An open letter to how to help your community during a global pandemic

Dear Readers, 

I hope you are safe, healthy, and doing well during these uncertain times. COVID-19 has changed a plethora of things for people around the world. Many people have canceled events  to prevent the spread of this infectious disease and are practicing social distancing. Globally, people are worried about what the future of interacting will look like. You have most likely had a Zoom Call, Skype Call, or Google Meet during this past month. It has become a habit now to log on with your meeting ID and “see” your colleagues or peers through a computer screen. 

Every time you listen to the news and continue to hear them say, “the numbers are increasing..”, a melancholy feeling arises in you. Worrisome thoughts start circling your mind, but you try to replace them with positive ones. You are not alone. Millions around the world are going through the same feelings: uncertainty about when you will return to your usual routine, wake up and rush to get ready, have your coffee, breakfast and go to work or school.

This will be the new normal for a while and so it is important to embrace the change and do whatever is needed to protect ourselves and others. According to the Brookings Institution, “To help protect our communities we must take all appropriate and feasible public-health precautions, such as wearing masks and minimizing physical contact, especially with vulnerable people. We must recognize, however, that a large part of such behavior is necessary not because of the risk to oneself, but because of the social responsibility that confronting an infectious disease necessarily implies.”   It is not just “me” anymore; it is “we” now. Your actions don’t only affect you, but the people around you. That means your loved ones, your neighbors, and your community. 

However, there is an upside to all of this. Around the world, we are able to witness different acts of kindness. People have written cards to front line workers, donated to companies that help provide food, and many restaurants are providing meals to healthcare workers. 

Giving your community members a share of what you have is very helpful, and this kind acts impact in many ways. As famously said by Helen Keller,

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So, you can: 

  • Start a Community Drive: There are many people who are in need of important supplies like toiletries, food, and clothing. By starting a community drive, you can gather such supplies and help your nearby homeless shelters or other places/organizations that are in need of supplies. A pandemic does not stop the economic gap, and that means there are people in your community right now who are in need of help.As part of the EmpowerAndHelp ambassador program, I had the privilege to witness several community drives organized by fellow ambassadors.It is a great way to help your local people in need. To start a community drive, contact local shelters or an organization of your choice,  explain your interest in starting a community drive, and then learn what they need. Next, come up with a plan to collect these items.  Finally, spread the word about your community drive by using social media, making flyers, and/or reaching out to family/friends. After, you have collected items, and completed the community drive, drop off the items you collected to the shelter/organization you are donating to. Make sure to make the community drive contactless. Simply leave a box outside, and ask for people to drop off items there. Like famously said, “When there is a will, there is a way.” 
  • Raise Funds for an Organization: Many organizations could use funds to help out even more communities. To support them, you can plan a fundraiser! One of our EmpowerAndHelp ambassadors, Riya, sold tulsi plants to raise funds for an organization actively involved in helping people in need during the Yemen Crisis. You can do a similar act of kindness by selling things to raise money for an organization supporting a cause you are passionate about. Since we are in a global pandemic, make sure you make the deliveries contactless. Also, make sure you pack items and keep all parts of the community drive safe for everyone! 
  • Donating/Volunteering for Organizations/Fundraisers: You can support many organizations by donating money or volunteering. Organizations like Save the Syrian Children, Feeding America, and many more could use your help to support their cause. 

Below are some more resources to support our communities:

  1. https://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/coronavirus)
  2. https://tinyurl.com/yb6q2982 (my.care.org/)
  3. https://tinyurl.com/y7v8jw8n (Save the Children)
  4. https://tinyurl.com/ydg6rhtk  (Catholic Relief Services)
  5. https://tinyurl.com/y8hcu6cb (USA for UNHCR, help Rohingya refugees)
  6. https://tinyurl.com/y9t9qqp4 (USA for UNHCR, help refugees)
  7. https://tinyurl.com/y9752wk5 (Save the Syrian Children)

Know that there are many more organizations out there doing good for the world. A simple way to get to know about them is just to research “organizations helping out the community” and look out for advertisements that call out for donations to help out. Many of these organizations help to reduce poverty among immigrant and low-income families. 

If you are looking other ways to give back, the below link has great ideas: https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/health/coronavirus-how-to-help/https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/health/coronavirus-how-to-help/

  • Raising Awareness:  If you are passionate about an issue, there are many ways you can raise  awareness about it.  One of the ways you can do so, is by using social media!  Social media is a useful tool that is used all around the world. People can easily like and share your post and become vehicles to spread awareness globally. If you like to draw, you can make posters or flyers and distribute it, post it on your social media, share it with your friend groups, and around your community! Finally, you can also write blog articles about important issues and get them published, so more people can learn about it. A great example is the articles written by Empower And Help Ambassadors about issues such as education, marine life, and more!

 

  • Other Kind Acts: 
    • Hygiene: Wash your hands and wear a mask.  This may seem small but by practicing good hygiene you can help save a lot of lives including yourselves and your fellow citizens by preventing the transmission of COVID-19! The FDA says “Last, but not least, you can protect yourself and your family from coronavirus with simple hygiene: washing your hands.”
    • Cards: Try making a card for an essential worker.  If you don’t know where to start on this, try making a card for a family member or friend who is fighting for us all during this pandemic. Your appreciation and support means a lot to them. I have created many cards through EmpowerAndHelp’s Cards of Hope program: Link, where we were able to say thank you to our essential workers for their love and kindness!
    • Mask Making: If you know how to sew, why not try making a mask? As the United States battles the coronavirus, you could help out by making masks in a time of PPE-shortages. 
    • Scheduling a call with your neighbors, friends, and family: Schedule a call with your neighbors or friends and talk to them.  It may seem small but it will give you and others a much needed emotionally and mental boost.

These generous acts can help many people get through this pandemic both emotionally and physically.  Remember, anyone can spread love and kindness from the comfort of their home during this pandemic. 

Blend your interests and create different projects to give back to your community. 

Finally, I hope you and your families stay safe and protected during these uncertain times. This pandemic has taught us a lot about relationships, helping out our community, and more. It has had a big impact on us emotionally, but the most important thing to remember is to practice good hygiene, love and help your community members, and be grateful for what we have. Each day those numbers may grow, but our fight will just get stronger and stronger. You have a part in this pandemic, so make sure you use that role sensibly, and help contribute to your community in any way you can. 

Stay strong everyone!

(Image by John Hain from Pixabay)

From, Sahasra Nandela 

Sources:

  • https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/how-you-can-make-difference-during-coronavirus-pandemic
  • https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/whos-afraid-of-covid-19/
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/20/us/california-coronavirus-good-news.html
  • https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/health/coronavirus-how-to-help/
  • Image by Bob Dmyt from Pixabay

[By Sahasra Nandela, is Global Awareness Ambassador from North Carolina ]

4 thoughts on “An open letter to how to help your community during a global pandemic

  1. Beautiful message. I love that you provide clear actionable items in order for readers to take next steps! Thank you for writing 🙂

  2. Hello Sahasra,

    This is a truly great open letter. One that is filled with inspiration, hope, and reassurance for those who may be struggling during these difficult times. Your suggestions for how to help others in need is brilliant and your compassion is evident for all to see through your writing. Great piece, keep up the good work!

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