How We Can Help Out During A Global Pandemic: Resources, Ideas, and Encouragement

I hadn’t planned on writing about the Coronavius again, but when I sat down to write what I’d previously planned on my editorial calendar (don’t be impressed, it’s just my regular calendar, but “editorial” sounds so, well, editorial), I realized I had no enthusiasm or energy for “regular” topics. We’re all feeling the impact of the Coronavirus in some way, or we will soon, and we should all be preparing for what’s almost certain to be a recession. And not a short, easy recession either. So, I’ll sink into what’s on all of our minds. I’ll write what feels natural during this most unnatural time.

My first article on the Coronavirus dealt primarily with the immediate financial and health ramifications of a pandemic. Now that I’ve had a few days to settle into isolation with my husband and children, I want to discuss the ways in which we can offer help to others. Please share your specific suggestions in the comments section. Everyone’s community is different, everyone will have different opportunities to serve their neighbors, and I want to hear all of your ideas and advice.

Form a Neighborhood Committee

My town, being only 400 people, is my neighborhood and one of my neighbors created a committee to assist fellow townspeople. We’re a virtual committee, meeting by email and discussing over the phone. We’re still evolving as needs arise, but the basic idea is thus:

  • Our assembled task force will serve as the organizational node for townsfolk who need assistance.
  • The task force consists of people who are able to drive the 40 minutes to purchase groceries, pick-up prescriptions, and buy other essentials.
  • The task force also consists of people designated as “organizers” who will answer phone and email requests for aid and offers of assistance.
  • The organizers will then communicate with the shoppers/errand-runners to coordinate trips to town.
  • By doing this, we aim to reduce the amount of in-person contacts by only having a few folks designated as shoppers/errand-runners. Our goal is also to keep our elderly neighbors home and out of the grocery stores as much as possible to limit everyone’s infection risk.
  • The task force is alert to any resources available to our neighbors, such as the breakfasts and lunches being distributed by the school district.

This committee arose simply from need and from a desire for all of us to make sure our neighbors are ok. We’re not a formal group, we’re not codified in any way and we don’t even have a name. We don’t need one. The need, and our purpose, is clear. I think now’s the time for these type of informal, ad hoc groups to coalesce in a desire to weave the web of community care that we’re all going to need in order to get through this pandemic. If you live in my town and would like to become involved, send an email to mrs@frugalwoods.com.

Donate Money To Organizations On The Front Lines

My husband and I made the decision a few years back to focus our philanthropy in our local community. There’s a lot of economic need in our area and we concentrate our donations on small organizations with small budgets that perform necessary, direct services in our town and the surrounding area. My rationale–as a former professional fundraiser–is that a donation of, say $1,000, will have a much greater impact on an organization with a $100,000 annual budget than on an organization with a $25M annual budget. Wherever you live, there are likely organizations on the front lines of this epidemic that need your support.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Food pantries
  • Homeless shelters
  • Domestic violence support organizations/shelters/resource centers

Suggestions from readers:

  • Food banks: Tara shared that, “Food Banks, not just food pantries, may be the organizations worth giving first, especially if your local food pantry has had to shutter due to Covid-19 (a lot are run by senior volunteers so some have had to temporarily close). Food Banks are the ones who collect all the food, either though donations and/or food purchasing (at significantly reduced rate vs. individuals buying) and they distribute to local food pantries (with the FB handling all transportation, logistics, and costs) in a designated area. Feeding America has designated Food Banks across the united states that cover every geographic region.”

Support Your Local Economy

Similar to donating to local charities, now’s the time to bolster our local economy. In Vermont, all bars and restaurants are closed, but they’re still allowing take-out orders. If your state/city still permits delivery or take-out, consider supporting your favorite local establishments. We don’t have any restaurants in our town and we’re too far away for anywhere to deliver to us, but I’m hoping we can make the hour and twenty-minute roundtrip drive to pick-up take-out soon. I have to say, in the four years we’ve lived here, I haven’t missed take-out delivery since this week! Buying gift certificates to restaurants is another way to help prop up their sales during this abysmal economic time.

Additionally, my husband and I are looking for ways to directly support our neighbors since many of them sell farm products. We’ve just found a neighbor to buy eggs from and we already have a local source for beef. I’ll be on the lookout for any other neighbors selling goods in our hyper-local economy in the coming weeks.

Your local economy will look different based on where you live, but, if you’re financially able, I think it makes sense to consider how you might support locally-owned businesses during this downturn. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that you should only make these types of purchases if you have a solid emergency fund saved up, are not in immediate risk of losing your job, and have your debts under control.

Go Virtual

Since my little family is in total isolation–no one is coming, no one is going–we’ve turned to the internet to keep up with our friends. I’m making a point of reaching out to friends and neighbors by text, email, and phone and they’re doing the same for me. I’m having video chat dates and I have to say, it really does help. Every time I get a text, it’s a reminder that I’m not alone. It seems overly simple, but staying in contact feels like an invaluable lifeline right now. Tethering myself to my local friends, my family across the country, and my neighbors feels like the right way to remind each other that we’re all still here and we all still care.

Educate Yourself

My good friend, Erin Lowry of Broke Millennial, put together a COVID-19 resource handbook in which she compiled state and federal resources on everything from food to shelter to jobs to charities in need of donations to information about the disease itself. It’s a highly comprehensive undertaking, which is accessible here. If you find this resource helpful, please share it with friends, family, and anyone who might be in need of assistance.

Keep Yourself Out Of Circulation: Be One Less Patient

As I noted earlier this week, staying home and maintaining social distance (if you must leave your house) are ways to profoundly help slow the spread of this virus. If you’re able to stay home, do it for those in our communities who cannot stay home. We all have a role to play right now.

How are you helping others while maintaining social distancing? What suggestions do you have for boosting local economies?

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82 Responses

  1. Dymphy says:

    Yesterday I supported my favourite restaurant with a take out, which I hope they continue to do after this coronacrisis. It was a delicious indian menu. I now work at home and stay inside as much as possible. Old neglected projects are now being picked up. It looks so much nicer now!

  2. I’m fortunate in that although I’m semi-retired my still part time job as a public servant has me directly helping the government fight this thing from an information management and data perspective. That and upping my donations to various groups.

    • Victoria says:

      Ooh that’s funny, I’m in the UK in information management! I work for a local authority too. Across London our group of IM people already has a forum so we’re sharing the quick guides we’re putting together and templates to manage the emergency mgmt work.

  3. We have an elderly neighbor who’s going through a bunch of health problems right now, so this week, whenever I’ve made dinner and know there will be lots of leftovers, I ask her if she wants any (and we do a quick drop off on the doorstep without going inside or lingering, and obviously I’ll only do this if I’m free from illness myself and I am super careful to follow food safety guidelines). I’ve also taken meals to two other families, one who was down with influenza A and the other who had been dealing with the stress of trying to juggle everything going on.

    We’re also prepping a box for our food pantry that will include some especially high-need items, like baby formula and diapers, that we happen to have an abundance of.

  4. Jen says:

    At least one local restaurant that I know of is putting together pantry boxes (including toilet paper!) and meal kits from their menu, so I’ll be picking something up from them, since even the smaller grocery services are overwhelmed here. There’s a local bar that’s keeping staff on by selling on pasta that was destined for cancelled events. Gift vouchers for the local cinema and a restaurant. A book from an independent bookshop that’s doing free delivery. Trying to figure out the best option to support travel agents, I would like if I can to book rather than buy a voucher since that doesn’t directly help the agent. Lots of change fees being waived on current bookings so maybe I just need to take the risk.

  5. Tara says:

    thank you for posting this. I also like to add that Food Banks, not just food pantries, may be the organizations worth giving first, especially if your local food pantry has had to shutter due to Covid-19 (a lot are run by senior volunteers so some have had to temporarily close). Food Banks are the ones who collect all the food, either though donations and/or food purchasing (at significantly reduced rate vs. individuals buying) and they distribute to local food pantries (with the FB handling all transportation, logistics, and costs) in a designated area. Feeding America has designated Food Banks across the united states that cover every geographic region. https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank is a way to find your local food bank and make a contribution to one close to you (or close to your heart, like your hometown, the city your kids live in, etc.) Some Food Banks also have lost volunteers due to the crisis (many volunteers would be college/HS groups for instance)… if you are healthy and able and are willing, reach out to see if they need help with packing boxes for distribution. But again, that’s only if you feel good and are able! And if you can’t do that or give, promoting food banks and their virtual food drives online via social media is a way everyone can help out.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much for this resource, Tara! I’ll add your suggestions to the list in the post.

    • Colleen says:

      I second the recommendation to volunteer with local food pantries or food banks if you have time and are able (have been feeling healthy, are not part of a vulnerable population, and have been practicing social distancing).

      All of the food pantries in my area have had to shift their distribution methods from one where the clients pick up inside the building or “shop” for their food at different tables to distributing pre-packed bags outside of the building. This means that there is an urgent need for volunteers to pack these bags prior to distribution time. As Tara mentioned, many of these organizations relied heavily on senior volunteers, so they are scrambling to find people to fill these tasks. The organizations I have seen are also very conscious of making sure volunteers are safe by implementing new procedures (intense cleaning, social distancing while packing, no contact with clients).

  6. Yuri says:

    Since I count as “system supporting critical infrastructure” I have 4 days with 10 hour shifts and then 4 days free. I work in subtitling for the hearing impaired in the local news station. I am forbidden from taking public transport (since I don’t have a driver’s license, my company pays for Taxis – I opt to walk to work – it’s about an hour, the streets are empty, it helps me to keep healthy and I get daylight – and take the Taxi home (it’s late at night and I am thoroughly exhausted.) and to meet people I don’t live with so as to not risk myself – or my shift and their families. So I have to see people – and they are good people. We keep our distance and have seperate offices as far as possible, but still … other people. I am very, very lucky that way.
    And I am very lucky to HAVE a job – so thanks for the suggestion of donating money. I will do that.

    • Meg Brown says:

      If you have any N95 masks in your garage/basement/shed please donate them to your local hospital or if you have a neighbor who is in the medical field contact them and offer them the masks. These masks are commonly found at stores like Home Depot. My husband is a physician at a major hospital in St. Louis. We are reaching out to everyone we can for these masks. There are shortages being reported at numerous hospitals around the country and every donated mask will help.

  7. Susan says:

    Please use paper bags given out by the grocery store and not reusable bags if shopping for a critically ill person. If possible, shop w gloves and avoid cross contamination by not touching too many items. Use hand sanitizer before entering the grocery, wipe down the cart handle, and use the sanitizer before loading the belt and after you put the packed groceries in the car. This may seem like overkill, but to quote my best friend with stage 4 cancer, “I’ve fought too long and hard against this cancer, I don’t want a stupid virus to be the thing that kills me.” We all need to be neighbors right now.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you for this advice, Susan!

    • kwoz says:

      You may take care yourself but shop workers and customers may have touched the items. In addition you can spray plastic containers and plastic wrapped items (e.g. milk bottles, cheese, margarine) with diluted bleach and wait 5 mins before handling them. If you have food safe bleach you can do the same with apples, pumpkins and many other foods. Many food producers do this anyway. All fruit and vegetables can be washed with soap and water then rinsed with water. Use a soft brush for root vegetables or just wash your hands properly after handling them. I would probably avoid soft leafy vegetables as they don’t stand up to the washing as well. Make sure you dry items well otherwise the moisture hastens decay. Any cardboard packets and paper covered tins just leave them sitting somewhere with a highish heat e.g. in the sun, in the car in the sun. The virus doesn’t last longer than a couple of days on cardboard so keep a couple of days ahead. This may seem overkill but for immunosuppressed people it is worth it.

  8. Katie says:

    Thank you for this post! In times like these, it can be so helpful to hear how other people are helping, and the ability to help others can do so much good and give yourself the mental health boost we all need right now.
    So far:
    -I have ordered cat food from PEaPOD and had it dropped off at the MSPCA
    -I have donated all of my formula samples I was keeping for when the baby arrived 4 months from now
    -I was able to order formula needed for a family who couldn’t get it and my mom drove it an hour to meet their relative up in Boston
    -I have called families to inquire about food/chromebook/internet and shared our districts resources (I am not supposed to be working right now – it is considered a “snow” week)
    -I have hosted several Zoom meetings and taught multiple people how to use the platform
    -I have created a “care package” for my tenant which included TP, Lysol Wipes and disposable gloves and had it dropped on her stairs

    *I am not leaving the house except to go on an nature walk on good weather days. This has been since my last day I worked last Thursday. I have Cystic Fibrosis, diabetes and am currently pregnant. I am at extreme high risk of this virus. There is so much that everyone can do to help others!!! Thank you all for staying inside whenever possible and doing what you can to protect your families and communities!

    Best,
    Katie

    • Lanae says:

      Katie- I’m so glad you’re self isolating. My sister has CF and her employer is being a jerk about allowing her paid time off. She’s still unsure as to what to do but I’m so afraid for her. Please stay safe and isolated ❤️

  9. Lisa O says:

    Thank you for this post….We are All In This Together! If we work together we will get come out on the other side much better.

    Faith over Fear … Be Well!

  10. CL says:

    Hi Frugalwoods community! As an employee at a local food pantry in Minnesota, I can say that donating to a large state-run food bank is akin to donating to an organization with a huge, million dollar budget. While food pantries and shelves do receive food in bulk from food banks, we have to PAY for the food. The rate is discounted per pound, but it’s not insignificant.

    This has been our struggle during this pandemic— many donors are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to food banks, but community-centered, small food pantries won’t ever see that money. And we still have to buy the food from the banks. Just want to make that clear! If you want to have a big impact on your local community, then donate (food or money) directly to the food shelf.

    • Judy Welles says:

      Let’s hope that the Food Banks will do what so many other businesses are doing, making it easy for people to continue to use their services by lowering prices and fees, dropping cancellation costs, keeping things free indefinitely which were time-limited (like online ability to read “The New York Times,” ) etc. Hopefully Mrs. Frugalwoods is famous enough that some high-ranking person in Food Bank-dom will read this and go “Oh yeah, we need to lower our prices to local Food Pantries.”

    • Gretel says:

      Yes CL! I’ve volunteered at our local pantry and was told the same thing. Sometimes it’s cheaper for them to buy food elsewhere. Always donate as low down on the food chain so to speak, a local nonprofit theater, your local spca (who needs supplies now, since donations will be down) Our local public schools are giving out meals to students,who otherwise might not eat. (this is not paid by the school system, but rather volunteer groups)

  11. Patty says:

    Thank you for your info, this is very useful. If people’s anxiety levels are like my own, we are also looking for happy reading uplifting things can take our minds away from the virus. I love reading about you and your family, being from Cambridge area and following along with your life adventure, please distract us 🙂 Be well, stay safe, glad you are hunkered down!

  12. Miser Mom says:

    Donating blood is still important; in fact, it’s increasingly likely to be so as the number of people who are eligible to donate dwindles.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much for sharing! Is there a resource people can use to find a local blood bank where they can donate?

      • Sophie says:

        I work at a hospital and our hospital blood bank is still open. I’d suggest that people look for the hospital closest to them and make sure to call ahead – given social distancing, our blood banks are only taking people by appointment (plus that way they can try to spread it out instead of having everyone give today/tomorrow). The Red Cross is also taking appts (varies by location): https://www.redcrossblood.org/

    • Caroline Bowman says:

      Even in SA, where we are not even allowed out for walks (which is actually nuts, considering our population, but I digress), they are still desperate for blood. I’m considering going to donate later this week – I’ve been pretty much isolated for well over a week now, and while I know it can still appear after 14 days, I feel like I’m low-risk as a donor generally. I will phone our local blood transfusion centre before I go though, just to get the low-down on when / how etcetera.

  13. Cari says:

    One thing that I thought of is if you don’t have children but have friends or family who are now homeschooling/entertaining little ones, you could suggest skyping or facetime with those kids to give the parents a break. You could read them a story, sing songs, do a puppet show, or they could read to you. Something for them to connect to another person in a fun and safe way.

  14. frogoutofwater says:

    In Canada, there are local “caremongering” (instead of “scaremongering”) Facebook groups springing up, as a way to organize requests for help and offers of help. They also are working to share information resources and also initiatives to influence governments for certain kinds of relief (e.g. local order prohibiting eviction).

    In addition to supporting local restaurants, I think it’s very important to support small businesses that provide services and products that you regularly use or purchase. For example, I missed the window for getting a haircut before my stylist rolled down the shutters. 🙁 But I asked him if he’d like me to pay him for my haircuts (which happen every 6-8 weeks) for the rest of the year. He thanked me for the offer but said he thought that others needed the help more. We don’t pay for a lot of other services or products, but if we did, for example, have a regular housecleaning service, we’d be offering to pay in advance for at least a few sessions.

    I don’t have the bandwidth to do this, but I’ve also been thinking about how it might be possible to organize video chats in our community between kids and seniors – kind of an “adopt a senior” program for those who don’t have family members who are already communicating with them.

  15. Sophie says:

    My spouse works in fundraising/development, and has passed along info that food banks (and I am guessing all organizations in general) can MOST benefit from financial donations right now, so even if it is a matter of taking the $10 or $20 extra you might have spent on groceries to then be donated to the FB, I think they’d rather get that in cash than in cans. Many people are donating very similar food items (cans, shelf-stable grains, etc) and FBs also are in critical need of liquid funds to buy other goods (fresh foods, food prep equipment, etc) and/or provide vital financial support to pay their staff during this time. Given all the layoffs and reduced going out to places like senior centers, where free/low-cost food is available, the number of people who will need support from FBs, pantries, and Meals on Wheels is about to go way, way up, so let’s all do what we’d want in a situation like this (which is probably get/give cash!). Thank you Mrs. FW for posting this really important information!!

  16. Blair says:

    I am planning to donate blood as often as possible until the crisis is past. If you check the website of your local blood bank, chances are you’ll find out they’re in dire need. My local blood bank notes that there are no known cases of COVID-19 spreading through blood transfusion, so it’s safe to do and a way you can personally contribute to medical care in your community no matter your profession.

  17. Sharin says:

    Thank you for caring. Deciding to be Isolated at home is itself helping during this challenging time. Doctors and nurses cannot stay home, but we support them when we stay home to avoid being another sick person they need to take care of.

  18. Andrea says:

    The farmers’ markets in my province (Canadian here) have all closed up, but many of them are moving to online orders and delivering once/twice a week. I’m already a part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) but for any other produce/fresh products I’ll be ordering as much as possible through the farmers’ markets network to support our local community.

  19. Selena says:

    I worked a public event this week (civic duty) so I am doing a 99% self-imposed quarantine (sorry, have to drop of tax papers and pick up pet meds). Before I worked the event, I rescheduled all appointments I had within 2 weeks of the event. Both places had NO issue rescheduling when I told them why.
    Once I get past a sore throat (and two weeks) I will probably donate blood if no symptoms. We too are supporting our “regular” local businesses.
    No single one of us can make the crisis go away. But every little thing we can do can make it less severe and (hopefully) shorter in length. The Spanish Flu (misnomer so I am not convinced China is ground zero yet) hit in two waves. If memory serves, wave two was worse than wave one.

  20. Amanda says:

    All such good ideas! I would just add, anyone healthy should consider donating blood. Red Cross is having and predicting huge shortages. You can schedule an appointment, they have good social distancing procedures in place, and hopefully you can combine the donation with a run into town for food and supplies. https://www.redcrossblood.org/

  21. C Morgan says:

    Two things we are seeing/doing:
    Donating Our Marriott Bonvoy miles to a neighbor who’s a medical doctor — she has moved out of her house (3 teenagers there!) and into a nearby Marriott hotel for the next 2-3 months, to protect her family from her & her patients from her family. So, housing for frontline healthcare workers = help.
    Also, converting Little Free Libraries to Little Free Pantries — just leave a can instead of a book!

  22. Shelby Slater says:

    My mom, who lives in a retirement condo, hasn’t left her house for 10 days. She has limited mobility so walks are not really an option. She’s been creative about virtually keeping in touch with family and friends and has a positive outlook. Yesterday she called me and asked if I thought she was being too conservative. Apparently other seniors in her building are carrying on life as normal: card games, visiting, meals and think she’s an alarmist. Crazy!! I told her to stay the course and eventually history would show she was way ahead of the curve on this. If social shaming has to happen, shouldn’t it be more pro-isolation, not less?!

  23. Sue says:

    Thanks for this post! All of your suggestions are what I’m hoping to see more of and be a part of, after this crisis. If we could swing the pendulum back to building communities and caring for one another, we’d all be much healthier. We’re stronger in every way, especially mentally/emotionally when we’re supporting others and being supported. We see too much of the “Hunger Games” mentality in the media with people brawling over toilet paper when most people want to love and care for one another. I hope this experience changes us all for the better.

  24. Sarah says:

    Thank you for softening your hardline frugality for this terrifying, global and local crisis. If you have the means, now is not the time to be stingy with money. Being generous with our giving and buying will go so much further in this current crisis and eventual recession. I’m also a fan of keeping it local – just seems a more efficient use of dollars for leaner businesses that directly impact my community and quality of life.

  25. Allysgrandma says:

    We have an 11 week pregnant daughter who is very sick and her husband is legally blind. DH has been making donations with a bag this morning of carrots and canned tomatoes. Our neighbors know we are food hoarders and they will come to us if needed. We have a local family service center. I’m calling them today to see if they are open and what they need. California just went into a shutdown at midnight so not sure what we can do yet.

  26. John says:

    My wife and I are fortunate to be caretakers for a Little Free library. We converted one of the two shelves to a “Little Free Pantry” and have been stocking it with non-perishables. Neighbors and people who come for books have been contributing to it as well. This has worked out really well for people to contribute in more than one way, benefit in more than one way, or some combination of the two. I would encourage people to seek out Little Free Libraries and their caretakers to see if they are doing the same, and also to look for “Blessing Boxes” which are community donation points. If you can’t get away from home but want to contribute I have seen people put Rubbermaid tote style bins out with signage to indicate that donations are available and welcome.

  27. Vanesda says:

    As a Grandma of 8, the toughest job is not being able to actually hold my Grandchildren, but I’ve made it a point to vedio chat with all of them. At least every other day. Staying in touch and sharing gummy stuff, and enjoy my laughter of their jokes. It’s good for us all and we also make it a point to see how our neighbors are doing. If there’s anything they need. As we go thru this incredible and unimaginable crises , I’m remind myself of Psalms 91. I always look forward to hearing from you . Blessings to all.

  28. Julielyn says:

    Thanks for sharing these! I’ve created a Socially Distanced Happy Hour group on Facebook. We hold daily “happy hours” for folks to connect and chat with others from around the country+globe over Zoom. All are welcome, and feel free to bring along your partners, kids, pets and anything else you’d like! Beverages optional! 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/groups/201181417853117

  29. Kate Ball says:

    I hope this isn’t redundant, but I want to put it out there: if you are healthy and haven’t been exposed to anyone with symptoms (to the best of your knowledge) make an appointment with your local blood bank. Because group events have been canceled, donations are down, and with an already over-taxed Healthcare system, they need all the support they can get. Thank you, Liz, and everyone God bless and be safe.

  30. Laura Benjamin says:

    Social isolation can be really hard on single elders. In the course of a project I called a widowed senior member of a club I’m in to ask her a question. We ended up talking for half an hour. She needed to unload her fears on someone. Materially she has help from her son and daughter-in-law but she’s so lonely. So if you know of someone who is all alone, give them a call occasionally. It might make their day.

    • Amanda says:

      This is really important. It’s easy to focus on physical needs at this time, but everyone (especially seniors) has social and emotional needs that are just important.

      This virus could be circulating for a long time – projections say we may need to keep some form of social distancing until we have a vaccine in 12 – 18 months. Finding ways to connect with people, especially seniors who may be lonely, will be critical for surviving this thing.

  31. Amanda says:

    Yes to all of these things. I’d also like to add one more than I mentioned in my comment on your last post: call your local, state, and federal representatives and advocate for swifter action and better resources.

    Let them know you’re mad that so many of our representatives (especially at the federal and state levels) ignored recommendations from medical researchers and public health officials despite having MONTHS of advance warning that this virus was headed our way. This problem has escalated precisely because they didn’t take action sooner (although some of them were taking care of their own investments while lying to the public about it).

    Tell state politicians that they need to make unemployment benefits and health insurance available to all of the people who are suffering economically right now, including gig economy workers and self-employed people, many of whom don’t qualify for benefits but who have lost their income.

    Pressure your local officials to put systemic resources in place for people who need it, both now and in the future. Neighbors helping neighbors is nice, but it’s not actually a long-term, sustainable solution and this is a long-term problem. Communities should have ways of taking care of vulnerable people, including seniors and kids whose parents can’t afford food.

    Advocate for living wages so that more people could afford to stay home. It’s nice that you can afford it, but most people can’t. Change the system so that they can.

    I know you prefer to avoid politics on this page, but this is as much a political issue as it is a personal one. The coronavirus has made the fact that we rely on a fragile, unequal economic and political system really obvious. We can respond to that by sticking our head in the sand (or focusing just on our families and neighbors, which is nice but doesn’t really change anything). Or we can respond by looking at the problems head-on and using our voices and votes to fix them.

    • Mary says:

      I wrote the Governor (who is also a doctor) and the President regarding hoarding and shortages of goods, especially for those seniors and those with medical conditions who have no way to stock up. I suggested re purposing American industry to produce goods they might not normally produce such as canned foods. That will save jobs and help keep the supply chain going. I also suggesting that they ask retailers to ration foods and things such as TP and not allow hoard buying by a few crazy people or people who are trying to make a quick buck reselling necessities at scalper prices. Hopefully, someone listened.

  32. Aimee Toshney says:

    Great ideas 🙂 I just wanted to add that there are many music instructors (myself among them) who’ve just seen their work evaporate for the foreseeable, so if you’d like to support others to work consider having online music lessons – it looks like the only thing that’ll be keeping most of us afloat for the time being, and could be a great thing to get kids doing while they’re stuck at home! Look after yourselves and each other, be kind, and we’ll get through 🙂

  33. Megan says:

    Thank you for this – and hello from the UK where we’re all grappling with the same thing of course. The creativity and pulling-together-ness of people all over the world is what’s giving me hope that we’ll be ok in the end.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of scheduling online and phone chats – my office is a very tight little family, I’ve worked there nearly ten years, and I’ve found the sudden change in routine really hard, especially as I live alone.

    But… my boss has been brilliant and keeping us all in touch, and today there has been a lot of chit chat and laughter online and video calls that have cheered me up no end – it *almost* feels normal! We’ve been sharing pics of our home ‘offices’, swapping notes on who has the most annoying child / spouse / pet when they’re trying to work. I suspect the next thing will be working out how we can all share a Friday after-work drink remotely!

    Take care of yourself and your family x

  34. Jennifer says:

    I live in a large co-op apartment building and we are all quarantining and social distancing so today while my laundry was drying, I delivered packages from our buildings desk (with gloves and hand sanitizer) to those who cannot or should not leave their apartments. The desk called them and told them their packages would be dropped outside their doors–they wait about five minutes from the time I did the drop off until they opened the door and I washed my hand thoroughly when totally finished. I was glad to get some exercise and to help in some small way.

  35. Alexandra says:

    My yoga class and my church choir are testing out the zoom app, and that’s pretty cool. Tonight, my Friday night group will drink wine with zoom. And two of the local churches use Facebook live.

    • Sandra, Italy says:

      We had barely gone on lockdown here in Italy that my beloved gym started doing 45 min lessons online. Nothing fancy at all, Facebook group, the instructor propping up their cell phone in front of them and off we go! We have 3-4 classes a day and of course you can replay them whenever you wish. My 13-year old and I are doing one every day and laughing our heads off!

  36. Katie Camel says:

    Your local community is a shining example of how a community should be. It’s also how our country used to be. I’m realizing there’s more I can do to help others aside from donating and maintaining my gym membership to ensure those employees continue to receive pay.

    I don’t do much takeout, but maybe I’ll try it to support a small local business. I was planning to frequent my favorite local coffee shop once it resumes operations, so I can ensure it survives. What a scary time for our small businesses and the role they play in our communities.

  37. This is the first time that I have commented on your blog, but thanks so much for this post and for everything you do! My whole family has listened to your audiobook (which is a great thing to do during this time too!!!) and it is fantastic. Inspired to give blood and get a mask sewing circle together now!

  38. Melissa says:

    I joined a Facebook group, Sew to Save! That is working to distribute patterns and organize delivery of masks for hospitals that have run out of masks. It seems they are still getting organized, but once there are clear instructions, I will be sewing for them.

  39. Mary says:

    Just a reminder that many rural communities have inadequate Broadband and wi-fi dead zones and can not use the video apps. Please try reaching out to those people via phone or even in-person. In Virginia, they say to avoid groups of more than 10 people. They don’t say you can’t go visit your neighbors or fiends in person! Just wash your hands and don’t be too physically intimate.
    Also, I wonder what is the heck people are doing with the thousands of rolls of TP some of them have hoarded. Did they spend their entire rent ore mortgage money on TP? Sam’s Club in this area said people bought several palettes of it. HUH? That’s enough to TP a small village. Fist fights and people body slamming others to the ground in the Costco in Richmond over TP were insane. If everyone would be reasonable and at least somewhat frugal and definitely less greedy and wasteful, we would have enough food, TP and other things for all, at least for the next few months.

    • Victoria says:

      In the nicest possible way, can I ask you not to encourage people to meet, even in small groups. And physical intimacy outside of your household isn’t good. There was a gif showing what a difference that makes but annoyingly I can’t find it to post here.

      It’s Mother’s Day today in the UK and I saw the sweetest thing. What was clearly Grandma was in the house with the window open, and the family and granddaughter were on the street saying hi and how much they loved her.

  40. Thank you for this. It’s been crazy, rules about work are literally changing every day.
    I need to go recover my office fish and bring her home tomorrow. Don’t forget office pets and plants!

  41. Effie says:

    Hi MrS FW,

    I just wanted to give you some ideas from a UK point of view. Here the government has a self-isolation rule for any families with a suspected case. I came down with a fever/fatigue on a Monday, and last night I developed a bit of a cough so we are in doors for 14 day. We are supposed to not leave the house for any reason and can’t attend the doctors/hospital unless one of us deteriorates and needs hospitalisation (drip/oxygen etc). Here they have run out of testing facilities so they can only test people who are seriously ill. We don’t know if we have it or not but from a public health point of view, we have to stay home. UK mathematical modelling suggests it’s most important we “possibly infected families” stay home than another group at the early stages of the epidemic.

    We are a young family so it’s not so worrying for us (though I am immunosuppressed). However it can be difficult to do this practically.

    On Thursday we started to run out of fresh food, we are not going to starve but it’s added to the stress and upset of my kidos especially the little one. I have an ample store cupboard (always have done) but I had underestimated the amount of fresh produce I was picking up on the way home from work (veggies, fruit, bread, milk and eggs). In our town it’s impossible now to order any fresh food to be delivered from the supermarkets etc because of panic buying.

    We live in a medium sized town; we moved here for work 5 years ago and don’t have any close friends or family nearby. Our close neighbors are elderly.

    On Thursday evening a lady on my street I had never meet previously put a “how can we help” note through my door with her phone number on it. On Friday she and her teenager kids had dropped off some fresh food for us. We paid for it by bank transfer. We could stay properly self-isolated because of this act of kindness.

    Just wanted to share as I think it’s really important that communities also help the infected to do the right thing and stay home. I know from UK social media here that in a lot of cases like ours; Moms are choosing to leave the house to find food for the kids and are visiting multiple supermarkets/shops even though they could be infected because they have no other way to get food.

    Flatten the curve.

  42. Kim says:

    Donate blood if you can!

  43. Mandy says:

    My dad lives in a residential nursing home is not allowed to have visitors at this time. He lives in CA and I live in OR. I still continue to call him to keep in touch and he appreciates that. My grandkids and I took contact with the elderly a step further-since the elderly in my dads home can’t have visitors and the grandkids wanted to do something to help people in this time we are currently living in-we decided to draw and color pictures to send to all the residents in my dads nursing home. It’s only 5 people so it wasn’t an overwhelming task. I contacted the nursing home director to see if this project was ok before starting on it and I got her approval. It’s a small gesture making these pictures but it helps with the loneliness the elderly feel and helps the younger kids to do something for their community. Anyone can do this project in their community. We are next going to find other nursing homes in our area that we can serve. Just an idea.

  44. Ilse Berg says:

    We are greeting neighbors we’ve never seen before, as everyone is walking the neighborhood (usually, we just see the other dog walkers). Neighbors who are able to run errands for others have posted in the neighborhood social media group. My husband and I are teaching a large group from our congregation to use teleconferencing tools, and he has volunteered to make phone calls to those who are feeling isolated among the congregation. I am going to publish a list of free tutoring resources for kids using remote learning for the first time, and will offer some complimentary tutoring myself as time permits.

  45. Amy says:

    I have called to purchase gift cards from local restaurants that I want to support. I have the cards mailed to me. I paid with my credit card. They get much-needed cash NOW, and I (hopefully) will enjoy some delicious meals down the road if the restaurants are able to survive. I encourage others to do this, too.

  46. Kelly says:

    I have a question – we made year-end contributions to our donor-advised fund through Fidelity (thanks for the information you provided which helped us get that set up!) and now I see that the value is significantly less than what we put it in December. Are you following the same advice as general investments, of leaving money in the donor advised fund until the market rises? I’m struggling with wanting to donate but also not wanting to waste a significant amount of donations if I do a grant now?

  47. Cheryl says:

    I’ve been compiling free and openly licensed activities for K-12 students out of school (https://libguides.library.arizona.edu/disruption/kids). I’ll keep adding to the guide as I find new things. The guide has a Creative Commons Attribution license so it’s free to reuse and customize.

  48. Victoria says:

    I found the gifs that show the value of social distancing! We’re on full lockdown in the UK but I would highly encourage you to keep your distance if your country/borough/province is not yet locked down.

    https://www.stylist.co.uk/life/social-distancing-rules-2-metres-infographic-images-uk-coronavirus/370830?utm_campaign=20200324-TUES-DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_source=stylist-daily

  49. Becca says:

    DONATE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE WEAR. I’m an er doc in Colorado and we are critically low with this supply and not even close to our peak. If your a farmer or construction worker please donate or lend your old n95s or n100s to your local nurse or doctor. They will pay you back and know where to put it to good use. Our ppe protects us and you. Without it, the healthcare workers become sick and can’t do their job and patients get sick from reused ppe. Imagine coming to a hospital and not knowing if those gloves on your body were used on someone else and were cleaned instead of being disposed of. Thank you everyone for your hard work!

  50. alan says:

    You remind me that I have not donated to my local food pantry in a while. Time to get that done! Thanks for your articles (and the pictures).

  51. Danielle says:

    Awesome post, great information. I love the task force idea. My family and I are staying isolated as well. Husband is out of work and I’m working from home. Our boys spend a lot of time outside with the dogs. They’re going a bit stir crazy but better than being sick. Thanks for this great content!

  52. brooklynexpat says:

    One fantastic thing that’s happening in my town in NJ (part of the NYC-based epicenter of this thing currently): volunteers are coordinating large orders and deliveries of food from local restaurants to our health care workers at two local hospitals dealing with COVID cases. We’re supporting vulnerable local businesses AND our amazing doctors/nurses/PAs/hospital support staff at the same time!

    Our mayor also quickly established a local fund to distribute grants on an on-going basis to local businesses.

    • Isa says:

      Thank you for not only mentioning “nurses and doctors”! At the risk of sounding childish and ungrateful (because I AM truly grateful for nurses and doctors!), every other medical professionals seem to be forgotten right now and it’s upsetting. Speaking as a rehabilitation assistant working directly with Covid patients at the hospital, it would be nice if we -and everyone else in the same setting- also would be recognized and thanked.. We are all putting ourselves at risk to help save those who are sick. This is a team effort ; hospitals are employing many valuable and brave professionals, not only nurses and doctors.

  53. Jenny says:

    I have read that people in my community are using the local Buy Nothing Facebook groups for posting needs and favors. It is heartwarming to see the people coming together to support our neighbors.

  54. Thank you for posting this article. That was helpful. Stay home stay safe.

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