By: Sandi Parkhurst
COVID-19 is hanging over our community like a dark cloud. The air might be sparkling a brilliant blue with the smell of freshly mown lawn, but it certainly feels like a dystopian version of Spring. Things have been turned upside down. Our community is scrambling. Businesses closed. Schools shut down. Anxiety permeating our collective subconscious.
How do we help our community during these times? Typical ways to serve may be off the table but there are still plenty of ways you can give back and help others in a less conventional way.
Virtual Ways to Help
- Virtual volunteering – virtual volunteering is a great way to make a huge difference while also flattening the curve. Virtual volunteer opportunities can be found in many places including NV Volunteer Connect, Volunteer Match, and more in this GMA article.
- Do some spring cleaning and sell your items online and donate the money raised
- Teach a virtual class online, invite all your friends, and ask that they donate to your chosen charity
- Attend and support virtual events in our area for local artists and makers, engage with their posts on social media, share them, or even decorate your house with a few new pieces!
- Share a fundraiser for your favorite nonprofit on social media
- Share a post about local restaurants you know that are still doing takeout! Just a blurb from your page might help them land another very vital purchase right now.
- Use the Charity Miles app and have a corporate sponsor donate to a charity on your behalf for every mile you bike/run/walk
- Ask your social media fans to donate to your social media fundraiser in return for you doing something whacky! If 5 people all donate $50, record yourself doing a weird challenge, dance, pie in the face, or haircut.
Financial Ways to Help
- Partner with local restaurants to help support our treasured local eateries AND the Eddy House (two birds, one donation)! The Eddy House feeds and houses at-risk youth in Nevada and helps them develop life and job skills to set them up for a successful future. They take donated meals year-round but by supporting local restaurants you can provide a dual benefit! Visit their Calendar and contact Gilly or Yvette for more details. Here are the restaurants they’ve
- Donate to Feed Our Heroes, the brainchild of a local group of Reno medical professionals and restaurant owners who have joined forces to serve meals to local ERs and first responders and support Reno restaurants.
- Donate to a COVID relief fund such as the UNWNNS Emergency Assistance Fund or the Community Foundation of Western Nevada. The United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierras have created an Emergency Assistance Fund where 100% of all donations are used to offer emergency relief and resources northern Nevadans most in need. The Community Foundation Relief Fund is currently focusing on providing relief to healthcare professionals in our region.
- Donate or volunteer safely with our Northern Nevada Food Bank
- Support Communities in Schools, a leading nonprofit focused on providing resources and support to the most vulnerable students in school districts with high dropout rates. They have a huge need for brand new tablets and laptops as well as hot spots or MiFi devices for students to complete distance learning activities. They are also in need of at-home games and activities and other student support.
- Purchase gift cards to your favorite local eatery, hairdresser, massage therapist, or local business (think of it as a mini interest-free loan you can cash in on when the shutdown is over)
- Offer to pay or tip your service people even if they aren’t working for you right now
- Support our local SPCA and Humane Society! The SPCA’s largest need is for monetary donations (through May 5th they have a donor offering to match every donation dollar for dollar). The Humane Society’s COVID response is focused on getting adoptions, emergency foster families, and donations.
- Shop early if you are able. Start getting your beach day necessities, birthday presents, fall shopping, or even those Christmas gifts! Try not to buy things that need to be shipped though, because workers in shipping are overworked and understaffed right now.
Physical Ways to Help
- Donate blood. There is a huge shortage of blood right now due to the cancellation of blood drives. Healthy individuals interested in donating can find a local Red Cross blood drive at this link.
- Sew personal protective equipment (PPE) for local hospitals. Renown is accepting home-sewn PPE including everything from masks to isolation gowns and you can find the criteria they are accepting here: COVID-19 Donations. Saint Mary’s Regional is also accepting donations of PPE, sanitizing supplies, and air-purifying respirators.
- Call your elderly neighbors and ask if you can grocery shop for them when you go out and do your own shopping
- Donate any extra N-95 masks you may have. Contact the FEMA Operations Center at firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate your gift
- Deliver meals/groceries to seniors in your neighborhood by volunteering with Meals on Wheels
- Start focusing on environmentally friendly habits like starting a garden or composting with your local compost company
- Grab some extra items (non-perishable food, first aid, and toiletries) when you do your COVID grocery run and drop them in a Karma Box around town.
- Give your family and friends a call to see how they are doing and brighten their day
During these rapidly evolving and extremely turbulent times, giving to others can be a wonderful way to support the community and bring some joy into your own day. As always, Reno Tahoe YPN is wishing you and yours health and well-being. Take care!