Community building and support has never been more important than it is right now. Over the course of weeks—and in some communities, days—entire support systems and routines have disappeared. This is our time to shine. As community members, we can step up, fill in the gaps, and make sure everyone gets through this as unscathed as possible. And even as we come to the end of the lockdowns, it will still be a while before things return to “normal”, whatever that ends up looking like when all of this is over.
Not sure how to help? Start with these ideas.
Making Direct Donations
One of the easiest and least time-intensive ways to give back to the community is to donate directly to those in need. When you are grocery shopping, donate $5 to help someone who comes up short in the checkout line. Donate gift cards to be used during senior/immunocompromised shopping hour. Venmo or PayPal a little bit to your local food bank and let them use your money as productively as possible. Check out the wish lists for your local homeless shelters and animal shelters and send an item or two whenever you have the money. These actions add up quickly and have an immediate positive impact on people.
Helping Local Businesses
Local businesses are struggling right now, and unless the situation resolves soon or people’s buying habits change, many risk going out of business. That is why it’s so important for people across the country to support local businesses. If you used to have a weekly family dinner night where you’d go out to eat, order curbside pickup from a family-owned restaurant in your area. If you need art supplies, order from a local arts and crafts store.
Join community groups on NextDoor or Facebook to find out which local businesses are in need of community support and do what you can to help them get through. If you aren’t sure how to help, consider buying gift cards from favorite restaurants and shops. They are essentially an interest-free loan to these businesses to help them get through these challenging months.
Supporting Those Left Out from COVID-19 Outreach
Local government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and schools have done amazing work in reaching out to communities and making services widely available. However, there are always gaps; people who do not speak the local language, do not know how to look into which services are available, or don’t have familial support may struggle to take advantage of these opportunities.
If you speak a second language, find out if there are families in your area you can translate for. Perhaps you can help them sign up for food aid or get their kids signed up for online learning. If you know ASL, volunteer to translate press conferences or other events to ensure that the Deaf community has access to the same information as the hearing community. Help the elderly in your community get online and find out what resources are available to them.
Connecting with Others
Beyond the immediate physical needs of your community, a lot of people are struggling emotionally and socially. While you can’t set up play dates or Mom’s night out, you can set up online hangouts to help people get the social interaction they need. Perhaps a Zoom happy hour can help people take their minds off of current events, or perhaps kids who are missing their friends can play independently while talking each other on Zoom. Consider doing a book read aloud for children who don’t have the parental support they might need during this time. Many people want to participate in activities like this but lack the know-how or motivation to set it up themselves.
Learning the Needs of Your Neighborhood
If you are healthy and at low risk of complications from COVID-19, find out how you can help those in your neighborhood who aren’t in such a good position. For the elderly and immunocompromised, tasks like grocery shopping or picking up meds can seem life-threatening. However, the costs of grocery delivery aren’t always practical for those in this position.
If you’re able, you can take over grocery shopping for neighbors in need and drop off prescriptions. In some neighborhoods, elderly and immunocompromised individuals put up green construction paper in their window when they’re good, yellow when they will need help soon, and red if they have needs that must be immediately met. Consider setting this up in your neighborhood and recruiting volunteers who are also willing to help.
We are all in this together, and by doing what we can, we will come out of this as a stronger and more united community. At Reeves & Mestayer, we are committed to helping those in the Biloxi area. We remain open and are taking every possible precaution to keep clients and potential clients safe. Call us or reach out to us online to learn more.