The coronavirus has already caused so much destruction nationwide—not only among the many who have fallen ill, but also among those who are suffering from businesses closing and those who are struggling financially. While the news cycle has been filled with reports of fearful people panicking and hoarding necessities, countless stories have emerged of mutual love and care—especially between neighbors.
Would you like to reach out to your local community? If you’re not sure how to, consider these recent news stories a perfect source of inspiration. Let these good deeds serve as a reminder that even during this period of social distancing, people have found a variety of creative ways to reach out—or even just to lighten the mood of others during these dark times.
1. Do door-side drop-offs and check-ins
Like many others, Amy McDonald decided to help her elderly neighbors in Fishers, IN, by dropping off groceries for them. She knew that could help lower their levels of exposure to the coronavirus, but what she didn’t realize was that she could in fact be saving someone’s life.
As USA Today reports, McDonald’s 89-year-old neighbor, Jo Trimble, was having strange, flulike symptoms when McDonald arrived at her home to drop off some provisions she’d asked for. Not wanting to leave her alone, McDonald stayed with her neighbor as they waited for paramedics.
It turned out that Trimble didn’t have the flu, or the coronavirus—she was having a heart attack. Luckily, she was able to get to the hospital in time to have a life-saving surgery.
It’s a good reminder that our neighbors may need someone to check in on them, whether for groceries, illness, or whatever reason.
2. Make the best of canceled events
During this epidemic, many people have had to postpone vacations, weddings, and other celebrations. But when one young New Yorker named Jordana Shmidman had to postpone her bat mitzvah, she decided to turn this unfortunate situation into an opportunity to help others.
According to Insider, the food for the event had already been prepared, but Shmidman and her family didn’t want it to go to waste. So they asked the caterers to divide the food into boxes so they could deliver it to families in quarantine in the area.
This proves that while so many events have been postponed or canceled, thoughtfulness and kindness are definitely still on the schedule. And in the end, Shmidman still managed to share her special day with loved ones, livestreaming her bat mitzvah online.
3. Give an impromptu performance
In Italy, many amazing operatic performances have been canceled during the countrywide lockdown. That didn’t stop one tenor, Maurizio Marchini, however, from stepping onto his balcony and serenading his neighbors with Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.”
And he isn’t the only one treating his neighbors to some tunes. One DJ in Palermo, Italy, lit up the night with some beats.
In Barcelona, Spain, a pianist on his balcony was joined by a nearby saxophonist for an ad hoc duet of “My Heart Will Go On.” It might not be classic opera, but the healing powers of music apply to all kinds of tastes.
As Marchini explained to Fox News, “Music can lift spirits, and now there are many people who are suffering.”
4. Write letters to your local nursing home
In an effort to combat the coronavirus, nursing homes across the nation are putting heavy restrictions on visits from family and friends. This may be saving residents from being infected, but it’s leaving many seniors feeling isolated.
Meanwhile, with many public schools closed, kids are stuck at home, bored and with little to do. That’s why one family with four young siblings in Westminster, MA—Madilyn, 10, Olivia, 9, Cameron, 7 and Jack, 4—decided to start writing letters and drawing pictures to nursing home residents across the state.
“The kids love to do anything arts and crafts, and thinking about how stressed everybody is, [we] thought, ‘What can we do to make everybody happy? How can we help?'” their mother, Vanessa France, told Good Morning America.
My girls are being creative today! They made cards for the nursing home and senior apartments to let the elderly know we are thinking about them. Hope others do the same thing. Just put them in a plastic bag outside the building and they will deliver them for you. pic.twitter.com/FGGQZgicUV
— sarah Halbesma (@Halbese) March 18, 2020
The idea has since spread far and wide, embraced by old and young alike. At a nursing home in Sterling Village, MA, Michele Morin explains, “Letters from the children will bring them joy and will hopefully comfort them during this difficult time. … We will also be encouraging our residents to write the children back.”
5. Become a virtual volunteer
When Kathy Green, a resident of Birmingham, AL, heard that a hospital was asking neighbors to help sew face masks, she decided to rally the troops. Green started a Facebook group to organize local residents who were up to the task of sewing and distributing their homemade masks to those who needed them.
“I felt like I thought there was going to be a need and that it was probably too big for me to manage through email, so I started a Facebook group,” Green told Fox 8. The group soon grew to a community of 1,300 volunteers, proving that helping out can be as simple as finding a way to contribute from the comfort of your couch.
6. Create some inspiring window art
— Kirsty Hall (@kirstyahall) March 21, 2020
While kids can no longer go to school, they can still do school assignments, and one project in particular has taken off.
“We did not want it all to be doom and gloom for the children,” Shona Richardson, head teacher at a school in Rosewell, Scotland, told the BBC. That’s why her school launched a campaign to encourage students to paint rainbows to display in their windows.
“We thought this would be a really visual way of bringing hope at a time when there is not much out there.”
The trend has since spread to windows across England—a colorful message for neighbors passing by—showing that even kids can do their part.
7. Hold a different kind of block party
While most of the country has been holed up inside, the residents of Greiner Street in Eugene, OR, are making special accommodations to visit with their neighbors. One night, the neighbors arranged to have a dinner party, all from their individual front yards.
Some ordered pizza to enjoy on their front steps, and others went all out, marking the occasion by setting up a dining table complete with a tablecloth.
“We just wanted a way to communicate with one another when we can’t give each other hugs,” Mary Lou Vignola told the Register-Guard. “Just to be social when we’re being isolated.”
8. Celebrate birthdays from afar
People may be keeping their social distance, but that doesn’t mean we have to skip celebrating together.
Case in point: One inspiring Spanish video taken in Madrid shows neighbors singing happy birthday to a woman named Charo on her 80th birthday. The neighbors had placed a cake at her door and told her to look outside for a surprise.
When Charo found the cake, she began to cry as her neighbors started to sing her “Happy Birthday.” Talk about a sweet surprise!