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10 Ways to Stay Connected and Help Your Community During COVID-19

As many are stuck at home in isolation, many others are working day and night to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic and serve communities everywhere. For those who are not in a role where they are making or delivering food or supplies, helping save lives or working within the scientific community toward a viable treatment option, it can be challenging to feel how you make a positive impact. While medical experts assure how staying at home and keeping socially distant plays such a crucial role in the fight against the spread, people are still turning for additional alternatives on how else they can help.

We’ve highlighted some of the world’s leading organizations that you can help support, who are working towards relief of the pandemic, as well as methods to stay as connected as possible during this time, considering how much social interaction plays such a critical role in our mental health and well-being.

1. Donate Blood

Hospitals and blood donation centers including the American Red Cross are facing a severe blood shortage right now. Find a drive near you and search for opportunities by visiting the American Red Cross today. For an indefinite period of time, the American Red Cross will be looking for blood and platelet donations to stabilize blood supplies and keep nearby hospitals as stocked as possible. Even in areas with shelter-in-place declarations, individuals are being asked to donate as a part of critical infrastructure.

2. Pick up groceries and check on elderly neighbors

If you know anyone who is elderly or has a compromised immune system, you can help by offering to pick up groceries for them in effort to help limit their exposure to public areas. Many grocery stores also offer to pick-up and grocery bagging services at a small fee. As an extra measure of caution, be sure to handle groceries for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems with caution, including wiping down and sanitizing bags and packages after selecting them and before dropping them off. For best practicing on keeping groceries free of contamination, check out this video from Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen on Safe Grocery Shopping during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In addition to picking up groceries, older people are also at risk to even greater mental health implications from social isolation since they are the most vulnerable and kept from having regular visitors in assisted living communities during this time. Connecting or arranging virtual visits with them can help lift their spirits and keep them in better health as they face the greatest impacts of social distancing compared to many other populations.

3. Stay connected and healthy with your friends, family and neighbors through a fitness accountability group

Staying healthy is so crucial when we are faced with pandemic, yet it’s the easiest time to slip out of healthy habits and routines, especially while you are in isolation. Start a fitness group with friends, family and/or colleagues to help keep each other on track with daily Fitness Challenges and videos. For inspiration, head over to TFLiving’s Instagram page @tfliving to see some of the challenges available to our communities through our mobile app, as well as other motivational fitness inspiration.

4. Spread and share humor everywhere

It’s been commonly sighted that laughter is the best medicine. During this period of high uncertainty for so many people, it’s so important to share laughs and promote positivity wherever you can. While some people aren’t sure if it’s an appropriate time for jokes, it’s been shown throughout history that in times of crisis, laughter can be a powerful and effective coping mechanism. Time Magazine recently shared this piece around how humor helps the brain relax and why people around the world are using it more than ever to cope during this time.

5. Donate or volunteer for your local food bank

Hard-hit communities everywhere are in need for food donations, and you can play a supporting role by donating items from your pantry at over 200 locations nationwide. You can also start a Facebook group to raise awareness and help arrange pickup and drop off locations throughout your local area. To search for the nearest local food bank to your location, visit FeedingAmerica.org.

6. Help raise money for first responders by joining iHEART radio’s living room concert for America

Artists including Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Camila Cabello, Dave Grohl, H.E.R., Mariah Carey, Sam Smith, and Tim McGraw are all joining forces from their living rooms to give you live streaming of their performances. Watch live shows hosted by Elton John and presented by iHeart Radio and FOX on the iHeart radio’s YouTube channel here, including all the spots below on the organizations the initiative is helping to assist. Relief funds go to Children Of First Responders Organization as well as Feeding America.

7. Donate to direct relief

One of the greatest challenges facing doctors and nurses at this moment is the lack of medical safety equipment including protective gloves, masks, ventilators, gear and more. Direct Relief is one of the top organizations in the world that is working to raise funds towards equipping medical professionals with the resources they need to help the most vulnerable populations at this time. You can learn more about their organization and donate directly to this organization through their website, DirectRelief.org.

8. Support small business as much as possible

By picking up from any restaurant still open, or by making purchases particularly to small businesses, you are helping support your local community as well as the economy during a time where many are in a hard spot.

9. Help feed children dependent on school lunches

Because of school closures nationwide, many children who relied on subsidized school lunches are in need of meals that are not easily provided from home. Many districts have designated specific schools or off-site locations to keep meals coming for those in need, dependent on healthy and able volunteers who can cook and prepare food that can then be made available for parents to pickup. To see what locations may be offering this in your community, contact your local school district.

10. Support the CDC Foundation’s emergency response fund

As the CDC works around-the-clock to respond to the current pandemic, their relief fund goes not only towards all their current efforts in this fight, but also to future prevention and response of disease crisis. CDC foundation funds are currently being allocated to help aid state and local health departments, support communications, logistics and data around critical supplies, community response and treatment of COVID-19. Funds also help with initiatives toward programs that join experts together to collect and analyze data and develop plans to respond to the possibility of future outbreaks. You can learn more about the CDC Foundation by visiting their page on COVID-19 response page, or donating here.

Catherine Rotman