During COVID-19, We Need To Help Each Other

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In a time when we’re told to stay away from one another, it’s hard to really feel much like caring for others. It feels very much like an every-man-for-himself mentality out there. That’s certainly how I felt at the grocery store this week, when I was approaching the toilet paper shelves, saw one man taking the last few rolls, look at me, see me approaching, and then even still take the last one. I’ll try not to judge humanity too harshly right now. We weren’t designed to be in survival mode. We’ve had the luxury for quite some time now of getting to be civilized, because our basic needs were met. (By the way, they still are, and this panic buying is ridiculous and unnecessary). Right now, people feel their lives are at risk and it’s the only thing they can think about.

 

I know it’s true from a personal standpoint. I haven’t worn anything but pajamas in a week. I’ve tried to sit down many times to create an outline for a new, humorous book I’d like to write but I couldn’t. I just think, “Who cares how I look?” and “Who cares about laughing right now? The world is ending!!!” Alright, I know it isn’t ending. But the point is that, even I have totally given up on putting energy into anything other than survival. But that’s not good. Caring about things beyond that, like community, art, fashion, being empathetic, laughing—those are the things that make us human.

 

Working together is a big part of what makes us human, but right now, we’re told to stay apart. That doesn’t mean that we can’t still help one another. Within the prescribed limits, we can still reach out to each other. Here are ways we should help each other right now.

coronavirus in usa

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Shop considerately

Going back to the story of the man taking the last few packages of toilet paper when he saw me approaching that shelf, let’s not behave like that. Yesterday, my boyfriend went to the store, and he came home with one six-roll package of toilet paper. “Were there more?” I asked him. “Yes, but maybe someone else needs them. And we don’t right now.” Daaaammmn. Not to totally idolize my boyfriend but, can we all start acting a bit more like that right now?

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Share if you have a surplus

If you already did your panic shopping and find yourself with a mountain of toilet paper, food, or water that you couldn’t possibly get to in six months time, share. Ask around to see who is desperate for the stuff. Leave some on the porch for those who need it. It’s okay if you already made the mistake of nearly robbing the store of all it has: it’s not too late to make up for it. Share.

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Shop for an elderly individual

There may be an elderly individual you know who can’t handle the shops right now. Fortunately, some stores are offering early hours designated specifically for the elderly and vulnerable. But what if an elderly individual doesn’t have a car or someone to take them? Are they to take the germ-infested bus? What if they can’t afford Uber? If you know of someone vulnerable right now who would struggle with the chaos of the stores, ask if you can shop for them.

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Show an older person how to order online

You could also show an elderly individual how to shop online. Grocery delivery can be a life saver—literally—for some at this time. If you don’t feel comfortable going near someone who is vulnerable, for fear you’re a carrier, you can talk them through it over the phone. You can email them detailed instructions, accompanied by screenshots, to make it easy. Better yet, ask what they want, and order for them.

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Check in on the lonely

Those living alone. Those struggling with sobriety. Those living far away from society. Recent widows. Recent divorcees. Those currently living abroad, who don’t know anyone where they are, and feel far, far from the comfort of home. Think of the people you know who may be particularly lonely right now, and check up on them.

 

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Send care packages to the sick

If you are aware of someone who is sick, send them care packages. Naturally, you shouldn’t go near them. However, you can order them things that can comfort or aid them right now online, and have those sent to their home. Or you can personally deliver the package, just leave it outside their door, and don’t interact. The infected are probably too exhausted to even order things online for themselves right now.

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Find someone in financial need

It’s not much, but my boyfriend and I have been sniffing around to see who needs a little help. We paid the phone bills of two individuals whose phones were about to be shut off. It’s not a huge expense—we aren’t rolling in money ourselves—but it was a way we could share what we have with someone who has less. And, hey, people need their phones right now—they need to stay connected. Maybe there is a small bill you can pay for someone, if you have the means. Maybe you can send an electronic gift card to a grocery store to someone who cannot afford food right now.

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If you’re recovering, share your story

If you are in recovery, share your story. Post videos and photos. The public needs to know what is happening. For many of us, the virus feels like a myth—we hear of all of these new cases every day, but we don’t personally know someone affected. We don’t know how bad it is, how long it lasts, what it feels like, or, perhaps, how not bad it can be. Please share your story if you’re affected.

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Respect boundaries

If you want to invite just a couple of friends over—following the less-than-10-people rule surrounding gatherings—you may find that some don’t want to come. Some people feel safest just staying in their homes right now. Don’t tease them. Don’t tell them they’re “alarmists.” Respect everyone’s need to do what makes them most comfortable right now.

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Buy gift cards

Here’s a great way to support small businesses that have to shut down right now, or are seeing a massive decline in sales: buy gift cards! It’s a way to funnel money into the business, without putting your safety at risk. When things return to normal, go use your gift card.

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Hire someone if you can

Are you in the position to hire somebody? Think about it. There are individuals out there in dire straits who would be happy to make an extra $30 or $50 a day. Maybe you need someone to redo your website, make a graphic design for you, or tutor your children via Skype or Zoom so you can return to your regular activities.

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Put out uplifting content

The world needs it. Videos of your cute pets doing adorable things. Uplifting stories of people helping one another. A funny video of you dancing. The cute thing your kids said today. If it’s uplifting, share, share, share. We need something to break up all of the doomsday content out there.

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Donate

There are a lot of organizations that could use your help during this crisis. GlobalGiving is sending doctors and nurses to communities in need. Save The Children is working on sending supplies to children affected by the virus, all over the world. Feeding America is doing just what it sounds like, but more than ever for those affected right now, and it needs money. But you can do your own research and see which organizations speak to you.

 

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Offer your services online, for free

What can you offer others right now? Online yoga classes? Guided meditation? Accounting help? Tutoring? Cooking lessons? Offer a class or a session, providing information or services in what you do best, to people who need it right now. It will help you feel useful and help you stay connected to others.

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Be kind to your quarantine buddy

If you have just one and are in close quarters or you have several, don’t get short with one another. Everyone is dealing with a lot right now. Don’t throw a tantrum over who finished the peanut butter. Try not to get too mad if someone accidentally wakes you up. We need to love each other right now—not pick silly fights.

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