As COVID-19 continues to sweep across the United States, many have been forced to self-quarantine and isolate themselves from others in an attempt to slow the spread of the highly transmittable disease and “flatten the curve.” After New York, California and Illinois issued “stay-at-home” orders, it seems impossible to do anything except sit at home and watch news about the increasingly worsening pandemic.
Being quarantined at home, however, does not mean that you have to be isolated from your community. Online classes have begun, for most schools, and the pandemic seems to have no visible end in sight. For high schoolers, it can be difficult to know how exactly you can best help your community during times like these. There are many ways to get involved and help others during the outbreak, and all from the comfort of your own home. Dealing with a pandemic such as this means that we all need to work our hardest to come together for the good of humanity, and there are a variety of ways to do that.
The easiest way, of course, to help those across the country deal with such a crisis is to donate to organizations that help others. Nonprofit organizations such as Feeding America, which helps fund food banks and Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to the elderly, are essential in time like this and help millions of people across the country.
For the politically inclined, there are ways to help, too. Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has stopped asking for donations to his campaign and is, instead, asking supporters to donate money through his website to five different charities – Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, One Fair Wage Emergency Fund, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance – raising almost $2 million dollars in two days.
You can also help support places such as local businesses and restaurants that are closed right now through donations as well. Help Main Street is a non-profit organization that allows you to buy gift cards to small businesses across the country, helping keep those places afloat.
For those who want to help the most at-risk populations such as the elderly and the immuno-compromised, the best way to do that is to offer to buy essential items for them such as groceries and medications so that they do not have to go out and put themselves at risk.
If you want to help your community and those you love, reaching out and offering to help is usually the best solution. Youth organizations such as USY are doing online events that you can offer to help with, and simply being in attended (albeit, virtually) helps keep those organizations alive. The Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest is accepting donations for the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, which will allow for continued support for those who are in need.”
Another way to help is to stop stockpiling goods such as hand sanitizer, and face masks, so that those who actually need those supplies such as health care workers and those currently affected can have access to them. Similarly, running the grocery store shelves and buying every roll of toilet paper and paper towels in sight is harmful to those who can only afford to buy one roll at a time or others who will also need those items.
In terms of helping “flatten the curve” the most effective way to decrease the risk of both infecting yourself and others is to stay at home, avoid seeing anyone, and, of course, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently for at least twenty seconds with soap and running water. And, if you are feeling unwell and think you may be having symptoms of COVID-19, try to remain away from people to avoid putting others at risk.
This is a time for us to come together as one and help eliminate the risk of coronavirus. The more we work together and help others, the more we can end this crisis and continue on with our daily lives. It’s important to think of others and the ways that you can help them not only during times like these, but especially when life goes back to normal.
Samantha Rigante is a junior at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J.