I believe most people are good.
And I also believe that most people want to do good in the world.
However, it can be really hard to know how to get started. In this particular moment in history, many families are already feeling a huge financial pinch. While I certainly hope that we’ve put ourselves in a place where we can continue our regular monetary donations, I realized that there are plenty of people who are looking for other ways to care for their communities.
I want to share what our family is already working on doing to support our community during the COVID-19 pandemic (Spoiler: There is no sewing happening – my version of a mask would not help anyone!), and then I hope you’ll join in with your own ideas in the comments.
Shelter In Place
It’s now a mandate in Illinois, and we’ve been social distancing and self-isolating for about a week longer than the mandate. I know that there are skeptics online, but I am a rule follower through and through. Plus, too many people I love are high risk, and too many health care workers are using social media to make desperate pleas for us to stay home.
Because we are able to work from home, sheltering in place isn’t costing us anything other than our sanity. 8 hours a day of e-Learning x 2 teachers + one toddler = one heck of a math problem. (However, I do realize that it can be very costly to people who are deciding between going to work and following this mandate.)
Leave Small Business Reviews
Much to my delight, so many people in the personal finance community are walking back their strict decrees to never order takeout in an attempt to save their favorite small businesses. Takeout and gift cards are great options to show your support if you have spending money.
However, there is a fantastic way to show your support that costs you ZERO dollars: Write reviews online.
My dad owned his own auto shop for over 30 years, and he weathered the Great Recession. It was *not* pretty. But I can tell you one thing that means so much to small business owners is referrals. Leave ratings on Yelp, post about your favorite small businesses on Next Door, share their Facebook page. Whatever you can do to call attention to your favorite shops is huge. The Internet is forever so these reviews can entice someone to support now or months later.
Contact Customer Service
Next, I’m going to tell you to ask to speak to manager. No, really! (Does this make me a Karen? If this makes me a Karen, I’m OK with it!)
I’ve been really torn with how to support health care workers and other people on the front lines (pharmacists, truck drivers, grocery story clerks, you name it!). Besides staying put, I also continued something that I started last month.
When a relative was in an end-of-life facility, I filled out comment cards for every staff member who made her smile. But I only sent a few emails following up on the comment cards. Thinking about all the staff members who are supporting the elders in our community reminded me to continue this. Even though this probably the last thing on anyone’s mind, I know they’ll come back to the emails eventually (or I can resend it). I actually got a reply from my relative’s dietitian’s supervisor, indicating that not only would she add a copy of my email to the dietitian’s HR file, but she was also entering her in a $100 cash monthly raffle!
I plan to continue this for Target employees and grocery store clerks as well.
Chalk Art & Window Hunts
I am not a fan of Next Door generally, but I find myself loving it lately. Our neighborhood already canceled the yearly Easter egg hunt in the park, but we are more than making up for it. Every few days, someone posts a challenge where you hang something in your window. Then, when kids (and adults!) go for walks, you try to spot them all. We’ve already done shamrocks, rainbows, and emojis.
Another thing many of us have started to do is decorate our sidewalk with chalk. It’s really something to walk around the block and see positive messages, pictures, hop scotches, and so much more. We actually had the idea this weekend to bring our chalk with us on a walk. When we passed the house of someone HP normally plays with, we left them a message on their sidewalk (and yes, we washed our hands first and we made sure to keep some serious distance from their house just in case!). It snowed not long after and wiped away our messages, but one neighbor already texted us a big thank you and said his kids plan to take our idea on their next walk, too!
Donate Any Unneeded Extras
I believe our supply chains will hold out, so we aren’t doing any kind of hoarding. We do, however, have two weeks’ worth of food and all the medicine and cleaning supplies we need. That means we don’t have tons to donate, but we do have some.
I’ve seen desperate pleas for medicine, hand sanitizer, and so much more. I’ve already offered up our unopened bottle of Children’s Tylenol to a neighbor. We have a bottle of Kids’ Motrin anyway, and I do have faith that stores will start to restock these things before we need it. I also realized we had more peanut butter than jelly, and I found some hand soap that we don’t use. I’ve dropped those things off at our town’s micro pantry.
While I do not think anyone should put themselves in dire straits ever, I do think that many of us can find ways to donate extras–be it food, home goods, blood, time, or smiles.
My toddler doesn’t really understand what is going on. As far as he knows, the park is broken and it’s still not Friday yet so he can’t see his grandparents. He knows his routine is definitely off, but we are trying to look on the bright side. The other day, he helped me make cupcakes. Now, he asks for us to sing him Happy Birthday every night when we eat one. It’s the most ridiculous new ritual (his birthday isn’t until July!), but it makes us all smile and laugh. We even FaceTime his grandparents into the song sometimes.
Also, I have to give a huge shoutout to GovWorker at Government Worker FI who mailed HP a care package filled with items from his kiddos. It made one un-birthday celebration extra special.
So Tell Me…Have you thought of any ways to help that are free or inexpensive?
PS – I’m going to do a small giveaway later in the week to hopefully brighten someone’s day. So check back!