It’s been 9 long weeks since we went into lockdown, so the Governor’s announcement this week that we can start to open things up will be very welcome to many who have been struggling physically, mentally, and financially. However that light at the end of the tunnel may still be a way off, with many stage gates and regulations to work through before stores, restaurants, schools, and services can get back to anything like normal. So what can we do in the meantime? We put together five simple things we as individuals can do to support the communities we live in.
It goes without saying that once the local stores and restaurants in your town are fully open you would support them whenever you can. But many businesses have innovated and remodeled their business plan to stay in operation even with the lockdown restrictions. Restaurants offer takeout, stores offer virtual shopping, hair salons sell products online, photographers offer gift cards to be redeemed at a later date. All of these initiatives can help them stay afloat and still be around to open up when allowed. Your local Chamber of Commerce is a good place to find lists of businesses that are offering services at this time. For example, in Winchester they have launched shop01890.com, a website where you can search by business type or name to find stores, restaurants, and services. Melrose has a list of all its members and if they have curbside pick up, delivery, gift cards or other offers. Arlington Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the town to play “Shop Local Bingo”, encouraging residents to patronize local businesses and possibly win a $100 gift certificate.
As the lockdown has continued and many people have been furloughed or even lost their jobs, the demand on local food banks has increased dramatically. In addition, with children no longer in school many have lost access to their only guaranteed meal of the day. Organizations such as Winchester Got Lunch and Arlington EATS have stepped up their operations to try and bridge this gap, but they require donations (of food and money) to keep up with demand. Picking up an extra box of mac n cheese, jar of peanut butter, or box of cereal next time you are shopping can make the world of difference to a family who is struggling. Read our recent blog to find out about other organizations in your area and where you can drop your donations safely.
Emergency surgery, certain cancer treatments, and critical transfusions have still been taking place during the pandemic, but with the stay-home order drop-in blood drives were canceled and donations have fallen. Many people wrongly assumed that donations were not possible, but with supplies dwindling it’s as important as ever that healthy donors continue to make appointments. The American Red Cross has great information on their website about the extra precautions that they are taking during the coronavirus outbreak, and they can help you find your nearest donation center.
Volunteering can be a truly rewarding experience, as well as a fantastic way to give back to your community. Despite the restrictions, there are still many opportunities to give back in this way, although some will look a bit different from before - maybe you will be helping to man a phone helpline, or packing goods wearing a mask and gloves. Contact Boston Cares to get matched with an opportunity to suit your availability and comfort level.
Throughout this crisis those classed as essential workers have continued to keep our community running. Alongside healthcare workers, those working in grocery stores, mail workers, delivery drivers, police officers, firefighters, DPW workers, cable technicians, and numerous others have been going to work, often in difficult circumstances. Why not take a moment to show your appreciation for their efforts - you could write a letter, have the kids make a poster, or simply say “thanks” next time you see them. If you want to go further, check your local residents' Facebook group or email list - some towns have set up regular food deliveries to workers at local hospitals and will happily accept donations.