Love Thy Neighbor On Lockdown: Helping Out In Your Community At A Time Of Crisis

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We’re in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis. Numerous nations across the globe have been on lockdown for weeks. Many of us are unable to work, or at the very least having to adapt to the mixed blessings of working remotely from home. Many of us are having to make do with reduced wages while we’re on lockdown. Some have lost their source of income entirely. And all this is to say nothing of the suffering and loss that the virus has already inflicted. Yet, amidst all this gloom and despair we are seeing rays of light and hope all over the world. People are falling out of their insular and self-interested ways. We’re seeing neighborhoods rediscover their sense of community, as people come together to help the most vulnerable close to them. 

If you’re one of the lucky ones that has managed to ensure the lockdown with your health and finances intact, you may be using this as a time to reflect on all that you’ve taken for granted. A time to appreciate just how lucky you are and to think about others on your street, on your block and within your community who might be so lucky. 

If you’re looking for ways to help out, here are some ideas that can help you to make a real difference…

Send a note to your neighbors

Not sure where to start? Sometimes the simplest methods are the best. Start writing a note for your neighbors which you can slide under their doors (if you live in an apartment building) or into their mailboxes. Introduce yourself. Tell them that you hope they’re okay and managing to stay safe. Offer to help out in any way they might need such as picking up groceries or medicine. Include a contact number and / or your social media details. Some of your neighbors may be elderly, infirm or just plain scared and the idea of going out to collect groceries (especially with stories of panic buying still permeating news cycles). Distribute these notes throughout your building or your street. Be wary of sending out too many of these, however. The last thing you want is to overcommit to the point where you start to make promises that you can’t keep. 

As well as the opportunity to make a real tangible difference in the community, you might also make some new friends. 

Get cooking

With supply chains continuing to reel from the pandemic, there are many who (for a variety of reasons) struggle to get a nutritious meal. A hearty and wholesome meal can work wonders for our immune system, not to mention our morale. As such, if you know that someone nearby may be struggling to feed themselves, what better way to surprise them than by delivering a delicious piping hot meal direct to their door? 

A great way for those who love to cook to make a worthy contribution to a neighbor’s wellbeing.

Make masks to protect others in your community

There’s been much debate recently on the subject of masks. Some scientific minds are saying that masks are extremely helpful in protecting us from the droplets of fluid that can allow the COVID-19 virus to enter our bodies. Others dismiss them as superfluous and no substitute for hand washing and vigilance. Some even suggest that we shouldn’t buy protective masks as it might prevent healthcare workers from gaining access to them. One thing’s for sure, however, they certainly can’t hurt. And they can be invaluable in preventing wearers from spreading the disease if they are asymptomatic. As such, those who are talented with a needle and thread may want to help out by making masks to give to others in your neighborhood. If you’re not sure what materials are best suited for this, you can make a DIY face mask with non woven bags. These are affordable and densely constructed so as not to admit micro-droplets to pass through. Plus, any you don’t use to make masks can still be a green alternative to single use grocery bags.    

Put up a post on Facebook (or post in a local group) letting all your friends know that you’re making masks and let them express their interest. 

Sew ear protectors and scrub bags for nurses

If you live within striking distance of a hospital (and are of a crafty disposition), this could represent another opportunity to do some good. Your local heroic nurses probably don’t need you to sew masks for them. They (hopefully) have access to all the surgical masks they could need. However, it’s important to remember that surgical masks were not made to be worn all day. As such, they can be extremely uncomfortable after long periods of wear and damaging to the sensitive skin of the ears.

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Resultantly, many people have taken to making ear protectors which fit behind the head and draw the strings of the surgical mask together so that they needn’t rub against the ears. Another easy craft idea is to make bags in which nurses can quickly deposit their scrubs for cleaning. You can make them out of an old pillow case and they can be a real help to tired and stressed nurses. 

Feel free to embroider a picture or message to show them how much you appreciate all their hard work and sacrifice. 

homeless manImage by Quinn The Islander via Pixabay

Make and distribute packages for the homeless

Finally, let us not forget that there are some among us who simply can’t self-isolate or social distance because they do not have a home in which to do so. As well as donating to local homeless charities, you can help out by making packages for the homeless in your area. You can either distribute these yourself (being mindful of social distancing, of course) or hand them over to a local charity to distribute them on your behalf. 

As well as snacks, some ready to eat meals (MREs), and bottled water you might also want to include a good book, a homemade mask, comfortable socks, hand lotion, chapstick, deodorant and a heartfelt handwritten note. It might just make a huge difference to some of the most vulnerable in our society!

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