8 ways you can help your neighbor during coronavirus outbreak

single-meta-cal March 16, 2020

As coronavirus increases across the U.S., it’s easy to feel scared of the unknown.

While you take measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community, don’t forget the post-9/11 advice of Fred Rogers, creator and star of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

Rogers was right. In these uncertain times, the best thing we can do isn’t stockpile toilet paper or water, but look for ways to help each other.

Need ideas? Here’s how you can help your neighbors make it through the coming weeks:

  1. Stay home. What is social distancing? It means keeping a safe social distance to avoid being exposed or exposing other people to the virus. Even if you’re young and healthy, officials recommend staying about 6 feet from others and always covering your cough or sneeze. This also means avoiding large crowds. Follow the Alabama Department of Public Health’s guidance here.
  2. Feed the hungry. As coronavirus affects area schools and businesses, many people will need extra food assistance. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Food Bank of North Alabama is accepting drop-off food donations in a blue barrel in the lobby of 2000-B Vernon Ave. in Huntsville. You can also make a cash donation on their website. Click here for a list of other food assistance programs in our area.
  3. Shop small. Shopping local has never been more important than now. Many stores remain open to the public and will take orders over the phone so you don’t have to leave your house. Others have websites and social media accounts so you can shop online. Even if you can’t spend any extra money right now, “liking,” sharing or commenting on a retailer’s social media posts are great ways to support them without spending a dime.
  4. Give blood. Donating blood is always important, but especially during a health scare like COVID-19. To avoid a blood shortage, the American Red Cross is strongly urging healthy, eligible individuals to donate blood, platelets or AB plasma. LifeSouth also needs donations. Want to hold a blood drive? Businesses, churches and nonprofits can contact either of these organizations to start the process.
  5. Order takeout. Even in a COVID-19 outbreak, you still have to eat. Don’t forget about restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries and others that are struggling to make ends meet. To practice safe social distancing, call ahead or place an order online instead of dining in. If the business offers gift certificates, buy one now and use it later when things settle down. Many establishments also offer food delivery so you don’t have to travel anywhere. If you do go out, tip generously if possible.
  6. Donate money. When you’re not sure what to do, direct financial contributions are a great way to help during a crisis. Visit the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville or United Way of Madison County’s websites to find a local cause or entity you can support.
  7. Help the homeless. Many groups are stepping up their efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 within our homeless community. First Stop needs toilet paper, bottled water and hand sanitizer donations. Check in with the Downtown Huntsville Rescue Mission, Salvation Army and other organizations to see how you can help.
  8. Check on at-risk neighbors. Older adults and those with serious chronic medical conditions have a higher chance of getting very sick from coronavirus. If you can, check on at-risk neighbors to ensure they have what they need and are following CDC recommendations. With many nursing homes prohibiting outside contact, it’s also a good time to write letters to residents who can’t receive visitors.

Bonus: Roughly 143 million households will receive a 2020 Census form between March 12-20. With the ongoing COVID-19 scare, it’s more important than ever to fill out the 10-year survey. Why? Because leaders use Census data to make decisions impacting programs, services and infrastructure in our community.  The U.S. Census Bureau also provides data critical to emergency planning, preparedness and recovery.

If you’re working remotely or off work due to COVID-19, be sure to complete the Census and encourage others to do so as well. More info on HuntsvilleAL.gov/Census-2020.


A final note

Don’t forget that a little kindness goes a long way. Remember to “sanitize and separate” and follow reputable sources such as the CDC and ADPH for information. You can also stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news on HuntsvilleAL.gov/COVID19.