By now you have probably read many COVID-19 articles. The number of topics stemmed from this virus is overwhelming — from the way the virus spreads, to how many are affected and dying, and even the economic repercussions our country is facing. It is a time when anxiety is high and control seems to be lost.
It can be easy to get lost in the chaos. After reading this article, I hope you are left with one thing: your community needs you to be a community. It is time to have a discussion with each other on how we can spread support throughout Chattanooga.
We have seen this played out in our community of Chattanooga already, through local small businesses like New York Pizza Department who stepped up to feed local children. These business owners are ordinary people, who are stepping up to help others. Their actions are extraordinary and their efforts are inspirational. It may have even led you to ask, “How can I help?”
There are actually many, many things we can all do. If we all chose one, imagine the trickle effect of love and hope we would spread, along with necessities, people desperately need.
1. Donate to your local food bank and help feed kids who rely on school for nutrition.
During this crisis, it is no secret there is a food shortage and thousands of citizens have lost their employment, both of which create a huge economic impact. Donating to your local food bank can help those who are not able to stock up their food pantry. It’s very simple to donate to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. For every $1 donated, four meals are provided for.
United Way of Chattanooga is partnering with local nonprofits in our community to provide the most emergent needs like food and hygiene items. Some of the partners include the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, iHELP Chattanooga, YMCA, and Chattanooga Community Kitchen. These organizations are working together to feed children who are out of school, as well as provide essentials for individuals and families in the community. Please learn how you can help and donate to the Restore Hope Fund.
Churches also provide basic needs to individuals like food and hygiene items. When you donate supplies or tithe to your congregation, efforts to help your community are happening in your own neighborhood. If you are unsure of what exactly is being done, please ask your church and discuss ways you can help meet your neighborhood’s needs.
2. Donate blood.
Donating blood to organizations like the American Red Cross or Blood Assurance is essential during this crisis too. Blood drives have been canceled all over the country, which could lead to blood shortages in the future. Blood is essential for healthy individuals. It is used for current patients and those in accidents, women in childbirth, etc.
3. Check on the elderly and donate to the homeless.
Programs like Meals on Wheels bring food and household supplies to seniors, who are the most vulnerable during this pandemic. The local program was requesting cards and drawings to deliver to the seniors to bring happiness during this unsettling and lonely time.
Be sure to check on elderly neighbors too. You can offer to leave groceries on their doorstep.
Homeless shelters also need continued support during this time. Homeless shelters can often be overcrowded with limited hygiene resources available to them.
4. Support small businesses and those who make low wages.
Purchasing gift cards to local restaurants, bakeries, boutiques, etc. is easier than ever thanks to online marketing and retailing. Check out this handy list of ways to support small businesses while social distancing. There’s also the option to order online for lots of these local shops and restaurants. Uber Eats will deliver your food to you, as well. Here’s a great list of local shops and restaurants to check out.
If you know of any individuals who need assistance, services like PayPal and Venmo make it simple and easy to transfer money. Social media has been a great tool at highlighting individuals who need financial help with a bill or money for diapers, and linking them to those who just want to help!
It’s amazing the good impact we can have if we all work together during this trying time. Our community needs to still be a community — a better one than we were. We just need to love from a distance, for now.
Let’s call and check on neighbors, send letters or video chat to those who live alone, check on each other and offer emotional support (hello, other parents stuck with children 24/7), donate our time, money and resources. We need to pray for our community, nation, and world, spread good vibes, and send lots of therapeutically hilarious memes.
No matter what you give — acts of service, money and resources, time with others, words of encouragement — it’s all good and much needed. So, let’s do good together. Instead of sickness, let’s spread love and hope.