Even if you’re not a healthcare hero or essential worker, there’s plenty you can do to lend a helping hand during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Lisa Milbrand
July 16, 2020
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You’ve clapped for healthcare workers, you’ve stayed home and watched what feels like every one of the best shows on Netflix, and you’re starting to get a tan line on your face from wearing your masks. But unless you’re one of those essential workers, you might feel like there hasn’t been a whole lot you can do to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic, even as the number of cases breaks records across the country.

But don’t worry—even small acts like tipping your delivery driver generously or giving Grandma a call can be a big help in keeping the world safe and sane during this unprecedented time. If you’re feeling helpless today, there are 14 different ways you can help make life during the pandemic a little bit better for those around you.

Consider getting tested to see if you’ve been exposed to the virus—and if you have, you can donate plasma to help some of the people with severe coronavirus cases recover. The Red Cross is currently seeking people who have recovered from the virus to donate.

With many areas currently experiencing blood shortages, even people who haven’t been exposed to coronavirus may want to consider donating right now to help with other emergencies.

Let your representatives know how you feel about the current coronavirus response, and share your thoughts on additional assistance that might be needed for your community to recover.

Many communities are continuing to treat hospital workers and other essential workers to free meals or PPE. Look for local funds that pool resources, or go ahead and order up pizzas, muffins, or other treats to be delivered to the staffers at your local hospital, fire department, or other community organization.

Studies are showing that even homemade cloth masks play a significant role in reducing the spread of the virus. When you’re going out, mask up—and encourage everyone you know to do so, too.

Personal protective gear is still in short supply in some places, and there are plenty of people who can’t afford to make or buy masks to keep themselves safe. You can find some organizations looking for donations—homemade or purchased—at Deaconess and Get Us PPE.

RELATED: 7 Ways You Can Help Others During the Coronavirus Crisis

It’s always better to be safe than sorry—so if you have any of the symptoms associated with coronavirus, such as a cough, shortness of breath, or a fever, it’s best to stay home and stay away from your loved ones. (And get tested!)

Even as restaurants have opened, they’ve struggled to thrive under the necessary limitations on service. Order from your favorite local places and take your meals to go so you can limit contact and the potential for infection. (Remember, even if you’re taking your dinner to go, tip very generously!)

RELATED: Small Businesses Need Support Right Now—Here Are 10 Ways to Shop Local When You're Stuck at Home

Food banks have been struggling to keep up with the unprecedented need, and with the $600 extra federal unemployment insurance due to end in a few weeks, more families may have a hard time keeping food on the table very soon. Donating to your local food kitchen will help ensure that families who need the assistance can get it. (And it’s a great place to offload any surplus canned goods, dried pasta, and toilet paper you have from your early-pandemic stockpiling.)

Sharing food is caring. Whether you box up baked goods as a sweet snack for first responders or surprise a neighbor or loved one with their favorite dish, it’s a nice (and, it seems, relatively low-risk) way to show you care.

Offer to grocery shop or run errands for people who may need to limit excursions to avoid putting themselves at risk. If you don’t know your neighbors well, look on apps like Next Door or local Facebook groups, where you can offer your services.

RELATED: 8 Ways to Volunteer Right Now—Without Leaving Your Home

You may still not be able to visit with friends and family members (especially if they live far away), but try video calls, send care packages, or just text a quick note that you’re thinking of them. That can help reduce the loneliness some people are feeling after months in quarantine.

No one is immune to feeling stressed as COVID-19 rages on, whether you’re dealing with the financial or health impact of the coronavirus or simply getting tired of staying home. Remember that exercise, meditation, socializing (safely), and getting a good night’s sleep will all help you manage your stress effectively.

Other generations have had to make far worse sacrifices than this. Staying home could help protect your loved ones and your community from coronavirus. Fortunately, we have plenty of ideas of things you can do to make life at home more fun.