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    Helping Those in Need During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    May 01, 2020

    Sitting at home day after day can not only become monotonous; it can take a toll on us emotionally and physically. The stress of hearing the news from outside, combined with the stress of home confinement, can weigh on us, and you may start feeling run down. 

    It's important to find some meaning in your days to combat feelings of apathy. What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you going when you start feeling down? If you're searching for more meaning, you might find it in helping others during this time. 

    There are several ways to help those in need during this pandemic. You can even do it right from your couch! You can help others stay safe by helping facilitate the delivery of personal protective equipment (masks, etc.), living essentials (food, supplies), and social support, all while staying inside and reaching out virtually. You can volunteer with organizations to help support their logistical tasks from your home, and there are also ways to assist by going out— but only if you are healthy, willing, and have your protective supplies. 

    Assisting with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    Create homemade masks: Are you ready for a hands-on project and have some extra fabric in your home? Face masks will be a necessity in the months ahead for everyone in the country. 

    There are simple patterns to make easy, no-sew masks for your family, friends, and neighbors. Here’s one with an easy-to-follow video from the New York Times. There are also patterns that require some sewing to create pleated Surgical Style or Olson Style masks, both of which are more likely to be accepted at healthcare sites.

    Some hospitals are currently accepting homemade cloth masks for their workers (my contact at New York's Mount Sinai health system indicated you should email donations@mountsinai.org if you have PPE donations, including homemade masks.) For healthcare providers across the country accepting homemade masks (and the style of the mask they require), there's a detailed list at weneedmasks.org.

    Support organizations distributing PPE: There are several ways to support various organizations providing PPE to people in need. 

    If you are in the position to donate money, that's very helpful. To support the general spread of PPE to facilities across the country, you can donate to organizations such as getusppe.org and unicefusa.org. Or, if you want to target a specific group of people, there are options for this as well (for example, if you want to donate PPE to those who are caring for people with Alzheimer's, go to investacure.com. You can also donate to your local hospitals (for example, NYU Langone hospital directs people to their website for financial donations so they can purchase PPE for their staff).

    If you're unable to donate financially, simply spreading the word about these companies on your social media goes a long way to support them! The more people who know about these options, the more support they will get!

    You can also volunteer your time with these types of organizations to help with logistics (for example, PPE Link is looking for this type of help). You can also reach out to your local hospital or health care facility to see if they need volunteers, whether in person or via phone/computer, to help them navigate the overwhelming need.

    Help with the Essentials

    Food scarcity is an issue for so many in this country, and it is only increasing as people continue to lose their sources of income. If you are able, food pantries are looking for donations and assistance now more than ever. 

    Ask your neighbors, particularly older adults, if they need help with food deliveries. You can deliver groceries and supplies contact-free by leaving it on their doorstep and calling them when it's safe to pick it up. (Remember to wear your protective equipment when you go out and stay 6 feet away from others while in public!)

    Cook meals for your neighbors who are suffering financially or who are unable to go out. 

    Send online gift cards from your favorite restaurants who are still delivering meals.

    Stay Inside and Reach Out Virtually

    Just staying inside is a generous and selfless act. You're making a sacrifice; it isn't easy, and it isn't fun. However, you're protecting the most vulnerable by helping reduce the spread of COVID-19, and that is admirable in itself. Take care of yourself. Reach out to others and brighten their day with a thoughtful phone call, video call, or even a letter in the mail (and include some homemade masks for extra points). 

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