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The Joy of Serving Your Neighbors During COVID-19


Lori is interested in social matters of the day. Bringing people together instead of dividing is a goal she hopes will one day be the norm.

Serving your neighbors can be truly rewarding.

Serving your neighbors can be truly rewarding.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Reach out to someone else.

Here are some ways to help others during this time.

If you are healthy and have nothing to make you more vulnerable, you can bring food to food banks. They need a daily flow of donations.

Go shopping and donate goods to good banks. They will be so grateful as will the recipients. Call ahead and ask what they need most, 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
  • Meat
  • 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 ***

Food banks are in great need of volunteers. Trust me, they take great care in social distancing and wear protective masks, and gloves. I went to a food bank recently and was very pleased to see what extreme precautions they were taking.

Some food banks will take only online financial donations as a health and safety precaution. Going that route is just as helpful and appreciated.

Shop and deliver groceries or donate food to the food bank.

Shop and deliver groceries or donate food to the food bank.

Shop and Deliver Food and Other Goods to People

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 do 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 that can be cooked at home.

Other things to buy that might be appreciated:

  • Cleaning products
  • Gloves
  • 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 the masks 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.

If you have to charge to cover the cost of materials, and people have the means, keep the price under $5. Make it easy on those who are struggling.

Make free masks and give them to someone who needs them.

Make free masks and give them to someone who needs them.

Buy Gift Cards

Gift cards for unemployed people are a tremendous help. Here are some gift card ideas.

  • Local grocery store
  • Hardware store
  • Pet store
  • Pharmacy
  • Car repair
  • Take-out food businesses
  • Local coffee store
  • A Visa gift card to use for anything

Run Errands and Do Tasks

People need errands run and favors done. This goes beyond basic shopping needs.

  • Picking up mail at the post office
  • Getting a load of wood
  • Picking up prescriptions
  • Dog walking
  • Going to the hardware store (especially for big and heavy things)
  • Doing or arranging for household or car repairs
  • Lawn and garden care, including repairs for a mower or other machinery
  • Taking trash can to the curb (and returning it)
  • Fixing gutters
  • Securing homemade masks for people
Take someone's dog for a walk.

Take someone's dog for a walk.

Send Cards

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 homes, 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.

Send a card to let someone know you are thinking of them.

Send a card to let someone know you are thinking of them.

Make Phone Calls

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 ask if 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, and 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.

Check in on family and friends with Zoom

Check in on family and friends with Zoom

Post Positively on Social Media

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, and other related issues. There are people who like to rant and rail about it all with conspiracy theories, protests, and arguments. All ranting does is keep everyone's blood pressure and anxiety and depression levels high. It's understandable that we want to stay informed, but people can find information 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.
  • Photos of good times past, present, and future.
  • 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.
  • Photos of yourself on a no-makeup or bad hair day.
  • Seven-day gratitude challenge.
  • Photo challenges in a variety of categories.
  • Q & A games. Make one up or use one that is popular.
  • Sermons and 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 that could 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, 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.


Create Birthday Surprises

This requires some ingenuity, 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 real hugs and kisses, 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 could 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 cool ideas. Check it out!

Do This In Your Neighborhood

Walk, Sing, or Dance

People don't just need basic needs met right now. They also need hope, to know they're loved. 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 socially distant gaps, and enjoy the fresh air and spring flowers. I saw on Facebook a group of women walking 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 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
"Margaritaville" Jimmy Buffett
"God Bless America"
"America the Beautiful"
"The 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 videos below for ideas, and enjoy.

Give Easy Gifts

Here are some wonderful gifts to give to people who could use a little cheer.

  • A subscription to Amazon Prime or Netflix or cable
  • Pizza or other takeout food
  • Flowers for the garden
  • A bottle of wine
  • A favorite latte
  • A 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 as 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

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Lori Colbo


Lori Colbo (author) from United States on June 07, 2020:

Hi Lawrence, our buses run free as well, and we are now closing in on phase 3. A lot has opened up. Blessings.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on June 07, 2020:

Brian, it sounds like your community is serving its own very compassionately and practically. Thanks for checking in with comments.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on June 07, 2020:

Marlene, thanks for your kind comments. I love that song.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on June 07, 2020:

Ann, you sound like a very good neighbor. Thanks for stopping by.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on June 07, 2020:


These were great ideas here. One thing that happened here on a larger scale was when we went into lockdown, the local council decided that as it was inly essential workers out they would not collect any fares on public transport!

We've kept it up since then (10 weeks so far)

At the moment nearly everything us back to 'normal' but even those who didn't lose their jobs have struggled so having free public transport in the city has put a few extra $$ in the pockets of those who needed it most.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 07, 2020:

Lori, you have given us an amazing amount of great suggestions for making this pandemic time so much more tolerable and for helping those in need..

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on May 06, 2020:

All excellent suggestions, Lori.

The Helpline House food bank on Bainbridge Island has volunteers who deliver pre-packed food boxes—with meat or vegetarian—to homes of clients, one box per week per person. I suppose that other food banks around the Sound are also doing that.

Another smart cell phone and computer app similar to FaceTime is Google Duo. It works in both Android and iOS operating systems.

Re online music, I've become a YouTube fan of the New Orleans jazz band Tuba Skinny.

Another upbeat, hope-inspiring, sing-along song is Pete Seeger's "One Man's Hands"—except replace 'man' with 'person'.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on May 04, 2020:

You are amazing! Your list of opportunities to be actively loving and supporting is incredible. Thank you for all of the wonderful ideas.

I am listening to Tiny Dancer by Elton John right now. A fun song.

Ann Carr from SW England on May 04, 2020:

Here too, in Britain, it's amazing how communities have responded to the call for help and consideration. There are a few exceptions but I choose to ignore those!

I regularly phone and/or email those I know who are on their own or feeling a bit low. We're in self-isolation but that's an easy one to do. Family do FaceTime and my girls did one each with their respective children - I talk to them regularly but it was great to have a birthday chat a few days ago and see them smiling and messing around! I have a French friend who is going through cancer treatment but also contracted Covid-19 (though she did not suffer with it, thankfully), so I make sure she is contacted often; my cousin and I are doing that as she is an 'adopted' family member.

You've come up with great ideas of how to help and set them all out in an easy to read style. It makes everyone think. Thank you.


Lori Colbo (author) from United States on May 03, 2020:

Hi Bill. There's something in here that is doable for anyone. Have at it and thanks for visiting.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on May 03, 2020:

Nothing but practical stuff here, Lori. Your article was great. It would be a shame if all we did was read it. Might we pick out something and do it. Thanks for the spark.

Sharlee on May 03, 2020:

I so enjoyed your article. So well done, and so uplifting...Great work

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 03, 2020:

Lori, isn't it wonderful. Get up in the morning with little chores to do. Then make someones day happier. That is just plain wonderful. If us 99% healthy ones are not having a great time, we need to kick back and smell the roses of life.

Thanks for the suggestion, I am off to get cards today and send them off. Whahoo! I will have Gabe do some art.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on May 02, 2020:

Ah Ruby, you are such a sweet soul. Watching the news will cause worry and fear about tomorrow. Someone once said, "What you worry about tomorrow robs you of today." Turn off the news and trust Jesus. You can always check the news once a week if you are really feeling the need to hear the lastest, but reach out to people in the manner you can, and take care with all the recommendations.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on May 02, 2020:

Bill, isn't it wonderful? Blessings my friend.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on May 02, 2020:

Louise, thank you for your comments. I am happy to see that England has wonderfully generous people as well. I think people around the world have generally found a generous spirit during this time. God Bless you.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 02, 2020:

Your suggestions are priceless. We all can do something. There are many needy people out there since their work has been suspended. We have a food bank at church. I do know that after the world news I feel depressed.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 02, 2020:

Love the suggestions. We are seeing a surge in community in our neighborhood,and it's very heartwarming to witness and be a part of.

Blessings always

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on May 02, 2020:

People have been very generous and kind here in England too. I heard on the radio the other day that people have been making their own face masks and giving them out to people.

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