Uncertainty has been the only consistent in the past few weeks. It is hard to know what to do, and in a global crisis as massive as COVID-19, it is easy to find oneself feeling powerless. Luckily there are many opportunities to make an impact locally. Here are five:
1. Be safe. First and foremost, follow instructions from city and state officials and guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means social distancing, self-isolation, and strict health protocol. For information visit the CDC website here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
2. Donate blood. Currently, the American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage as fears of the coronavirus rise. Low donor participation could harm blood availability at hospitals and the last thing any patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be available. If you are 16 years or older, you can donate! In Burlington, one can donate blood at Burlington Blood Donation Center, 32 North Prospect Street. Call ahead (1-800-733-2767) or visit www.redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment.
3. Donate to your local food bank. Many Vermonters are experiencing a significant loss of income as businesses layoff or furlough workers. This creates serious hardship, including food insecurity. Donating to the foodbank is one of the best ways to help. The Vermont Foodbank has launched a “COVID-19 Hunger Relief Fund” to help provide nutritious food to the many who have been hit hard by the virus, and ensure no one goes hungry. To read about their mission and to donate click here
4. Volunteer/donate for Meals on Wheels. A great way to ensure seniors have access to food is by supporting Meals on Wheels, a nonprofit that delivers meals and groceries to seniors. As leaving the house is potentially life-threatening for seniors, supporting Meals on Wheels is a great way to ensure older-folks get fed. Age Well, located in Essex VT, is the largest provider of Meals on Wheels in Vermont. To donate or volunteer (yes, you can volunteer if you are under 18) click here.
5. Support local businesses! Countless local businesses have been forced to close their doors indefinitely due to COVID-19. This causes tremendous financial hardship. To help support these establishments, consider purchasing a gift card to use once they reopen. Giving money now, while times are especially hard, will help businesses make it through this tough period. Also, continue to support restaurants by ordering takeout (and tipping generously).