A famous quote by Fred Rogers states: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” If this quote didn’t hit a nerve for you pre-pandemic, I am sure it has taken on new meaning now. As we have seen over the last few months, the helpers in this moment – the doctors and nurses, the grocery store clerks, the truck drivers, the delivery men and women, the trash collectors, public transportation workers, and many other civil servants – are beacons of light for us all as we continue to live through these uncertain times apart – but in many ways more connected than ever.
For many of us, who are not healthcare or essential workers, we have been hunkered down at home with our families or ‘Quaranteams,’ keeping up with the news and wondering how we can help from afar. Besides making donations to organizations that are on the frontlines (check out this post for a list of FEED’s recommended hunger fighting orgs), here are a few other ways you can lend a helping hand in this moment:
- Host a (virtual) FEED Supper. The longer we are apart, the more I am craving my friends and any excuse to connect, whether it's a virtual happy hour, moving viewing or just a chat. FEED Supper is the perfect way to combine this need for connection with a way to give back. We put together a quick how-to guide for hosting a virtual FEED Supper (spoiler alert: it's so simple). Even now, we believe food has the power to bring many together, and together we can bring food to many.
- Sign up for the Nextdoor app and utilize their new "Help Map" feature to virtually raise your hand to do emergency errand runs or phone call check-ins for at-risk neighbors.
- Sign up as a volunteer on Perfect Strangers (currently available in California, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Boston) and help do pick-up and deliveries in select cities for the most vulnerable in our community.
- Shop small. Here are a few of my favorite local shops in the West Village that I have tried to support from afar in quarantine – Three Lives & Company bookshop is the coziest little bookshop in the West Village. They can now take orders by phone and send you your next read by mail, The Meadow sells delicious fine chocolates, salts, and gifts, Sockerbit sells yummy Swedish gummies, some Vegan and fun home goods, Cap Beauty is a mecca for natural skincare and makeup, Lingua Franca is a long-time FEED friend and partner who sells gorgeous, hand-embroidered sweaters, many of which give back to charitable causes, Magnolia Bakery is a mainstay on Bleeker Street, you can order their yummy banana pudding and cupcakes online.
- Get take-out, buy a gift certificate, or contribute to a Go Fund Me to support your favorite local restaurants. Restaurants were already operating on razor thin margins, so any and all support now is very needed.
- Write a card for a New Yorker in need, through the Food Bank for NYC’s “Make a New Yorker Smile” program. To accompany emergency pantry bags for New York families in need, the food bank is asking for help writing letters of support and encouragement.
- Volunteer your time. There are plenty of safe opportunities right now for volunteers, including some that are even completely over the phone. One such program is the United Nations Volunteers Program. Right now they are looking for folks to help with COVID-19 response, administrative tasks, translating and more. Organizations like the Red Cross are also accepting digital volunteers.
- Make a phone call to an elderly person in NYC. Many of our elderly loved ones are unable to receive visitors right now. Caring Calls is looking for volunteers to have a weekly conversation with an elderly person. This one sounds like it’s a win, win for both participants, you might even make a new, wise friend.
- Make your own masks! Drag out that sewing machine that’s taking up space in your closet and make masks to donate to local shelters or food banks, elderly, or essential workers.
- Send a care package to a friend. This one might not seem like the most important, but a little note or package from a friend or loved one can go a long way right now.