Feeling Lost or Powerless in the Face of COVID-19? Try Giving Back

The other day, I was at my computer working when I received a text from someone sharing really scary and bad news about COVID-19. The message completely derailed my concentration, sending me from work mode to a place of fear, sadness and hopelessness.

My eyes filled with tears, thinking about how little control we all have when it comes to this vicious, cruel pandemic that’s causing such devastation in our world. But then, about a half hour later, I saw this post on a friend’s Facebook page:

If anyone is not working/not getting a paycheck and runs out of food, for you, your children or your pets, please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to drop a bag of groceries at your door. I will confidentially drop and go with no direct contact for everyone’s safety. We are all human and we are all in this together.

Right then, it hit me. While the uncontrollable can feel overwhelmingly scary and depressing, there is something that the pandemic cannot steal from any of us: love. Our hearts give us the instinctive will to help one another, to give back, and to bond together while we ride out the storm.

My friend’s Facebook post is one of hundreds of gestures I’ve seen as people give back and help each other during COVID-19. Here are other acts of love I’ve come across from North Shore residents and businesses:

  • A local catering company converted its business to making meals for homeless and low-income families, and frontline workers.
  • Fitness instructors are creating free online classes, including yoga, strength, Zumba and kick boxing, to encourage people to stay physically and emotionally healthy through exercise.
  • Groups of people are donating blood.
  • A young girl designed 300 cheerful lawn signs and sold them to raise money for local food pantries.
  • Groups of people are sewing masks and either selling the masks and donating the proceeds or donating masks to those in need, including hospital workers, firefighters, seniors, and immunocompromised residents.

  • Groups of people are sewing masks and either selling the masks and donating the proceeds or donating masks to those in need, including hospital workers, firefighters, seniors, and immunocompromised residents.
  • A nonprofit organization is providing electronic devices to low-income kids who need them for remote learning.
  • Teachers at a grade school are putting out yard signs to send inspiring messages to their students.
  • Business owners are dropping off meals and treats like bags of popcorn, cake pops, smiley-face cookies, and other baked goods to hospital workers.

 

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  • A business owner is assisting seniors with grocery delivery and has turned his restaurant into an extension of a local food pantry.
  • A nonprofit organization was started to connect medical students with hospital personnel to help them with grocery shopping, babysitting and other needs at no charge.
  • A local dad dresses up like a different character every day and walks around the neighborhood to entertain young kids.

There have been many articles written, offering tips for dealing with stress caused by the uncertainty of COVID-19. I’d like to offer what I think is one of the best tips for coping: give back.

It doesn’t have to be something big or time consuming or costly. Calling and checking on an elderly person, having food delivered to a senior who lives alone, making a donation of any size to a food pantry, writing a letter to someone you love, or getting involved as a volunteer with an organization about which you feel passionate. These acts are ways to throw goodness, love and thoughtfulness out into the world, and to make a difference in someone’s life. But giving also helps the giver.

I find that giving back has a calming effect. It can make you feel like you have some control, it can feel inspiring that you’re making a person’s life better, and it can give you a feeling of hope and connection.

Social distancing is heartbreaking, and can feel lonely and isolating. But think of it this way. It’s only human bodies that have to stay six feet away from each other. Our hearts are as close as they’ve ever been.


How to Help: 

Looking for ways to give back during this crisis? Participate in Giving Tuesday Now or support one of these local nonprofits. For even more ways to help, check out the list of deserving nonprofits on our Better List.


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Jackie Pilossoph is a former television journalist and newspaper features reporter. The author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially, Pilossoph is also the creator of the divorce support website, Divorced Girl Smiling. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers.