Over the course of the past few weeks, the impacts of the coronavirus have grown more tangible and immediate to many of us in the United States.
Here in Dallas and Houston, as various events and staples of Texas culture have been postponed or cancelled, it’s easy to feel disconnected as we hole up in our houses and avoid going into the office, having social gatherings, or visiting our favorite restaurants. In this time of social distancing, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to have a community.
With potentially a little more time on our hands (and maybe even a little extra would-be gas money or Starbucks allowance!) there are real and substantial ways we can help. And maybe by doing so, we’ll also find ourselves feeling a little more plugged into these cities we love so dearly.
With potentially a little more time on our hands...there are real and substantial ways we can help.
- Order takeout. Though you can’t visit any sit-down restaurants in Texas, many are now offering their menus for carry-out or delivery.
- Purchase gift-cards from your favorite local restaurant or retail store. Many restaurants are currently offering promotions of complimentary food or beverages when you purchase a gift-card.
- Buy your next book from a local bookstore. Dallas and Houston both have several independent booksellers offering either curbside book pickup (if you just can’t wait 3-5 business days) or online delivery.
Care For Seniors and Animals
- Write letters to folks in Senior Living facilities. Many Senior Living homes are restricting or prohibiting visitors to protect their residents and staff. Consider writing an encouraging letter to a local Senior Living facility or if you’d prefer, you can go through a national nonprofit such as Love for the Elderly.
- Consider fostering a cat or dog. With many shelters understaffed and unable to utilize their normal volunteer labor, many shelters are desperately seeking foster homes for their animals. A new furry friend can give you a couch buddy or an excuse to go on more walks and get out of the house.
Donate to organizations battling the outbreak
- Think local. Regional organizations such as the North Texas Food Bank or the Houston Food Bank are working hard to ensure that food insecure Texans have what they need to get through this very stressful time. This is a particularly relevant need as the many schools that have been closed will no longer provide the regular lunches that many children rely on.
- Consider making a broader impact. Nationally, Meals on Wheels, Direct Relief, Feeding America, and United Way are all tackling different impacts of the virus as well.
- Enlist your family and friends to go in on sponsoring a meal at a local shelter. Not only does this help provide the shelter with the fundraising to feed their residents a meal, but will feel like a communal activity that can be organized completely remotely.
- Sew face masks. If you’re feeling crafty, look into making a medical face mask. Some fabric stores are even offering free materials and tutorials and acting as a drop off site for completed face masks to be donated to senior living facilities, hospitals, and first responders.
- Look into virtual volunteer opportunities. Believe it or not, there are some volunteer initiatives that can be tackled from the couch. If you’re looking for an actionable way to contribute, organizations like Idealist are good sources for finding these types of opportunities.
- Donate blood. Blood banks in Texas are always needing more donors, especially now that almost all the planned blood drive events are cancelled to comply with the new guidelines. If you’re someone who’s able and willing, consider visiting a blood donation center near you.
As life seems to be upended by this outbreak, it’s easy to feel helpless. However, small initiatives of generosity and charity do make a difference. Of course, you should only do things that are within your comfort zone, both physically and financially. And above all, the most helpful thing we can do right now is comply with Federal and local guidelines about social distancing and staying home.
It is crucial right now that we take care of ourselves and each other as our communities strive to get through these unprecedented times.