Helping while sheltering: You can make a difference

During stay-at-home orders, you can make a difference

“Oftentimes people ask me the question — what can I do to help? The most critical thing you could possibly do for your country, for the health care workers on the frontlines and for the health of your community is to stay home.”

These words from Rod Hochman, M.D., President and CEO of Providence, state a simple but vital fact: The best way to help us all get safely through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is to stay home.

But what if you want to do even more for your country and community? For health care workers, friends, family and those in need? There are ways to help from home.

How you can help health care workers

They’re our heroes on the frontlines. And while they’re superheroes in our hearts and minds, they’re still human. They’re prone to the same sickness, stress and fatigue they’re helping their patients battle. Here’s what you can do:

Give a care package. If you’re the one who can meet the need for snacks or a meal, you’ll be saving time for very busy, very tired health care workers. Put together a package of energizing snacks and drop it off at the workplace or use a trusted food delivery service to send healthy lunches.

Give blood. Because the nation’s blood supply is very low, now is a good time to donate blood to make sure there’s a stable supply during and after the pandemic. The American Red Cross is a good place to learn more about where to donate and how blood centers are making sure the process meets the highest standards of safety.

Give needed assistance and materials. By donating money to a trusted organization, you can help fund medical supplies, support communities in need, increase research and much more. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides resources through the CDC Foundation, a nonprofit resource to support vital health protection work.

You can also help Providence respond to significant needs for our caregivers and our communities during this pandemic.

How you can help older adults

They’re our parents and grandparents, our friends and neighbors. And they’re the ones that are the most vulnerable to the effects of the disease. Physical distancing (aka social distancing) may mean that some older adults can’t leave their homes. This can make them feel isolated or in need of more support. Here’s what you can do:

Give your time. This is the biggest gift you can give an older adult and it can take many forms, such as:

  • Check in by calling, using technology such as FaceTime, writing letters and sending cards.
  • Help a neighbor with outdoor tasks like taking out the trash, mowing the lawn and getting the mail.
  • Arrange for a meal delivery or send them some simple recipes to make.
  • Pick up groceries and medicines.
  • Chat with them from a safe distance outdoors, if the weather allows (and you’re wearing face masks).

How you can help others

People in need. There are many people in our country who can’t afford to stock up on groceries or have food delivered to their homes. School closures have also made it difficult for children to get the free meals they depend on during the week and over the weekend through backpack programs. As you’re writing your grocery list, add a few extra items and drop them off at your local food bank. You can also donate online to a local or national food pantry program. That way, those in need can get food staples for free or at a lower cost.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the workers on the front lines — stocking shelves, sanitizing restaurants, delivering meals and packages — they need our encouragement and support too.

Service workers. Sometimes it’s easy to forget these workers are on the front lines, too — stocking shelves, sanitizing restaurants, delivering meals and packages — the list goes on and on. Knowing they need our encouragement and support too, here are some things you can do:

  • Add a tip when you get a package delivered or receive another service, such as lawn care.
  • Show your support by scheduling an appointment now for a future date to get your hair done or your pet groomed.  
  • Say a genuine, “Thanks!” You’ll see them when you’re at the grocery store, post office and drive-thru. Let them know you appreciate them for being there.

Restaurants. Many eateries are still open for pickup or delivery. Experts at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agree that there is currently no evidence that food or its packaging can transmit COVID-19. Still, the virus may be able to live on cardboard surfaces for up to 24 hours. You can lower the risk of contamination when you disinfect and transfer your meal to a plate at home. You can also help your favorite local restaurant keep its doors open until the day when you can reserve a celebration table inside.

  • Over-tip if you can. When you order meals from your local eatery, be sure to support those who deliver the meals, whether it’s to your car or your door.  
  • Show your loyalty and support by buying gift cards. These are great to share with others or even for you to plan to use when the restaurant is fully open again.  
  • Go online and purchase merch. Many restaurants, cafes and bakeries sell merchandise. Look for jams, sauces, clothing and more.
  • Keep it local. Yes, it helps to support your favorite national chains. But your favorite local cafes and diners also need you to buy meals. It may be the only way to help them survive.

The arts. Because of physical distancing, the doors are closed to hundreds of arts and culture venues. That leaves many musicians, artists and craftspeople struggling to make ends meet. Here’s what you can do:

  • Go online to buy the work of local artists, whether it’s jewelry from an artisan or CDs from musicians.
  • Buy a membership to your local museum or theater venue and plan to attend future exhibits and performances.
  • Show support by using social media. If you’re not already, follow your favorite artists, musicians and venues. Then engage with them to let them know you’re a loyal fan.

Our country

According to Mike Butler, President of Strategy and Operations at Providence, you can help make a difference for the country using just your keyboard or pen and paper. Write to Congress and demand a unified approach to stopping COVID-19 and to make sure personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided where it’s needed most.

The most important thing

There are many things you can do from home to help others who are feeling the strain on their health, livelihoods and lifestyle. These are just a few. But remember the most important thing you can do: Stay home and follow physical distancing guidelines. Everyone will be better off because of it.

Donate today. Help Providence respond to significant needs for our caregivers and our communities during this pandemic. 

Learn more. Get relevant, up-to-date information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) from Providence. 


Find a doctor

If you feel unwell and would like to consult your doctor, consider using telemedicine options. Providence Express Care Virtual connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area.







Related Resources

CDC on Stress and Coping During COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC Foundation

Grandparents can provide crucial support within the family

Speed the feed! Quick and easy tips for meals during quarantine

Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Actions you can take from home: A discussion with Providence's Mike Butler

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.


About the Author

The Providence Body & Mind Team is dedicated to providing medically-sound, data-backed insights and advice on how to reach and maintain your optimal health through a mixture of exercise, mindfulness, preventative care and healthy living in general.

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