5 Ways to Help During the Pandemic
I don’t know about you, but this pandemic has at times tempted me to just hunker down with my family and forget about the outside world. Between moving and crisis schooling, and now facing what feels like an endless summer vacation, it seems there’s little time to think about anyone else.
Yet volunteering and charitable giving are more important than ever as people face unprecedented needs. Even when I fight the urge just focus on myself and my family, the pandemic has changed our ability to serve outside our home. Volunteering in places like schools, nursing homes, churches, and prisons is often not possible, or may look a lot different. Here I’ll share a few creative ways I’ve seen people safely lending a hand.
But to be honest, I’ve hesitated to post this, because I have struggled with making the time. I wish I would have called my family more. I wish I would have been more consistent about involving my kids in service. I have vacillated about how to proceed with the children’s ministry I lead. And I’m never confident I’ve been truly generous when faced with the overwhelming needs in the world.
However, I want to keep fighting the good fight and helping where I can. And I’ve been very encouraged to see how communities have pulled together and shown creativity during this time. So check out these ideas for serving during the crisis, and we’d love to hear the cool ways people are helping out in your community!
Be a Pen Pal
This pandemic is affecting the elderly disproportionately, not just in health outcomes, but in loneliness and isolation as well. We absolutely need to protect the elderly physically, but we also need to look out for their emotional health, because it’s so tied to their overall well-being.
Help the elderly stay connected by becoming a pen pal, phone buddy, or even visiting through a window–all options our church’s nursing home ministry has utilized. If you have young children, draw cards to send to a nursing home.
During our state’s stay at home order, we moved our Bible study online. Sure, online meetings aren’t the same as being face-to-face. But everyone agreed it was far better than nothing. In addition to continuing our study, we were able to enjoy others’ “company” afterward. Whatever type of meeting you might do, meeting online, even if less often, is a great alternative to simply canceling.
The same goes for friends and family. My kids really enjoyed seeing their friends via Facebook Messenger video chat, and my family also enjoyed group Zoom calls when we missed occasions like Easter and my sister’s birthday. At times I felt a real aversion to online meetings, but whenever we did “meet” it seemed to lift everyone’s spirit. Be the one to initiate that positive connecting.
Lately we’ve found safe ways to meet outdoors, and that’s made for a great summer. In fact, we should be outside this much every summer. I think we’ll continue to meet outside with a camp fire in the fall for as long as the weather permits.
As people struggle with unemployment and kids can’t look to schools for meals, now is a great time to serve your local food bank. Whether you give time, money, or food, your donation is sure to make an impact. Try organizing a neighborhood food drive. Even young kids can relate to the importance of food and participate by helping box up food to drop off. Or donate money directly online if you’re more comfortable with that. Lastly, you can contact the food bank about their need for volunteers. Just remember to inquire about their Covid safety measures before you go.
During the “lockdown,” our church organized a care package initiative. The packages were sanitized, personalized, and distributed to neighbors and nursing home residents. They were warmly received; many people expressed their appreciation at the thoughtfulness.
Care packages would be a great way to cheer up just about anyone–a health care worker, other essential workers, a family member, teacher, elderly neighbor, or family with young kids. Snacks, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, books, or small activities such as card games, crosswords, coloring books, or bubbles are just a few ideas of items you might include.
While serving in the local community is so important, let’s not forget that Covid is ravaging parts of the world with far fewer resources and options for social distancing. We recently learned that the pastor of a church we used to sponsor (they are financially independent now) was diagnosed with Covid. This was shocking since the church is in a very remote mountain area of India. The fact that Covid has already reached such an isolated corner of the globe, and one still deeply affected by poverty, is sobering.
If you’re able to donate financially to a charity that provides for emergency needs, now is the time. Many great organizations have created Covid relief emergency funds. We have long-standing relationships with India Gospel League and Compassion International. \
Now it’s your turn: what creative ways have you seen or found to help out during the pandemic?