“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” -Matthew 25:40
After a week and a half of quarantine and more wide-spread testing, you might have started to settle a bit into your new reality. And now you’re wondering what you can do to help. While you are not a policy maker or the head of a hospital, you have the power to impact your neighbors, community, and friends in a positive way.
Part of the survival instinct is to circle the proverbial horses and take care of your own. But there are ways to reach out and help in tangible ways while also following the CDC guidelines and government mandates. Many of us cannot make a vaccine or bail out our favorite small business. But there are small steps we can take to generously care for our community and the most vulnerable.
Don’t try to do all of these at once. If you are able, start with one and then go from there.
You’ve heard this over and over, but it bears repeating. If you are able, please stay home. Thomas Fuller wrote in the New York Times daily email last week, “America is a very individualistic society, built on the idea of individual rights. So this is a big test… for America--the question being: Will people in America sacrifice individual liberty for the sake of the community?” It’s a sobering question, and one I ask you to wrestle with.
In his sermon this past Sunday, the senior pastor of my church said this:
On the one hand, there’s nothing more helpless and weak than prayer. You sit alone in a room, your body isn’t acting, in face we take our hands and place them in our lap. And all we do is speak words. There couldn’t be a more poignant symbols of human helplessness. And yet, precisely in that moment of helplessness, we’re tapping into the eternal power of God himself… It is precisely where our limitations and weakness slam into the power and the love and the grace of God.”Abe Cho
If there was ever a time for prayer, it is now. Pray big, bold prayers of healing. Pray the Psalms. Pray God’s promises and character. Pray for your neighbors, friends and family. Pray for the incarcerated, the immunocompromised, the chronically ill, the elderly. Pray for those who are isolated. My church is offering a daily time of prayer, which you can join here, during which we read passages of Scripture, and we are led through prayers for specific places and people.
Who do you know?
Chances are you have a friend who continues to be deeply impacted by this, as you have been. Do you know a nurse or doctor? Do you know someone in the restaurant or retail industry who has lost their job? Do you know someone who lost paid gigs? Offer to bring them a meal, or do their laundry, clean their apartment, or make a grocery run.
Put out a Social Media Blast
If you don’t know anyone and want to help, put out a blast on social media. Ask if anyone knows anyone who is vulnerable who needs groceries. Make sure to clarify that you’re offering to make a run to the store, not free groceries. Or start a GoFundMe for groceries or money for bills for the vulnerable and distribute it or use it to buy groceries for people in need.
Reach out to the infected
By now you probably know someone who is infected and is in quarantine for 14 days, assuming they are not hospitalized. FaceTime them, see if they need groceries, send them cookies or chicken noodle soup (being mindful of any dietary restrictions and allergies).
Check in regularly with those who live alone
If you live alone, create a buddy system where you’re checking in with someone on a daily basis. If you don’t, think about someone who does and set an alarm in your phone that will remind you to text them at a certain time each day
Find an Organization Already Serving the Vulnerable
If you’re in the city, check out this list from Hope For New York. They keep it up to date as to ways you can safely serve, and places you can send money. If you aren’t in NYC, reach out to your pastor or a local community leader and ask who has been reaching out to them with needs.
Contribute to a Relief Fund
My church has set up a relief fund to help those most affected by COVID-19. If your church hasn’t done so, or you aren’t part of a church, google local, established organizations that have. Look for organizations that serve the homeless, the elderly, food banks, or any at risk population.
Send flowers to a nursing home or hospital
Reach out to a local florist and see if they can send an arrangement to a local nursing home or to the hospital. You’ll help a local business that’s hurting, and you’ll bring hope and beauty to the isolated, desperate, and overworked. Most will let you include a card, on which you could write a brief message of encouragement.
Write to the incarcerated
Those in prison are among the most vulnerable, as they live in tight quarters and have a high rate of chronic illness. You don’t have to write the next Pulitzer, just a few words of encouragement--a prayer, a verse, or message of hope. Check out organizations that already serve this population and see if they can facilitate.
There are probably many other ways to serve, and a simple Google search will likely bring up articles and blogs with more ideas. But I hope that at the very least, this inspired you to come up with ideas of your own and challenged you to pray and stay home. Be well, y’all.