A “Love in the Time of Corona” guide for anyone who wants to make a difference.
If you’ve been feeling helpless or that there’s no real action you can take to help others (besides staying home), get that notion out of your head!
In a follow-up to my last post on the incredible sacrifice and tragic situation facing our country’s healthcare workers, this post contains real things you can do, mostly from your own home, to help health heroes and other front-line workers in their fight against this disease.
I’ve grouped these into two categories: How to help with money or resources, and how to help with time and energy. For quick reading, you can skim the headers to see which ideas most appeal to you.
WAYS TO HELP WITH YOUR MONEY OR RESOURCES
1. Donate to local groups who are making PPE and other needed supplies.
All across the country, there are brilliant people who are coming up with solutions to the lack of available personal protective equipment (PPE) and other materials that our front-line workers direly need.
I’ve begun working with one such group, the SoCal Makers COVID Response Team, who are a group of volunteers using 3-D printing technology to design, create and distribute PPE across California and to other COVID-19 hotspots all over the country.
To donate, visit the team’s GoFundMe page.
To learn more, watch this video interview I did with the group’s organizer, Eric Gever.
I highly recommend this type of donation because it has an immediate impact — and high bang-for-your-buck value.
For example, if you donate $25 to the SoCal Makers, we can use that to create 40–50 protective face shields which are high-quality, reusable and very much needed by medical staff. What’s more, we can get those supplies out to teams on the ground on a daily basis.
It’s not just face shields, either: With the 3-D printing technology, we can create other types of PPE and protective materials as hospital workers and front-line staff request them. So, yeah, it’s a cool thing.
(Full transparency, the SoCal Makers are far from the only team leading this type of effort — if you find a different one you want to donate to, that’s great, too!)
2. Donate disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer to local hospitals, funeral homes and other orgs.
My friend Maddie is a doctor in Chicago, and when I posted on Facebook for ways people can help, her answer was simple: Take all those Clorox wipes and bottles of Purell you’ve been hoarding and bring them to the workers who really need them.
And yes, they do need these supplies more than you do — the longer they can keep themselves illness-free, the longer they can continue doing their jobs and saving people like you. That’s not to say you should part with your only bottle of hand soap, but if you’ve got a healthy supply stored away, please remember that sharing is caring.
3. Buy lunch or coffee for your favorite nurse. (Or grocery store cashier. Or FedEx driver. You get the picture.)
My sister is a nurse, and one of the most touching things I’ve seen during this whole mess is the number of her friends who have simply sent her money via Venmo so she can buy herself coffee or a meal (or let’s be honest, wine). Their treat.
Are these donations saving lives, per se? Not really. But they are major morale-boosters for the people who are braving the outside world every day to do their jobs while the rest of us stay home.
This can also help local restaurants that have stayed open by providing them with new business. (Don’t forget to tip!)
4. Send food to hospitals, food banks or other places that can use it.
Taking the above suggestion one step further, you can order food items in bulk and send them to feed medical staff, front-line workers and the homeless or under-nourished.
My friends Andrew and Victoria suggested this, and one of them highlighted the Facebook group Food4Staff as a great way to accomplish this goal.
Here’s an awesome example of people in LA donating to food banks from their cars:
5,000 expected to show up Friday for drive-thru food bank in Inglewood
The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank will be in Inglewood Friday to give out food to thousands of people struggling to…
I was also talking to my friend Steve who runs a bakery in New Jersey that created Dr. Fauci doughnuts, and we discussed a doughnut donation and delivery campaign. Seriously: Think how much better your day would be with a Dr. Fauci doughnut than without it. (Steve, if you’re not doing this yet — get on it!)
This South Jersey bakery’s ‘Dr. Fauci’ doughnuts keep selling out
Then he noticed that a bakery in Rochester, N.Y., was making doughnuts depicting Anthony Fauci, director of the…
5. Got an extra home, guest house or other living space you’re not using? Let front-line workers stay there.
This idea comes from my friend Bonnie, who had an NYC apartment she wasn’t using and thought it would be great if others who need a roof could stay there.
If you are lucky enough to have a second home or other living space you’re not occupying, it could be incredibly valuable to healthcare workers or others who are at high risk of viral exposure, because those workers may be very afraid of transmitting the illness to their family members. They also may be “visiting” from out-of-town, having traveled from their homes to virus hotspots in order to provide care—and a free place to stay might be just what they need.
6. Donate to the United Way’s pandemic relief fund. (Or donate supplies or time.)
My friend Morgan suggested this. From the United Way’s Los Angeles website: “By chipping in today, you’ll help bring immediate assistance and daily necessities to people living on the streets, people at risk of homelessness, students, individuals, and families.”
Your local United Way should also have avenues for you to donate everyday food and hygiene items people need, and also ways for you to volunteer.
Bonus Tip: If you want to send help to small businesses instead, GoFundMe has a Small Business Relief Fund to which you can donate:
Small Business Relief Fund organized by GoFundMe.org
Local businesses are the heart and soul of our communities. And they are facing a crisis. Social distancing and…
WAYS TO HELP WITH YOUR ENERGY, TIME AND TALENTS
7. Help make masks and PPE.
This one was suggested by many friends, including one in Spain, David, who said (in Spanish):
“Sam, here in Spain the citizens are making masks manually in their homes — some with 3-D printers, and others by hand. Some powerful corporations are also contributing out of their pockets to buy them from other countries, and some companies are donating their masks — scuba diving goggles, motorcycle goggles and other materials that turn out to be better than what the doctors have.”
That’s the kind of movement I’d hope to see here, and with Apple’s announcement that it will produce 1 million face shields per week for medical workers, that’s a great start. That still might not be enough, though (my contacts at the SoCal Makers group said the Apple shields won’t be reusable), so citizen activism must continue to play a huge role in keeping people safe.
Here’s how to get involved in the war effort from a PPE production standpoint:
- Join a volunteer group like the SoCal Makers COVID Response Team.
- Make and sew masks at home. Hospital workers aren’t the only people who need face masks — according to many health experts, we all should be wearing them. So, that means you and approximately 300 million other Americans need something to cover your faces when y’all go outside.
- If you can’t sew, do what my friend Quinn did: “I gave my friend’s crafting circle some money for supplies,” she said.
8. Use your creative abilities for good.
This is one I have experience with: My work with the SoCal Makers group, to this point, has involved creating a website and using my knowledge of marketing to try and amplify the team’s impact.
There are lots of different ways to apply your own skills in useful ways—just use that big brain of yours!
For example, my coworker Teresa shared this link to the United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives; through it, the UN is calling on creative professionals (or amateurs) to translate important public health messages into “work that will engage and inform people across different cultures, languages, communities and platforms. The shortlisted work will reach everyone, everywhere.”
They have a full list of different ways you can contribute; the submission deadline is April 14. Link below:
United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives — help stop the spread of COVID-19
You have the power to change the world. The UN needs your help to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). We are…
9. Put pressure on politicians to act.
If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a bit of … shall we say … miscommunication about how to get the right supplies to the places where they’re needed. (If you want to really feel frustrated about the whole thing, read this eye-opening article in The New Yorker.)
One way to try to expedite this process is to call your local, state and (especially) federal representatives to put pressure on them to deliver.
Another way is to sign petitions like this one, which my friend Austin shared with me: “Support the COVID-19 Pandemic Physician Protection Act (CPPPA). It takes less than 30 seconds to sign, folks.
10. Volunteer — especially if you discover you have immunity.
I’ve mentioned a few ways to volunteer already, so here I’ll talk specifically about the need for people who are immune to this virus.
Volunteering will become particularly important once we learn conclusively whether people can get COVID-19 twice, or whether they have immunity after recovering the first time.
If people can develop long-term immunity, volunteers who are immune will be incredibly valuable. Immune citizens would be able to perform all kinds of tasks which would be extremely risky for other members of the community to do.
Once antibody/immunity tests become available, please take one if you think you might already have had the illness. And if it turns out that you are immune, please join the fight.
11. Donate plasma (if or when you have immunity).
If you are immune, you will also likely be able to donate plasma—which could likely be used as a life-saving treatment for others.
So, stay tuned. If plasma becomes one of our main weapons for fighting this thing, then each of us who gains immunity will have a responsibility to help others in this way.
Following up, my friend Mel sent me this link shortly after I initially posted this article. It’s an example of how to donate plasma, with helpful info:
COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Donation
If you have fully recovered from COVID-19, please consider donating plasma. You may have antibodies in your plasma that…
12. Help vulnerable populations.
It is an unfortunate fact that the most underprivileged among us are also most likely to be hit hard by COVID-19. Poorer communities (which tend to disproportionately be communities comprised largely of People of Color and immigrants) lack the resources, healthcare, access to testing and general ability to prevent or treat COVID-19 infection that communities which tend to be whiter and more affluent usually have.
So, these are the communities that really need our help.
In a recent episode of the Daily Matters podcast which I co-produce for Clio, our CEO Jack Newton interviewed New York Times bestselling author and prison reform advocate Shaka Senghor. (For starters, I recommend listening because Shaka is incredible, and his messages for dealing with life in isolation are well worth hearing.)
Also, during the episode Shaka lists three organizations that are fighting for people who are incarcerated — and who therefore are at greater risk of being affected by COVID-19.
The organizations Shaka asks us to support are:
REFORM. | Reform Alliance
Our goal is to move out at least a million people who are unjustly stuck in the criminal justice system within the next…
#cut50 - Cutting Crime & Incarceration in all 50 States
cut50 is a bipartisan effort to cut crime and incarceration across all 50 states. We bring together leaders impacted by…
Anti Recidivism Coalition
ARC serves people coming home from incarceration who want a community that will support their change and success…
13. Call people.
No, I don’t mean your family members or friends, although calling them is important, too. I mean calling the people you know who work in healthcare, or who have mental health or addiction issues, or who are infected by COVID-19 or have loved ones who are infected by it.
My friend Ben suggested prayer as a way to help, and though the skeptic in me initially felt that would be unlikely to help, on second thought I wondered, “What if you could call people who are on ventilators or on their deathbeds—to pray with them, or just talk to them when their families can’t visit?”
These kinds of calls count as really helping because the people on the other end of the line need your love and care. Never underestimate the power of showing up in someone’s life at the right time, even over Zoom.
14. Stay home.
Hopefully, you know this one already. (And you better have washed those hands.)
15. Spread the word—and take action!
One of the reasons I’ve highlighted my friends in this post, other than to thank them, is to show the impact that they might be having simply because they responded thoughtfully to my post. It took very little of their time or effort, but if their suggestions now reach a lot of people, it can have a snowball effect.
My final asks of you are:
- Share this article with others, so they can be inspired to help.
- Pick at least one item listed in this article, and do it—today!
If we each do just one thing listed above and get just one other person to do the same, we can make a giant difference. That’s how major collective efforts start: With a few people motivating a whole lot more.
In the words of Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
P.S. If you have other ideas or suggestions for how people can help that aren’t listed above, let me know! I can always add them to this post or do a follow-up piece.
Please RECOMMEND (clap) and SHARE this story, and always Keep It Movin.
Read other posts from the “Love in the Time of Corona” series by Sam Rosenthal:
- Love in the Time of Corona — Day 1
- Days 2 + 3, Purgatory
- Day 4, Powerless
- Days 5 + 6, On the Necessity of Everyday Heroism
- Days 7 + 8, Rose-Colored Realism
- Days 9 + 10, Stir Crazy
- Days 11–13, Turning the Corner?
- Day 14, A Down-and-Up Kinda’ Day
- Days 15 + 16, Thanks, Health Heroes