Sunday, February 7, 2021

Giving Back During the Pandemic

Giving certainly looks different right now. Our groves, covens, and groups might not be meeting in person, but our need to connect is stronger than ever. If I were writing my thoughts on giving back to the community before this all began, I know my thoughts would be very different! In what seems like another life, I would have suggested gathering some friends and picking up trash in parks, nature preserves, and along highways. I would have suggested volunteering at any of your local NPOs addressing social needs such as food banks, housing insecurity agencies, or afterschool programs. The thing about these suggestions is this: these are all social events. The last thing we need is to create a super-spreader event trying to make ourselves feel better about our role as a productive member of society! 

Folks who are able have opted for making financial donations in lieu of physical work as their contribution, but with so many feeling the pinch of fewer hours and less customers, adding the financial burden of even the most worthy of causes is not an option.

So, during this time of social distancing, if you are feeling the spirit of generosity upon you, here are some ways you can still give back to your community:

  • Deliver supplies. Many of the organizations we would normally volunteer with in person have adopted a delivery service model, though their budgets do not have room to add personnel to get the once-picked-up supplies into the hands of those who need them. Contact food banks and other local charities and offer to give their packages a lift!
  • Make phone calls. Similarly, many nonprofits are now conducting much of their business via phone or email, and they do not have the capacity to answer or make the number of calls and emails required to meet the needs of their target populations. Contact your local charities and see how you can use your voice to aid in their mission.
  • Help your neighbors. Many communities have pages in the Next Door app, and you may be able to find folks in your own backyard who could use your help. If you can cut grass, shovel snow, fetch the mail, do a grocery run, or leave prepared food on someone's porch for their family, you may be just what they need to get through this.
  • Give blood. Seriously. In most places, the donation rate has gone WAY down. If you are able, consider donating blood. One donation can make a difference in as many as six lives.
  • Offer a community class. Do you have a hobby or special skill that you'd love to share? Consider hosting a community class! Online classes are a way to bring folks together, and what better way to meet new people with similar interests than to host a class on something you know well and love?
  • "Sell a Skill" as a fundraiser. Do you have a skill that others could use? Offer your skill for a donation and raise money for your favorite nonprofit!
  • Buy from small businesses. Whenever you can, opt for local, small businesses. These folks are hit the hardest and every penny helps them keep their doors open.
But what about my religious community? Here's a few ways to connect to your church while in-person services are suspended:
  • Write liturgy. There is a lot of pressure on religious groups to produce wonderful online rituals; however, the process of creating, setting up, hosting, and managing technology for online services is not as easy as you might think. If you are a prayer composer, you may be able to help your local congregation by generating written material for them.
  • Send Greeting Cards. If you think you are feeling the isolation, consider that the other members of your congregation are feeling the same. Sending letters, greeting cards, or small presents not only makes them feel remembered and loved, it also supports the local post office!
  • Host social meetings. Your church leaders are probably stretched thin and do not have time to attend to the social needs of the congregation. If you have the time and desire, hosting a social gathering for your group might be just what the community ordered!
No matter what you decide to do, finding ways to reach out, to connect, and to provide for the needs of those around you will help you keep your head and heart in a healthy place during this time of social distance and isolation. When all else fails, contact those with whom you usually serve and ask, "What do you need?"

No comments: