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Ways to help your community while sheltering-in-place

You might be one of the lucky ones, not an essential worker, not dealing with a financial burden, food insecurity, or feelings of helplessness during this pandemic. While we all can do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by sheltering-in-place and only leaving for essential items, there is more we can do to help our local community from the comfort of our couches. Here are some ideas:

Donating to local charities and nonprofits

In recent years, local charities have faced huge challenges when it comes to receiving monetary donations or helping hands, and this has only increased with the spread of COVID-19, which shows no signs of abating in charities being able to reach people in need. What can be done to help local charities in these challenging times? Donations! Whether they come from donating money, clothes or your time, donations are the life source of local charities. I recommend the website, where users can search through thousands of nonprofits and charities near them, and read reviews from previous donors about their experiences working with these organizations.

Donating to food banks

Maybe you have a garden in your backyard producing a surplus of food, or at the start of the pandemic, you panic-bought dry goods and canned goods. Food banks are feeling the same pressure as charities and nonprofits, with many people dropping off less food due to sheltering-in-place. Now more than ever is an important time to donate to food banks, as the New Yorker reports that in the last five weeks, 26.5 million people lost their jobs. This has left many people without a steady income for basic necessities such as food and water.

Take only what you need, stop panic buying

Reducing panic buying is essential for ensuring that all shoppers are able to receive basic needs. This can be difficult, as many of us experience flight or fight instincts when it comes to shopping, fearing that there won’t be enough for our use. However, because of the continued panic buying, many elderly persons and other people who are in desperate need of food, water and toilet paper are without them. So, when shopping, think twice before buying more than you need. And don’t worry: America has plenty of toilet paper. The reason you haven’t seen it on shelves is a delay in delivery time, and the continuous panic buying of it, as reported by CBS News. If you’re in dire need of some TP, the best time to go is in the morning, when stores have been restocked the night before; but remember, only take what you need.

Make and donate face masks

Making a face mask can be a fun way to cure shelter-in-place boredom, and many of the supplies that are needed to make masks are things you probably already have lying around the house. For temporary face-covering, there’s folding a square cloth and using rubber bands, but if you want to try your hand at sewing, there are many free online tutorials and resources to help you learn to do so. If you are not an essential worker, cloth masks are perfect for personal protective equipment (PPE), reports the Center for Disease Control. This means if you have spare industrial or medical face masks, you can donate them to local hospitals or essential workers. Plus, by making your own masks, you can make great gifts for family members or whoever you are sheltering-in-place with. On-campus, Mills alums have made and donated their own hand-made face masks to Mills students still on-campus; they can be found in Cowell on a first-come, first-serve basis from 1-3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Participate in #ClapBecauseWeCare

Starting in New York, now America’s epicenter for COVID-19 cases, the hashtag #ClapBecauseWeCare has become an online trend where people take to the streets or to social media to clap for the healthcare workers who have been working night and day to ensure the health of patients. This act of gratitude means the world to these heroes, and it is simple as writing heartfelt thank-yous to nurses and doctors and giving them a round of applause.