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Without leaving your house.

By Katie Holdefehr
April 14, 2020
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As millions of Americans are quarantined at home during the coronavirus outbreak, many frontline and essential workers still have to go into work each day. Frontline workers, like doctors and nurses, as well as other essential workers, such as grocery store cashiers, mail carriers, social workers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, and many others, continue to work, putting themselves at risk.

If you have the luxury of being able to stay home during this time, you may be wondering what you can do to thank and support family, friends, and community members who continue to work during the crisis. Here are just a few ideas to start, from creative ways to express your thanks to sending meals to hospital staff. Most importantly: All of these ideas let you show your support, without leaving your house. 

1
Create a Sign

To express your thanks to essential workers safely, consider making a sign for your yard or window that local workers will see when they walk or drive past your home. While it may be tempting to visit your local hospital with signs, creating signage for your home lets you show your gratitude without leaving the house. 

A simple, legible paper sign in the front window works, but if you want to get a little more creative, join Lowe’s #BuildingThanks campaign with a DIY sign for your front yard. On their website, they offer a few DIY sign ideas you can make using materials you already have on hand, like string lights or plywood. 

2
Donate PPE

Many frontline workers still don’t have adequate access to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gloves. There are many organizations collecting donations and sourcing these much-needed supplies. Consider donating to First Responders First, the California State PPE donation site, or the NYC Mayor’s Fund COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

If you happen to have extra masks and gloves in your personal stash or through your work, consider donating them. No matter if you have a hundred masks or just a few, GetUsPPE.org can connect you with a local hospital or a healthcare worker through their Mask Match program

And this should go without saying, but if you do visit a hospital, don’t take critical supplies like masks or hand sanitizer. Unfortunately, this is a problem many hospitals are facing right now.

3
Send Food to Hospitals

Many groups are also raising funds to donate meal deliveries to hospital staffers who are working around the clock. Check for local fundraisers in your area, or donate to the Bucket Listers GoFundMe campaigns, which are sending meals to hospital workers in major cities, like New York City, Los Angeles, and Houston. There are also many NYC restaurants raising funds to feed hospital workers, including this list of cafes and restaurants.

4
Reach Out to Family and Friends Who Are Essential Workers

Send a text to friends and family members who are still required to work during this time. If they’re busy working long shifts or overnight hours, they may not find the time to respond right away, but they will still appreciate knowing that you’re there for them. 

If you can, consider offering to safely drop off or deliver food for them, so they won’t have to worry about cooking after a long shift at work.

5
Tip the Essential Workers in Your Community

The risk factor associated with many essential jobs has suddenly skyrocketed. Many workers are still not receiving hazard pay, including USPS workers, and even those who are getting hazard pay are almost certainly not being paid a wage that reflects the current risk. In addition to expressing your thanks to delivery drivers, grocery store cashiers, mail carriers, and other essential workers, tip them well if you can. Keep in mind that USPS workers can technically only accept gifts equally up to $20 or less.

6
Put Your Hands Together

Following the ritual started in Italy, Spain, India, and other countries, some American towns and cities have begun clapping for essential workers at a set time. In NYC, the clapping begins at 7 p.m., while in L.A., it's set for 8 p.m. By sticking their heads out of their apartment windows or standing out on the stoop, neighbors join together (from a safe distance) to cheer on frontline workers. Listen in to see if your neighborhood is participating, or consider starting the trend.

7
Show Kindness

During these stressful times, a little kindness can go a long way. Even something as simple as sharing a smile (from behind your protective mask, of course!) can brighten someone’s day. Try to extend kindness to those who are helping during this crisis, including healthcare workers, first responders, cashiers, mail carriers, and others. Share how you are demonstrating kindness at the hashtag #BeTheKind on Instagram.

8
Stay Home

Above all else, staying home and practicing social distancing is the most important thing we can do to slow the spread of the virus and reduce the strain on first responders and healthcare workers. And when you do venture out for food or medicine, wear a face covering—here’s how to whip up a stylish sewn face mask or a simple no-sew one