Supporting your local communities is essential, and there are several ways you can lend your time and resources while staying safe...

Oksana Schak

While many communities begin to reopen, the COVID-19 outbreak continues to strain resources, and it can be overwhelming figuring out how to help those in need during these times. Supporting your local communities is essential, and there are several ways you can lend your time and resources while staying safe and practicing social distancing.

If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas on how you can help your community today:

Donate to your local food pantry or food bank – A food pantry serves local residents who suffer from hunger and food insecurity. A quick online search will identify food pantries in your area, and your support will help them provide food items for families in need.

For example, the Feeding Illinois food bank is looking for volunteers to either donate money or volunteer in their facilities across the state. If you’d like to make a financial contribution, visit their website and click the ‘donate’ button on the homepage.

Check on neighbors and friends – If you know someone who is elderly, living alone, or caring for children, consider checking in and asking if they need help. The elderly are among the most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. One thing you may be able to do is shop and deliver groceries on their behalf. This gesture can go a long way, and you may discover other ways you can help your neighbors and friends.

Support local businesses – Although businesses are slowly reopening, the rules around which businesses can be open are still pretty strict. When possible, purchase gift cards to local shops that you can use once storefronts reopen. If you’re shopping online, see if there are local businesses you can support instead of big brand names.

Similarly, if you want to support your local restaurant, consider ordering takeout or purchasing a gift card or merchandise. Several restaurants with patios or outdoor seating are now open and have implemented new health and safety measures, but many are still struggling to get back on their feet. Check out this list of outdoor dining spots in Chicago you can venture out to if interested.

Give blood – The American Red Cross and other organizations are in dire need of blood supply and have safe, healthy ways for you to donate. If you qualify as a donor, find a location near you to schedule an appointment. In terms of safety precautions, the American Red Cross for example has been taking the temperature of staff and donors before they enter a site. They are also following social distancing requirements and providing hand sanitizer.

Volunteer at local animal shelters – Many shelters are facing reduced staff and volunteer support. To start, call your local animal shelter to find out what’s needed. The Humane Society of the United States suggests helping by adopting or fostering a pet, which will reduce the strain on shelters. Remember to check in with your property manager or landlord and review the pet policy before bringing a fur baby home!

Do you have additional suggestions on how to safely and responsibly lend a hand in your community during these times? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!