Giving back: How to help others while isolating
Americans are inventing new ways to assist one another, said Nicholas Kulish in The New York Times. Take Shea Serrano, a Texas author, who was recently watching news on TV about work losses tied to the coronavirus outbreak. “He felt he needed to do something—so he tweeted.” But Serrano has 345,000 Twitter followers, and his short, blunt tweet was a call for any among them who needed help paying a bill to share it on his feed. Stories about student loan debts, car payments, chronic illnesses, and babies on the way flooded in—and then strangers started sending money to other strangers via Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App. By March 24, Serrano counted nearly $28,000 that had been raised and donated, not to a charity but directly to people whose budgets were broken by the outbreak and related shutdowns. As one contributor put it, “All we got is each other.”
What might the rest of us do to help? asked Mary Louise Kelly in NPR.org. First, “think local.” Many informal charitable campaigns are springing up, facilitating ways to get aid to laid-off restaurant workers or children who aren’t receiving the school lunches they usually depend on. Look up your local food bank online to see what they need most, and maybe start a Facebook fundraiser among friends, said Katie Conner in CNET.com. Or simply donate money to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food programs that feed more than 46 million people. You can help keep shuttered local restaurants afloat by spending money on their takeout food, their merchandise, and their gift cards.
And don’t forget that you can give time instead of money, said Ria Misra in TheWirecutter.com. Reach out to isolated, at-risk neighbors, such as the elderly, and “ask them how you can help, whether by picking up prescriptions and groceries or offering other assistance.” Blood supplies are down nationwide, so contact the American Red Cross if you’re healthy enough to donate. And be as social as you can be under the circumstances, said Meghan Walbert in Lifehacker.com. Call or Facetime with older relatives who live alone. Play virtual chess with a distant friend. And if you’ve never participated in neighborhood message boards or Listservs, join those groups now—“so that you’ll be able to share your surpluses, pool your expertise, and call on your neighbors for help when you need it, too.” ■