We can guess you’ve already had your fair share of virtual happy hours and video chats with friends and family at this point. You’ve watched a DIY tutorial on making your own masks out of spare fabric, supported small businesses via online shopping, or ordered takeout from your favorite neighborhood dinner spot.
With social distancing in place, it’s difficult to engage in traditional volunteer efforts. A lot of us are looking for ways to show our support and empathy, safely and from home. We may be physically apart, but let’s stay connected. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite ways to show your love towards friends, neighbors, healthcare workers, even strangers you’ll never meet. It’s another way we can #StayHuman these days.
- Share the light. Light up your windows at home inspired by the #LightsOfLove movement. Share a sidewalk chalk message with passersby. Put up a sign of hope in your window. Bring out those rarely used holiday lights early as a way to uplift spirits. So it’s not December—no one’s judging.
- Arrange a meal delivery or send flowers. Looking to show your gratitude for healthcare professionals on the front lines? Check with florists in your area taking necessary precautions to deliver bouquets. Or, POPUPFLORIST is delivering their “Feel Good” dried bouquets nationwide. Instant mood brighteners. For meal deliveries, organizations like Frontline Foods, Feed The Line (Bay Area), and Feed the Frontlines (New York) are helping facilitate the delivery of meals from independent restaurants to appreciative medical workers. In Nashville, a partnership with the Buckingham Foundation is enabling Henley to serve as a satellite kitchen for the Nashville Food Project. For the month of April, our executive chef Daniel Gorman and his team are preparing daily meals for underserved and food-insecure local communities in need of the help during this time.
- Give a standing ovation. One of the most moving acts of solidarity are the nightly rounds of applause heard all around the world, from Paris to New York to San Francisco. Neighborhoods have been clapping (and even howling. Looking at you, Marin County) at set times in the evening as a boost to morale for our unsung heroes, the healthcare workers. Check Nextdoor (a great way to connect with neighbors if you’re not already a member) for timing near you and join in.
- Mail a card to a loved one. There’s no better time for snail mail than when everyone’s home to receive it. Share a “just because” or “thinking of you” note. Order these (plantable!) cards from Thoughtful Human or check out Seattle-based Euni + Co. and Oakland-based People I’ve Loved for more options.
- Use your points for good. If you’re an IHG Rewards Club member, you can donate points (in 2.5k – 10k increments) to charitable organizations providing emergency assistance and relief, such as the American Red Cross. Learn more here.
- Send a recipe to a friend. Keep in mind that people are using pantry staples frequently, so try to choose a recipe that incorporates ingredients people typically have on hand as basics. Need some direction? Here are simple recipes for vegetable-centric dishes and bourbon cocktails.
- Create a playlist. The power of music to unite us has never been stronger. Make a Spotify playlist for a friend—ideally one you curated to help with something specific like working out at home or unwinding after a day of keeping kids entertained. Or, send one of ours—we suggest this one or this one.
- Buy a gift card from a small business. Help sustain a local café, boutique, or indie movie theater until they’re able to open their doors again. Check out websites like SaveOurFaves (San Francisco), Help Main Street (New York), GiveLocal, and Rally for Restaurants.
- Do an act of service for an elderly neighbor. Sweep their walkway, mow their lawn, walk their dog, do a grocery run, or pick up their mail.
- Shop restaurant or bar merchandise. Whether it’s a cookbook, hat, or even a personalized plaque on a bar stool, there’s no shortage of creative gift ideas out there. Return the favor to your local hangout that’s always been there for you.
- Keep creativity alive and well. Tune in to live performances from poetry readings to acoustic guitar sets available on Zoom for a nominal fee or suggested donation. For writers who cancelled book tours, order their book. For musicians that cancelled concerts, buy tickets for the rescheduled dates. Support a visual artist or photographer by ordering prints of their work. Looking for more inspiration? Order “Not Me, Us”. The 200 page limited-run book is the result of a collaborative effort by 100 photographers from around the world. 100% of the proceeds go to One Fair Wage to help gig workers affected by COVID-19.
- Shop companies that give back. Many brands are donating a portion of their sales to local charities or have launched products specifically in support of relief efforts, so it’s a win-win. Not sure where to begin? Lingua Franca created the “Do Your Part, Stay Apart” collection with proceeds benefiting the Food Bank of NYC. San Francisco-based Hero Shop is donating a portion of sales to the SF-Marin Food Bank. All profits from OZMA’s “Sisterhood Bandana” benefit No Kid Hungry.