It feels like everyone knows someone who’s jumping in to make masks. But sewing is an acquired, specialized skill, let alone researching what materials are best to use and where to get them right now. It can feel overwhelming trying to figure out how to help.
So we've put together 5 things anyone can do at home to help support the health of their community.
Stay Home & Take Care of Yourself
The most important and talked about step towards “flattening the curve” is of course staying home. This limits your exposure, but also means that we’re not helping to unintentionally spread the virus around.
However, if you’re working from home or not, you should make sure that you’re taking the time to check in with yourself - with your body, mind, and heart. We’re surrounded by a lot of stress, and not getting as much sun or exercise as we might be used to. We’re also not used to feeling so restricted.
Video chatting is fast becoming a staple for many who have the resources, so make sure to stay connected to your friends and family. If you work with a therapist (or would like to), see if they are getting set up to host online sessions. Many gyms and personal trainers are also switching to online platforms, some with free content.
Take Care of Your Community
We see a lot more people on a daily basis than we might really think about (or at least we used to). The person ringing you up at the store. Your colleagues in the elevator at work. The neighbor walking their dog. They haven’t just disappeared because you don’t see them anymore.
Many communities have had spontaneous Mutual Aid groups pop up in the last week, to make sure that vulnerable neighbors get the help they need while still staying safe. Check in with your local Alderperson, community or religious center - they may be able to connect you with groups helping to deliver groceries, sort food donations, and calling neighbors for regular check ins.
Even just going through your phone contacts and calling someone you haven’t spoken to in a while could be a good way to start or end your day.
Only order the (Physical) Products You NEED
It’s super tempting to go online and order a whole new wardrobe, or completely redecorate your place starting with the sofa you’ve been spending more time with lately. Or even to get take out every night of the week.
But if something is coming to your door, that means that someone had to bring it. And package it. And put together your order. That means that multiple people are out and about, and not safe at home. (Yes, it means that they are keeping their job and still have an income. But is a new jacket, if you already have a full closet, worth someone’s life?)
Just be mindful.
Buy Digital Where You Can
The downside to curbing your shopping desires is that it leaves local small businesses vulnerable, as they are less likely to be able to ride out a long dry spell than larger chains (who will still likely close locations and lay off workers to help stay afloat.)
So make a list of your favorite local brands and restaurants and see where you can still support. Many Designers are hosting virtual consultations and workshops. Or switching production to make masks for donations or ‘Buy one, Donate one’. You can also talk to your favorite Designer to commission a custom piece for later… maybe a jacket with a fun collar for all the video meetings you’ll be doing?
And of course, there’s the perennial favorite, The Gift Card. It’s like buying a present for your future self!
Donate What You Can
If you do happen to be fortunate enough to be able to ride things out in comfort, and want to help others, there are many organizations organizing relief funds for the millions who have lost their jobs just in the past week or so. No one person can take care of everything, but even a couple dollars, or hours, from many can help. Here’s just a couple places to start:
Chicago Community Response Fund
United Way Community Response and Recovery Fund
Freelancers Relief Fund
The Red Cross