As COVID-19 spreads and shutdowns increase, our world can feel like it’s shrinking. So much of our daily life is now inside our own homes. How can we be neighbors and peacemakers when it’s not safe to be in our own communities?
It’s still possible. Here are 7 ways to keep showing up and showing love in your community, right now:
1. Communicate through your windows
Neighborhoods have banded together using Facebook groups to create interactive activities for kids. Stuffed bears are propped in windows so kids can go on a “bear hunt” and find the animals.
Others have decorated their windows with cut-out hearts and encouraging signs—sending a message of love, hope, and solidarity.
Listen now: Love Anyway Podcast: Look for the Helpers
2. Spread love through chalk
Spread love and connect with others through chalk art. Decorate your fence and sidewalks. Take a walk around the block with some chalk in your pocket and leave a short message or picture for a friend.
3. Share supplies
Facebook or Nextdoor groups are a great way to connect with neighbors and coordinate on activities. They can also be a good place to share how we can help each other. Have extra toilet paper? Post and see who needs it. Need help finding something at the store? Post and ask if anyone can look for you.
Check in specifically with neighbors you know might be more vulnerable—the elderly and others with mobility issues, those with immunocompromised family members, and those who might be struggling financially. If you’re already going to the store, send a text to those who can’t get out and see if you can pick up anything for them.
Be sure to buy what you need but leave some for others. Sometimes sharing supplies is leaving some on the shelves for the next person. Specifically, if you see items marked as eligible for WIC, try to leave those for WIC customers.
While you’re sharing supplies, don’t forget to donate food and household supplies to your local food pantry. This can be a particularly trying time for the most vulnerable. For those who shop using food stamps, their choices of what they can buy are already limited. Now they face even more restricted options as shelves are empty. And for those who suddenly are without income, food pantries might play a critical role in helping provide for their families.
Read more: How to Love Anyway Under Quarantine
4. Make masks
Are you good at sewing? Consider sewing face masks. Check with your local hospital and urgent care and see if they need masks for their healthcare professionals.
If they are OK on supplies, you could sew masks for the elderly or immunocompromised in your neighborhood, or just for for your neighbors who can’t sew or don’t have a machine. More reports are showing that it could be beneficial for everyone to wear masks in public, as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.
5. Support small businesses
Many local businesses are struggling as their normal business functions are limited. Consider purchasing gift cards to use later in the year, or as teacher or birthday gifts. Need more coffee? Consider buying beans or grounds from the local coffee shop instead of the supermarket chain. If you have the means, try getting to-go meals once a week to support local restaurants.
6. Get offline
By all means, use video calls—they’re perfect for staying connected at work and keeping up with friends. But don’t be afraid to get offline and write cards and letters to friends and family members. Recruit your kids to create artwork for elderly shut-ins. Work with your local nursing home to drop off cards or send them through the mail. Leave them on the porches of neighbors.
Wherever we go, our first priority is always listening. Listening to people’s stories. Listening to their needs. Before we mount a response or create a plan, we listen to what people are telling us about their situations.
You can do the same, right where you are. People are hurting right now. They’re scared. They’re lonely. They’re anxious about health, about finances, about the future.
Listen. Hold space for people to share what they’re feeling.
And, if others are willing, share your own feelings. Part of belonging to each other, supporting each other, is holding one another’s emotions and stories.
You can also document the loving actions of others in your community, through photography, art, music, or writing. It can encourage those around and it’s a great way to reframe what’s happening into an experience we can grow through.
So much of our world feels stuck right now, uncontrollable and shut down. But we can still be a people of action, of peace, of community-building. We can continue to show up for those around us, every day.