The COVID-19 pandemic has taken our society into a place we haven’t been before. We are treading on new territory and making it up as we go along.
I live in Florida, so preparing for natural disasters is part of our summer every year. We know how to prepare, and when disaster strikes, we know how to help. We’ve been through so many storms that we know the protocol. This time around, we don’t have a template. It’s leaving many of us feeling confused and helpless.
I always revert back to the quote by Mr. Rogers that is so powerful, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Personally, as a Christian, I know that I have been called to help. James 2:14-26 (NIV)“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Over the last week as the panicking and quarantining as grown, I’ve been looking for the helpers. Here is a list of the ways I have seen people helping and some ideas that may inspire you if you are looking for ways to help:
- First, you cannot help others if you are not helping yourself. Please follow the CDC recommendations. You are protecting others by following the recommendations. Before looking for ways to help others, make sure you have the proper resources to get through this time. Helping others is not supposed to come at the cost of your health and well being.
- Look after your family and friends. Does everyone in your circle have the resources they need? Do you have a relative/friend that lives alone and has trouble being mobile either due to physical limitations or lack of vehicle? Do they need your help physically or financially to get supplies?
- Do you know someone who is immune compromised or elderly? They may appreciate you offering to go to the grocery store for them to limit their exposure. And this need may go on for weeks or months as COVID-19 continues to spread.
- Do you know someone whose livelihood has been impacted by the many cancellations? In Florida, tourism and conferences make a major impact on our economy. It could manifest in ways as simple as a waitress not getting tips because the restaurant is dead or an Uber driver not having anyone to give a ride. You may want to think of friends or family in these industries that have been impacted and shoot them a message. A gift card to Publix, Wal-Mart or a gas station may bring them a lot of relief as they start worrying about how they will pay for their expenses. Stocking up on two weeks worth of supplies may be more than their bank account permits.
- Many people are finding themselves in a childcare crisis. The school closings create challenges for many people. Offering to watch someone’s children for them while they are at work is a tremendous gift. Many parents do not have the job flexibility to be able to stay home. Do you know a single parent? Check on them. Are you going to be spending the next few weeks of quarantine chilling at home? See if you know a family that would greatly appreciate it if instead of binge-watching Love is Blind on Netflix you would watch Frozen 2 with their child(ren). As someone who will be navigating this school closure fiasco myself, I know this is a tremendous act of love that is greatly appreciated.
- Call your local church (many are filled with congregations of elderly) or your local Meals on Wheels organization. They are probably aware of some shut-ins that could use some help. Whether you help directly or make a donation to an organization so they can provide resources, it goes a long way.
- Consider making a donation to your local food bank. The people who are financially impacted by this will be calling them for resources. They also are usually on the front line of feeding children who depend on the free/reduced breakfasts and lunches at school when school is out.
- Get creative. Open your eyes to needs around you to see if there are opportunities. Sometimes it just takes removing the focus from ourselves and placing it on others to see opportunities for kindness. In a Facebook moms group I’m in, I saw one mother offering all her frozen break milk to anyone having trouble finding formula because so many places are selling out. Now that’s creative and generous. There is no limitation of ways to serve.
The most powerful thing we can do in a time of crisis is focus on what we can control. There are so many things out of our control that it makes us feel helpless, anxious and afraid. Turning our attention to actions we can take to help others will alleviate some of the helplessness. In a world where divisiveness is everywhere we turn, we hold the power to make this a time we look back on how we all came together to help one another in a time of need.