10 Ways to Support Your Neighborhood During COVID-19
Howdy neighbor! Like you, we’ve been spending a lot of time in our neighborhoods recently and it got us thinking about how we can support the people in them. Valpak has been helping communities thrive for over 50 years, and never has it been more important than in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking for ways to do all you can for your neighborhood while sheltering in place?
Here are 10 ideas for helping your neighbors out and making your community stronger, even from six feet away:
- Support the Supporters: They’re essential for a reason! While first responders are keeping us healthy and safe, employees at grocery stores and restaurants are keeping us stocked up and fed. When you have to go out for supplies, follow all social distancing and hygiene protocols, be patient with workers and thank them for their diligence. The pandemic and heightened consumer demand is making their job more challenging than ever, and showing them kindness will go a long way to helping them through this. The same goes for workers when you opt for touch-free delivery or curbside pickup: follow the rules, be understanding and tip generously if you’re able! If you’re looking for more ways to support employees of local small businesses, check out these super tips.
- Group Activities: Movie night doesn’t have to be cancelled! Give your neighbors something to do and some much-needed socialization by arranging a group watch session with Netflix Party or Kast. With chat functionality and lots of entertaining extras, it’s a block party binge session waiting to happen. Feeling more literary? Start an online book club and share your thoughts via Zoom. You can even select an audiobook so participants can listen while they stay active on walks. Other options to keep the neighborhood engaged: organizing group lessons you can give for free (yoga, anyone?), virtual happy hours, daily group challenges and more. Your movements might be limited, but the possibilities to feel connected aren’t!
- Pet Therapy: If you’re struggling with being confined for most of the day, you now know what many shelter animals feel. With lots of states essentially shut down, some animal shelters are overwhelmed and need help. This is the perfect time to foster a pet, when you can give them the attention, stimulation and love every one of them deserves. Bonus: animals provide hours of entertainment, can encourage you to keep moving and help you feel less alone. Contact your local animal shelter or rescue group to find out how you can help. Who knows, you may even end up with a new best friend! Not in a position to foster? Consider donating much-needed supplies to get them through this challenging time, or volunteer to walk dogs for high-risk individuals who don’t feel comfortable leaving the house. Be sure to follow all CDC recommendations for safety if you go this route.
- Beautify the Neighborhood: If your space looks better, you’ll feel better! This has spurred tons of home improvement projects across the country and the same goes for your neighborhood. Do everything you can to keep your community spaces looking great for those afternoon walks; you’ll cheer up your neighbors and stay occupied at the same time. Looking for ideas? Write some inspirational messages on the sidewalk outside of your house, offering words of encouragement and hope to passersby. Whimsical drawings work too, and this is an ideal project for kids to showcase their creativity. Feeling festive? Break out the holiday lights just a little early this year and ramp up the cheer a notch. When the kids are done with the sidewalk chalk, help them make decorations for your yard, or to gift to neighbors (safely).
- Quaranteam. Form a quarantine response team to stay organized during the lockdown. Use social media and collaboration apps to maintain contact lists for neighbors, reach out to at-risk/elderly community members and more. Make flyers encouraging those who need help to contact the group and post them in public places around the neighborhood. Divvy up tasks like shopping, making care packages, yard work, etc. to ensure that the most vulnerable among you isn’t struggling. Working together and supporting one another is what made your community strong in the first place, and it’s what will help you all get through this.
- Share Supplies. If you need to restock supplies and are in a position to buy extra, consider purchasing items to donate to those who can’t afford them or are unable to leave their homes. In a new take on “egging” and “toilet papering” homes, some neighbors are leaving these supplies (fully intact, please!) on neighbors’ porches – what a sweet practical joke! Another cute idea is to swap the books in Little Free Libraries around your neighborhood for non-perishables, making them Little Free Pantries. The possibilities are truly endless, and you’re sure to brighten your neighbor’s day.
- Stay Connected: Even if you’re not up for many group activities, you can still help your neighbors stay sane, informed and entertained. Consider sending a virtual gift card for streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, or an Amazon gift card they can use to purchase movies/TV shows digitally. If you know a neighbor who can no longer afford internet access or did not have it before the pandemic, consider sharing your password with them. Being able to access sources of entertainment, news and social interaction can make a huge difference in their experience during lockdown. You can also send daily or semi-daily texts to neighbors, checking in to see if they need supplies, someone to talk to or another type of support.
- Don’t hesitate, Donate! Extra canned goods in the pantry? Give them to the foodbank. Saving money by not going out? Donate it to an organization that benefits the most vulnerable. Healthy? Donate blood. In times like these, every little bit helps, and we all know people in our neighborhoods who have been impacted financially by the pandemic. Reach out to non-profits in your community to get started; you’ll be amazed at how far your support can go!
- Stay Informed. These are confusing times, and with things changing so rapidly, it’s sometimes difficult to stay on top of the latest updates. First, stay calm. Then, stick to trusted sources that are experts in this field, like the CDC. While it’s important that you be in the know to protect yourselves and family, it’s also crucial for keeping your neighborhood healthy. Just like you don’t want to spread a virus around your community, you don’t want to spread misinformation and risk unsafe practices – or panic. Instead, always err on the side of caution, avoid spreading information that you didn’t get from a reputable source and keep your neighbors focused on staying healthy and positive.
- First Responder Heroes: Healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters and more – they’re working on the frontlines of this pandemic at great personal risk to themselves. Aside from their physical health, they’re facing challenges that some of us may not be aware of, including time away from their families, working in emotionally stressful environments, being unable to maintain needed supplies at home and so on. Anything from this list that you can do, from gift giving to dog walking to lending emotional support, you can do specifically for a first responder. Keep them in your thoughts and at the top of your list of people to check in on. They need your encouragement and support to help them help you!
These are some good starting points, but remember: Any act of kindness, generosity or connection you can offer another human at this time will be greatly appreciated. Adversity can really show us what’s important, and when it comes to your neighborhood, it’s only as healthy as the people in it! Valpak will keep working to “Open the Neighborhood” by bringing savings to consumers and promoting local businesses; with your help, the thousands of neighborhoods we serve across the country will come out of this stronger than ever before.