This past week, Spreetailers celebrated Virtual Volunteer Week by supporting a different cause each day. Without the ability to partake in our usual Volunteer Week, our team sought out ways to partner with local non-profits and support them during these uncertain and challenging times. We wanted to share our ideas in hopes of inspiring you to give back, too!
- Make a monetary donation.
All nonprofits are feeling the pressure during COVID-19 with an increase in demand for resources and services. The economic uncertainty may cause donors to dial back, and many nonprofits are having to cancel some of their usual programs and fundraising events out of concern for public safety. Most nonprofits have limited financial reserves to carry them through lean times ahead. If you’re able, consider donating financial support to causes you care about. Personally, I love donating to organizations during periods when others have committed to donation matching. With Spreetail’s donation match and the match of other donors, some of my donations equate to four or more times my original donation!
- Donate supplies.
The people in our communities dedicated to helping shelter and feed the homeless, provide food to the hungry, and keep us safe and healthy need our help now more than ever. While some organizations are taking precautions to reduce in-person volunteering, many are still accepting donations of non-perishable food items, personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, and other toiletries. If you’re unsure where to start, try searching online for your local homeless shelter, hospital, or food bank. Many of them are keeping their pages and social profiles up to date with their current needs, and if not, try calling them and asking if they’re currently taking donations.
- Donate your time from home.
Reach out to local charities and ask how you can best support them with your time, keeping safety in mind. Things you can do safely from home in support of a nonprofit’s mission could include everything from assisting with grant writing, admin work, or serving as a crisis counselor on a hotline service. If you have a skill that might be useful to an organization — such as web development, marketing, writing, etc. — try offering your services.
- Save supplies for those who need it most.
We understand not everyone is afforded the luxury of time, so it’s important to note that not all giving requires time or money. By far one of the easiest and most impactful things you can do to help is to save supplies for those who need it. Don’t buy anything you don’t need, such as masks, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer.
- Deliver groceries.
According to the CDC, the elderly and immunocompromised are most vulnerable to COVID-19. While we do our part by social distancing and helping stop the rapid spread of this infectious disease, consider ways to actively help those in need. Reach out to your network to see if anyone in your neighborhood needs grocery delivery, medication pick-up, pet care, etc. Try using the Nextdoor App, a local hub to connect and share with your neighborhood.
- Spread the word on social.
When asking our non-profit partners how we can help during this time, we received this message from Michaella, the Community Engagement Director at Food Bank of Lincoln:
“This may seem insignificant, but I assure you, it’s not. We are asking folks to “volunteer” their social media by regularly sharing the Food Bank’s posts about food distribution activity. It’s a way to help increase awareness to the growing audience who may need to access these resources. Since we’ve made the difficult (but we believe right for our organization’s service area) to temporarily halt all volunteer activity, this is a great way for volunteers to stay involved.”
A simple share of a social media post can bring awareness of someone in need and is a great way to “volunteer” in as little as 5 seconds. As you learn about how people are being affected and what the needs are, share that information — and tell people what you are doing to make a difference. Remind people to keep supporting the charities they care about. Share local volunteer opportunities and guidance about where people can give to help those impacted. Seeing your example will help those in your network to realize that they can take action, too.
- Stay home.
If you haven’t heard it enough already, the best thing you can do is to stay home. Although it can be hard not to want to jump and “do” more to help right now, if you are able, one of the most important things you can do is simply stay home and practice social distancing. If you’re still unsure why staying home is so important, there are some great resources out there about “flattening the curve.”
If you feel unwell, try telemedicine before going in person. Teladoc is made available to most people through their employer or health plan. To find out if you have access to Teladoc reach out to your benefits manager for more information.
- Show appreciation for healthcare professionals and essential workers.
It's likely to be a stressful time for those who work on the front lines. Healthcare and essential workers are putting themselves at risk every day to support the needs of our communities while heading directly into the places that everyone else is trying to avoid. They’re doing all of this while facing a depleted supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, and other resources. We all can help support this population, even just through small gestures of kindness.
Being an ecommerce business, we know first-hand what it means to support essential workers. Our fulfillment teams have been working to ensure our customers are able to receive the products they need during this time. We continue to enhance our safety measures and find news way to showcase our appreciation for all they do!
Try it out yourself by getting in touch with local healthcare facilities or grocery stores and asking if you can send hand-written notes, lunches, or drop off coffee for their staff. If you have any actual supplies — such as gloves, masks, or hand sanitizer — see if they could use a donation. If not, ask what you can donate instead. For delivery drivers, consider leaving a basket of snacks or a sign to thank them near your mailbox.
- Learn to sew masks.
Do you have a sewing machine at home? You can help by sewing cloth masks. With the shortage of PPE right now, homemade masks are being used to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Joann Fabrics and other fabric stores are giving out/selling mask making kits with instructions on how to sew them together. Call ahead to a store near you to see if they have supplies. Check out the CDC’s recommendation on making at-home masks.
- Give blood.
The number of blood donations has dramatically diminished due to the implementation of social distancing and the cancellation of blood drives. Thankfully, the CDC states that healthy individuals can still donate — even in areas that have issued shelter in place declarations. Blood Banks provide an essential service to our communities by ensuring lifesaving blood and platelet donations are collected and distributed to patients in need. If you're healthy and able, consider donating blood today.
Even during a crisis that requires us to keep our distance from others in our community, we can support each other throughout. It’s important to pull together now more than ever. Want to learn more about how you can give back to your local community? Check out @wearespreetail’s Instagram highlights and tag us to share how you’re giving back!