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How You Can Help Your Neighbors and Community

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How You Can Help Your Neighbors and Community Blog Feature

By: Colleen McGrew on April 9th, 2020

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The value of helping and supporting your neighbors, community, friends, and family reached a new level of importance throughout the last couple of years. Even though we have had time to adjust to changing lifestyles, it can still be overwhelming and difficult to navigate this new landscape. We’ve gathered a list of resources, ideas, and more to help you stay connected, learn more about how you can help your loved ones and neighbors, and stay safe and healthy.

We've compiled a list of ideas for how you can help and support neighbors, community, and even yourself:

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What You Can Do for Older Relatives and Neighbors

couple learning how to video chat

Here are a few ways to provide help, care, and kindness to your older neighbors and relatives:

  • Check in – Simple to do, this small gesture can have big impact. Make a phone call, leave a card, or drop off a favorite treat to let your neighbors know you're there and thinking of them. Add a note with your contact information to remind them and their caregivers how to reach you. 

  • Drop off groceries – Check in with older neighbors before your next trip to the grocery store to see if they need you to pick up anything for them. Alternately, if you get groceries delivered, see if you can help set them up with the same service you use, especially if they struggle with new technology.

  • Pick up their prescriptions – Many grocery stores double as a pharmacy. If you are able to take your next grocery trip where they get their prescriptions dropped off, see if you can save them a trip. On your way home, leave the bag in their mailbox, on their front step, or somewhere they can safely and easily grab it.

  • Help with digital set-up – While they may have embraced the basics, there are more online resources than ever for entertainment, classes, and connecting with their families and friends.

    • TV & moviesIf they’re having trouble connecting their devices to access online catalogs of books and movies through the many streaming services available, set up a video or phone call to help them through the process.

    • Books & music & podcastsMany services are offering more free audiobooks, TV shows, and more. Apple Podcasts enables customers to access a vast amount of free podcasts, and Amazon's Audible offers a month of free access to its entire platform of audiobooks and podcasts. A few other digital content channels they can explore could be setting them up with a free Spotify account or teaching them how to download podcasts that would interest them the most.

    • How to video chat with their families & friends Adjusting to software and app updates can get confusing. Help them stay on top of technology, set up their account, and practice their video capabilities so they can get comfortable with the latest versions of Facetime and video chat platforms.

    • Online gamesFrom card games to board games to group games, there are seemingly infinite online options for playing games with family and friends virtually. Here are a few resources to check out:
    • Online classesDepending on their interests, many resources have now gone online. Teach them how to access TED Talks, help them enroll in an online poetry class, or choose from a wide variety of free educational courses.
  • Offer to walk their dog, deliver food, or water their outdoor plants – If you are safe and able, offer to help out with their pet care. Pet food is notoriously heavy and difficult to transport, especially during trips to the store where you’re already stocking up as much as possible. See if you can either pick some up for them or help set up a subscription for delivery. If they need some help getting their dog the type of exercise they’re used to, offer to take Rover on a long walk. 

  • Send booksSome independent book stores offer delivery services for their books. For example, Kramer's Bookstore, Bar & Restaurant in Washington, DC has set up delivery service through Postmates where you can even send a friend a book anonymously to brighten their day. If you have any extra reading material around your house, consider dropping off a package during your next walk through the neighborhood.

  • Care package Sometimes just the reminder that someone is thinking about you is more than enough. Consider putting together a care package you can drop off. If you have kids, let them get creative with what goes in the box, as well as decorating the outside. Fill it with their favorite snacks, a few self-care items you can find at the grocery store like hand lotion or scented candles, and maybe some homemade cookies. Make sure to include a handwritten note or homemade card to top it off and make their day.

  • For out of town relatives – Make use of the technology available and check in as much as you can. If you have kids, you can set them up on a video chat playdate. They can perform their latest feat on the piano, share their most recent artistic masterpieces, or just tell their grandparents about their day. Send snail mail if you can with any groceries they might not be able to find in their area, homemade cards, and more.

  • Help them stay connected to their communityWhether they’re your next door neighbor or your aunt living across the country, share resources you find to help them stay connected to their community. Many brands and companies are working to create easy virtual spaces to connect with those around you. Do some research and see what you can find in their area.

  • Facebook has created a community support page where local residents in your community can offer and request help. Categories include transportation, food, toiletries, and even information. The page uses your profile’s location to connect you with others in the area. Whether they need help or would like to offer it, this could be a great resource to keep in touch with their neighbors.

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What You Can Do for Neighbors with Small Children

family working from home with kids

Here are a few ways to help out your neighbors who are home with the kids:

  • Virtually babysit – While you may not be able to physically take the kids off their hands, offer to spend an hour, or a few hours, entertaining the kids via video chat. Choose a time where parents can get some work done during the day or give them some relief in the evening so they can relax on their own. Here are a few ideas for ways to entertain the kids during your ‘babysitting’ session:

    • Read them a story
    • Make a craft together
    • Show them a magic trick
    • Share cute YouTube clips
    • Make sure they get a glimpse of your pets
    • Teach them something
    • Play a game like Uno or classic board games online
    • Write a story together – make it fun and silly and switch off who gets to tell the story as you annotate.
    • Play Mad Libs with Mad Libs apps or order a booklet on Amazon to have at the ready for your babysitting session. Have the kids fill in the silliest words they can think of.
    • Take a field trip - Visit a zoo or museum together. National parks, zoos, and museums are now offering virtual tours, live feeds, animal updates, and more. Share your screen and navigate these resources together:
  • Set up an online playdate with your kids – Are the kids having to quarantine for the time being and missing their friends? Set up an online playdate for them to see their classmates and neighbors. Plan an activity or two for the kids to do together from the list above like creating the same craft and let them take over.

  • Pick up some essentials for them - We often think of our older neighbors and relatives first, but those with small children may be struggling to get to a grocery store and stock up on all that they need, especially if they’re going through their supplies faster. From diapers and baby food to snacks and supplies, take a moment to check in with your neighbors with small children to see if you can pick them up anything on your next trip to the grocery store.

  • Add some non-essentials to your cartWhile shopping for supplies, see if there are creative activities you can come up with for the kids from items you can buy at the grocery store. Some grocery stores have an office supply aisle with coloring books, construction paper, colored pencils, and other crafting materials. Peruse the baking aisle for food dye, baking supplies, and rainbow sprinkles for an at-home baking lesson. You can even pick up party supplies like themed cups and plates to have a special celebration or tea party with their favorite stuffed animals.

    For the adults, consider picking up a bottle of wine, a bag of fresh coffee, treats they can keep out of the kids’ reach, or even some self-care or home supplies like face masks, new plug-in scents, extra laundry detergent, or air fresheners.

  • Lend them your favorite games – If you’re an empty nester holding on to your kids’ old toys or doing some spring cleaning and stumbling upon old board games from the 90’s, see if parents nearby would be interested in borrowing them. It will provide some new entertainment for the kids and also be a nice throwback for the parents.

  • Send this Pinterest board full of ideas to busy parents for recipes, ways to entertain the kids, easy at home workouts, and more.

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What You Can Do for Health Care Workers in Your Community

health care workers

Here are a few ways we can provide help, show our thanks, and support essential personnel and health care workers for their efforts over the last couple of years: 

  • Get vaccinated – Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best thing you can do to support health care workers. It's also important to follow CDC guidelines and state protocals.
  • Send meals – If you are able, check in with the health care workers in your network to see when would be a good time to order them a meal to be delivered during their shift.

  • Drop off or mail a care package –Take a few moments and put together a special care package for them. If you are able to go to a grocery store, pick up a few of their favorite snacks, possibly some fresh flowers to brighten their day, and some items they may not have time to shop for like shampoo, soap, or even hair ties. Have your kids draw them a picture or include a craft project to let them know you’re thinking of them.

  • Give them a call – It sounds simple, but even just checking in can be enough to show your appreciation for all that they do and to make sure they’re doing okay. A little goes a long way!

  • Offer to walk their dog, feed their pets, or water their plantsIf safe, see if you can help out with their pet care while they’re at work. Many hospital workers have long shifts and may not be able to fall back on their typical pet care options.

  • If you own a business, consider what you can do to help. Many brands are donating or offering special promotions on items to help health care workers get through their days like comfortable shoes from brands like Keds and All Birds, soaps, flowers, dry shampoos, scrubs – even wedding dresses. 

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What You Can Do for Your Community

Supporting your community

Here are a few ways you can help those in your community from local businesses to nonprofits and more:

  • Communicate with your community – Join or start a group chat, a Facebook group, a chain of emails, a Google Doc – whatever method, choose a space for your neighbors to come together and support each other. This forum can become an exchange to connect those with needs to neighbors who can help run errands, schedule small gatherings or virtual game nights, or just offer emotional support as a way to check in.

  • Support local businesses – Here are a few ways you can support local businesses during this time:

    • Order food for delivery or pick up as much as you can
    • Purchase gift cards from your favorite restaurants and shops to use at a later date
    • Write positive online reviews for your favorite businesses
    • Think outside the box of what types of local businesses you can support. Do you have instruments that need a tune up? Many local music shops are offering pick-up and drop-off services for instrument care. Can you order board games from a local toy store? New outfits from a local boutique? Home décor from a local shop?
    • Surprise a friend with an order from a local shop
    • Share and tag how you’re supporting local businesses on your social accounts. Tag a snapshot of your delivery dinner or a photo of your pet supplies you ordered to show your support and encourage others to do the same.

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What You Can Do for Your Community’s Pets

Walking neighbors dogs

Here are a few ways you can provide support and assistance to your community's local pets, pet stores, and animal shelters.

  • Support local pet shops – From treats and toys to food and litter, see if you can pick up your pet supplies from a local pet store or have them delivered to your front doorstep. Rather than pick these up at a grocery store chain, take a look at how you can support local pet stores instead.

  • Foster and/or adopt – For the safety of shelter staff, many local shelters are expanding their fostering programs during this time. With many companies transitioning back to the office, the influx of pet adoption has slowed. If you’re still working from home, see if you can help out by offering to foster a dog, or even a cat depending on their specific programming. Here is a resource to get you started:
  • Offer to help neighbors with their pet care – If you are safe and able, see if you can help out your neighbors with their pet care, especially those who are unable to go on long walks with their dogs or go to the store to pick up supplies.

  • Donate & support – There are many ways in which you can support your community’s animal shelters, including virtual adoptions and new foster programs. If fostering or adopting isn’t an option for you, consider donating supplies, offering to help transport foster animals, or even coming up with a fundraising idea to help them stay afloat. Nonprofits like The Humane Society and ASPCA are also working to make it as easy as possible to provide help and support to animals in need.

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What You Can Do for Yourself to Stay Connected and Take Care

Woman working out at home

While focusing on what you can do for others, don't forget to take care of yourself. Here are a few resources and ideas for how to stay connected, stay busy, and take care: 

  • Stay connected

    There are endless avenues to stay connected to friends, neighbors, and family if you have to quarantine at home. Here are a few of our favorite suggestions:

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If you have any questions on how to connect with EYA during this time, click here for a quick message from our team, links to our online resources, and more information.

Disclaimer: In any and all of the suggestions on supporting your neighbor, we stand behind the CDC’s guidelines of practicing social distancing and keeping both those around you and yourself safe.