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7 Affordable (or Totally Free) Ways to Give Back During COVID-19 Shutdowns

If you’ve been taking in all the news around COVID-19 over the past week and feel a desire to help, but aren’t sure how, here are a few options to consider.

Hands holding a red paper heart in the air.


Keep in mind that you may be in more of a position to help others than you realize—offering your support doesn’t have to cost much, but can mean the world to those who need it.

Check in on vulnerable friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers.

Be sure to regularly call those who may be struggling to get what they need—whether it be for being at higher-risk for COVID-19 or struggling financially. If you’re able, offer to pick a few things up for them on your next shopping trip (or add them to your delivery order) and drop them off on their porch, make and deliver a home-cooked meal to them in the same fashion, or simply lend an ear for them to talk to.

Those who aren’t as tech-savvy or as connected with others may find staying at home for days on end extra difficult and appreciate simply getting to chat every now and then!

Continue to support local establishments.

Local restaurants, bars, shops, and non-profits, and their employees (who are often uninsured and/or without paid time off), are already feeling the impact of having to limit their business or temporarily close their doors. Many have created ways for the public to continue supporting them and their employees during this time, including offering carry-out and delivery options, promoting online sales, and putting together crowdfunding drives.

Show your support for local businesses by ordering delivery (and tipping extra), buying gift cards for future use, or donating a few extra dollars to their cause.

Check out this list of Fort Wayne area restaurants that are offering delivery and carry-out services and Fund the Fort, which has rounded up all of the area Go Fund Me pages in one convenient spot!

Donate to, or volunteer for, local non-profits in need.

Follow local organizations on their social media pages, or reach out to them directly, to stay up-to-date about what they’re in need of. Animal rescues, for example, have been posting callouts for dog and cat food. After-school programs may be in need of volunteers to take part in virtual story-time with their kids. Shelters may be in need of more meals, hygienic products, or blankets. Food banks may be in need of extra canned goods or produce.

If you’re unable to donate any items, money, or time, then simply consider helping them spread the word by engaging with and sharing their social media posts—it may just get in front of someone who can!

Create care packages or send virtual gift cards.

Whether you want to say “thank you” to essential workers who have no choice but to put themselves at risk to help others, or simply want someone to know you’re thinking of them in these trying times, consider putting together a care package. These may include healthy snacks, electrolyte drinks, a small blanket, magazines, a book of sudoku or crossword puzzles, and if you come across any, sanitary products like hand sanitizer, soap, disinfectant wipes, gloves, and masks. Don’t forget to take extra caution when putting these together – washing your hands and wiping down each item before placing them into the box or bag!

If you’re unable to shop for the items needed for a care package, consider sending a virtual gift card for coffee, food, a streaming service, or anything else they may appreciate!

Make masks for at-risk essential workers.

Many healthcare facilities, veterinary offices, and food industry establishments have begun running out of medical-grade masks, putting them at increased risk for exposure. People around the world have stepped up and started sewing homemade versions to help out.

If you’re locally-based, Parkview Hospital will be handing out mask-making kits tomorrow (Thursday, March 26)—you can learn more here.

Check out this article for tips on making your own masks at home to donate to workers in need.

Be kind.

One of the best things you can do through all of this, without spending a dime, is be kind to others. We’re all feeling anxious, frustrated, and saddened by the state of the world as it relates to COVID-19 right now. Showing patience, gratitude, and understanding as you interact with others is crucial to getting through this, together.

Stay home, keep your distance, and wash your hands.

You didn’t think we could let you get through this article without mentioning these, did you? The single most important action you can take to help others at this time is to stay home unless it’s absolutely essential that you be out (check out this page for clarification on what that means). In addition, respect the six-foot distance between you and others and consistently practice good hygiene (wash your hands, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and keep your hands away from your face).

SHARE YOUR IDEAS! What ideas do you have for giving back to and helping others in this time of need? Share with other readers in the comments!

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