Earlier this week, we asked our readers to search your homes and closets for any rain ponchos or other supplies that our nation’s hospitals and medical workers are in desperate need of.
The response was overwhelming. So many of you guys reached out to us asking for more ways you could help, which in turn inspired us to compile a list of resources and additional means for supporting our country’s heroes through these times.
Many of us aren’t on the front lines of this crisis, but almost all of us know at least one person who is. Here’s how you can make a difference in the lives of those who are out there risking theirs.
Donate PPE Supplies Including Masks, Rain Ponchos, and Cleaners
The medical community is experiencing a critical shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment). Because this is transmitted by droplets in the air, doctors and nurses are using anything they can to prevent being exposed. Many are literally treating patients while using brown paper bags and bandanas to cover their mouths. Others are having to re-use their disposable masks which can’t be sanitized properly and aren’t offering adequate protection.
These medical workers know that if they’re infected, they’ll have to be self-isolated which will take them out of the fight. The vast majority of doctors and nurses are still taking care of patients with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and other illnesses. One of the biggest fears these hospital employees are facing right now isn’t contracting the virus themselves, but spreading it to their patients with these other conditions which make them especially susceptible and high-risk.
If you have any masks, gloves, safety glasses, surgical scrubs, gowns, or extra cleaning supplies that you can spare, please drop them off at your local hospital. The people who are fighting this are the ones who need this stuff the most right now. The majority of us can stay home and safe without it.
Even if you have versions of these items that aren’t normally considered medical-grade, your donation is still important. Recently, Disney donated 150,000 plastic rain ponchos to MedShare, a humanitarian aid organization that can distribute them to hospitals in need. That’s because rain ponchos are now being used as a substitute for disposable gowns worn by medical professionals. Traditional resources are so limited, that any protection is better than no protection.
You can also make your own face masks at home to donate to hospitals. According to the New York Post, Jo-ann craft stores are giving away free kits every day. These include all the materials and instructions you’ll need to sew your own. You can even drop off the masks at their stores and they’ll donate them for you.
If you don’t know how to sew or own a sewing machine, there are several no-sew face masks as well. Many won’t require you to purchase any additional materials, although 100% cloth fabric is needed.
There’s a critical shortage of blood right now. With people staying at home, less are donating blood, meaning on top of lacking critical supplies, they’re running low on life-saving blood. Since giving blood will require going to a public space, we don’t recommend putting yourself unnecessarily at risk, especially if you’re over the age of 65 or have any pre-existing medical conditions. But if you’re comfortable with giving blood, it is very needed right now.
Make sure you take any and all safety precautions if you chose to donate. You can contact your nearest blood bank to ask what protocols they’re using. Red Cross donation centers are doing what they can to practice keeping a safe distance, and are following the highest standards of safety and infection control.
Click here to find the nearest American Red Cross blood drive. If your state has issued an order to stay at home, it IS okay to leave your house to donate blood.
Make a Charitable Donation
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy working with the World Health Organization has created a Response Fund. Any amount you give will go towards helping the containment efforts, response, and recovery activities for those affected by the virus and for the responders. Also, consider giving to organizations that are trying to minimize the impact of this crisis on the lives of those being directly impacted such as No Kid Hungry and Feeding America.
To help the people in your community, you can also donate food and supplies to your local food bank.
Buy Someone a Meal
If you know of someone on the front lines, Venmo them some money for lunch, a coffee, or just some small token of your appreciation to show you’re thinking about them.
You can even order them dinner to be delivered to them when they get home so they don’t have to cook for themselves after a long day of helping others.
If you have neighbors who are elderly or have health or mobility issues, find out how you can help them get their groceries so that they don’t have to leave the house. This could mean shopping for them when you buy your stuff, helping them to set up an InstaCart account, or teaching them how to use curbside delivery.
Cover Transportation Costs
Since many of us are no longer commuting, see if you can help someone who IS still working in the world outside cover their transportation costs.
If you once used mass transit, donate your monthly train or bus passes to cover someone else’s fare. Many doctors and nurses are required to pay for their own parking, especially in urban areas, so call your local hospital to see if you can cover their gas or parking expenses.
Help Them Take Care of Their Families
One of the best ways you can support the people on the front lines is by supporting the people they care about. Help them with buying groceries, childcare, eldercare, or anything else you can think of to ease some of the stress of their normal home lives.
Advocate for Hospital Workers
If you have a platform, now’s the time to use it. Use your social network, your people skills, and your ingenuity to help. Maybe you don’t have any masks or gloves at your home, but maybe someone you know or indirectly know does. Many of us use social media to connect with one another every day, so why should it be any different now?
Click here to find out how to contact your local Senator to tell them the medical community needs more supplies then they’re receiving. You can also help the American Nurses Association send a message to Congress to increase personal protective equipment for nurses by signing this petition.
A small act of kindness goes a long way these days. We know we’ve already talked a lot about medical workers, but there are many other people on the front lines. For example, many grocery store employees are trying their best to keep the shelves stocked but they’re still facing rude customers who are mad there isn’t toilet paper or flour. THEY are out working when many of us can stay home, so try to remember to practice kindness.
Thank them next time you see them and if you feel so inclined, you can go to the customer service counter and ask to speak to the store manager. See if they’ll make an announcement over the loudspeaker so that everyone can stop for a few seconds and applaud these hard-working individuals.
Trash collectors, mail carriers, and other food and package delivery service groups are helping everyone everyday stay home and stay safe. Think about leaving a sign by your door showing your appreciation. You can even enlist your kids to draw one for you. Chalk drawings are also a great way to show your family’s gratitude or put a smile on a neighbor’s face.
If you know of anyone who is alone right now or who suffers from depression, please check-in with them. Make sure they’re doing okay. A Skype or FaceTime call might mean the world right now.
Don’t Panic Buy Stuff
While leaving some toilet paper or diapers on the shelves isn’t normally a heroic act, in today’s society it is. If you can afford to buy several months of supplies at one time, it doesn’t mean you should.
Many people only make enough money to buy what they can use in a week or two. They can’t stock up meaning when they go to the store and there’s no TP, they’re out of luck. Buy only what you need and leave the rest for others.
Listen to the Pros
Stay home. The people who are in the trenches fighting this virus right now need all of us to stay in and stay safe. One of the best things you can do right now is nothing. Stay home and limit your contact with others, otherwise, you’re only adding to the problem.
Be sure you’re getting your information from trusted, credible sources. Listen to doctors, scientists, and the advisement that comes directly from the CDC. Also, if you want to keep your spirits up, limit the time you spend looking at the news. Check it in the morning and the evening, but otherwise, spend the rest of your day taking care of yourself and those around you.
This situation is only temporary. Life will go back to normal someday. Instead of seeing this as a time of crisis, look at it as an opportunity to be there for each other. Let’s join forces and be the humanitarians we’ve always dreamed of being. Together, we’ll all get through this.