Mahatma Ghandi famously said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Right now, in the middle of this sea of uncertainty that our world finds itself in thanks to COVID-19, nothing rings truer to me. Be the change you want to see. Do good, spread good.
And that’s what I’m trying to do during this pandemic, straight from my living room.
It’s hard to accept the powerlessness that coronavirus has thrust upon us, nor to accept that for most of us, the best and most productive thing we can and should be doing to help is staying home. I believe in following the science and trusting the guidance of our public health experts and scientists who have strongly advised staying in, keep physical distance from others, and washing our hands to the point of chapped skin, so that’s exactly what I’m doing. But still, it hasn’t felt like enough.
Helping others is part of my why and what gets me out of bed every day. I like to feel that I’m being useful, making a positive impact on my world in some way. It’s integral to my ability to stay positive and believe a rainbow truly is coming during challenging periods (and I’d say a pandemic is surely up there there in terms of challenges). Now, more than ever, I’ve felt distinctly like I should be doing something — anything — to be more of a helper in this chaotic and unsettling time, something to allow me to feel more productive while I’m home trying to stay safe, waiting out the storm from my couch.
With that in mind, I’ve taken to doing a few simple things for my community and humanity at large that I can accomplish from inside my house — the seemingly small actions that will hopefully have a mighty outcome, especially if others do the same. Here are three main ones that you can do right now, in your pajamas:
Organize a Blood Drive
There is a critical blood shortage facing the United States right now and donating blood has been designated a safe and essential activity (permitted during this period of social distancing). Although I personally cannot donate, I wanted to find a way for my community to get involved. I reached out to some local breweries to offer the suggestion of using their now unfortunately empty tap rooms and parking lots to host a blood drive with the American Red Cross. A few quick emails later and within a day, one brewery had already agreed and coordinated with the Red Cross to set a date. You can do this with any business in your community classified as non-essential that has a lot of space and had to shutter amidst the pandemic; it doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you are healthy and able to leave the house, don’t forget to make an appointment to donate as well (either with the Red Cross or America’s Blood Centers). The current need cannot be understated, and I’d argue there is no greater gift you can give someone.
For those of us fortunate enough to still be employed but with literally nowhere to go beyond the occasional grocery store trip, there’s a good chance we have extra money burning a hole in our pockets. There are so many people who are in dire need of assistance right now, from our healthcare workers in the trenches, to the restaurant and hospitality industry, to the 30 million children who no longer have a guaranteed meal during the week. Consider donating to relief organizations (like this one and this one) that are trying to get more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to our healthcare providers, individual hospitals (like this one) and hospital systems across the country (like this one) and nonprofits dedicated to ending child hunger (like this one).
The examples linked are just a small few of the many worthwhile efforts you can donate to; you can also check out Charity Navigator or even GoFundMe for ideas on how to offer financial support where it matters most during this trying time.
Think about the issues impacting your community most right now due to COVID-19. Are your local hospitals short on life-saving PPE or patient care supplies like ventilators? Is there a bill in discussion in the Senate that you want your Congressional Representative to consider? Your voice matters — call or email the men and women who represent you at the U.S. Capitol and let them know. (I did so just the other day, regarding the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act.) You can even contact the White House; call the Switchboard at (202) 456-1414.
If you’re not sure who your representatives are in Congress (in the House of Representatives and\or the Senate), you can look them up here. You can also dial the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224–3121.
Doing the above took just a few minutes each, yet the personal reward has lasted far longer. Checking them off on my to-do list almost instantly bolstered my optimism, and empowered me to feel like a part of the solution in a way that stress-baking simply hasn’t done yet. There is power in continuing to #stayhome, and together, we can make an even greater impact.
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