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Simple ways to help in the age of shelter-in-place

Over the past several weeks, we’ve spent significantly more time at home. We’ve also avoided non-essential travel, which means we’re staying local more than ever before. As a result, many of us have had the opportunity to re-engage with our communities in profound ways. 

Whether it’s sharing information about store hours on social media sites or pitching in to sew masks — we’re all rising to the occasion. If you’re looking for more ideas on how to be a good neighbor in the age of shelter-in-place, keep reading. Many of these practices are helpful to others during the current situation, and you might find yourself continuing them long-term, too. 

Use NextDoor to offer assistance

If you’d like to help neighbors in your immediate area, connect with them on NextDoor. Volunteer to deliver essentials to the immunocompromised or to parents of young children who can’t leave the home. You can also create a parent tutoring network in which parents use expertise in their respective fields to help kids with homework questions.

Replenish Little Free Libraries

The library might be closed, but Little Free Libraries remain accessible. Community members like yourself can replenish them with gently used books, magazines, or movies. It’s not just for kids, either — adults can leave books for one another, too.

Moderate a running list of open businesses

Local businesses in your area are doing their best to stay afloat, and many are still operating. Help spread the word by moderating a running list of open businesses on NextDoor or other community pages. You can also encourage local business owners to submit their businesses’ details to Patch’s new nationwide coronavirus business directory.

Sew masks or teach others how to do it

Masks are still in high demand, and any you make can be donated to local nursing homes, doctors’ offices, or neighbors. If you’re savvy with both a sewing machine and social media, you can host an online class on how to make masks. Stream the tutorial through Facebook Live on your town’s page or share a Zoom invite with neighbors on NextDoor. 

Leave snacks and water for delivery drivers

Delivery drivers are working overtime to save us trips to the store. Show them you care by assembling a crate on your porch with shelf-stable snacks or water bottles. This way, they can grab a bite to eat or drink of water without interrupting their delivery schedule. Kids can also pitch in to show their appreciation by leaving handmade cards or drawings.

Bring home-baked goods to first responders

Put your baking skills to good use and make homemade treats to bring to first responder stations or hospitals. From cakes to brownies to chocolate chip cookies, it’s one way to show your appreciation that will definitely be enjoyed the same day — and will give them a much-needed, well-deserved boost. 

Leave positive reviews for local businesses

If you’re shopping local to show your support, take it to the next level and leave the business a positive review on Yelp, Google, HomeAdvisor, or their Facebook page. It’s an easy way to continue your patronage by promoting local business, plus you can even sing their praises on your own social media and tag them in your posts. 

Make donations to local food pantries

Local food pantries are still operating to cover the needs of the food insecure, and you can help, too. Make a donation of shelf-stable items, like canned foods or packaged snacks, or pick up extra perishables the pantry needs to make fresh meals. You can also volunteer to cook, hand out meals, or organize a porch donation drive.

Donate items to nursing homes

Even if you don’t have a relative in your town’s nursing home, you can still connect to make a difference. Round up board games, movies, books, or art supplies to share with residents who are looking for fun activities to keep busy. You can also partner with the nursing home director to organize a town-wide drive to assemble resident care packages. 

Start a neighbor text chain to save grocery trips

There’s always something you forget to get at the grocery store, and for now, it can be more difficult to pop in for a single item. Start a neighbor text chain to save one another unnecessary trips to the store.

Adopt a senior resident in your area

If you know an older resident in your neighborhood, their family might live too far away to drop off essentials. Check in on them to see if there’s anything they need. While they might have groceries covered, only some pharmacies make deliveries — in which case you can handle medication runs for them. 


Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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