YMCA - Villiage People (that'll get everyone going)
♫ Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffett
♫ God Bless America, America the Beautiful, Star-Spangled Banner
As I write this I am remembering a scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off where he is in Downtown Chicago with his friend Cameron and girlfriend Sloan cutting school. There is a giant parade and he is on a float with a microphone. First, he sings Wayne Newton's version of Danke Schoen then a-rockin' rowdy Twist and Shout which got the whole city in a frenzy of elation. They danced and sang along. Classic.
Check out the three videos below for ideas and enjoy.
Do This In Your Neighborhood
Here are some wonderful gifts to give to people who could use a little cheer.
- Subscription to Amazon Prime or Netflix or cable
- Send a pizza or other take out food
- Flowers for the garden
- A bottle of wine
- A favorite Latte
- Gift basket of their favorite things
Have Fun as You Spread the Joy
I love love, love, the surge of love and generosity in communities around the world, and especially here in America. Have fun and take joy in doing something to bring a smile to someone else, whether on a grand scale or a small considerate gesture, it will spread joy in your heart, and more importantly, into other's hearts.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”— John Bunyan
© 2020 Lori Colbo