Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Service Projects to Do While Self-Isolating

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By: Lillabeth B. 

We are living in a peculiar time in history.  Everyone’s experience is different as we collectively cope with the loneliness and frustration that comes with self-isolation.  Those with the privilege to do so are quarantined in their homes and working online.  Some find themselves drowning in schoolwork or other responsibilities, such as looking after siblings or children; others find themselves drowning in boredom, looking for an activity to spice up the monotony of the past weeks. 
If the latter applies to you, this period could provide the perfect opportunity to give back to your community. Now more than ever, small but meaningful acts of service completed at home could provide a connection to the outside world while helping those who are suffering, such as healthcare workers struggling to stay safe or children who rely on school lunches for a good meal. These small projects can give purpose to days that seem to blend together more and more. 
However, if the former applies to you, if you feel pressured by social media to be more productive despite the fact that your plate is already full, please do not feel obligated to take on more responsibilities. It is often said that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else and those words hold true even now. We must be kind to one another, but we also must be kind to ourselves. 
With that being said, let’s jump into these suggestions for service projects to do while we are all stuck at home! 

Spreading Positivity in Your Neighborhood 
This period of self-isolation provides an opportunity to bring neighbors together in spirit. Here are some fun projects to spread cheer in your community: 

  • Organize a Teddy Bear Hunt 
Inspired by the 1989 children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, neighborhoods around the world are dressing up their childhood stuffed animals and displaying them in their windows, thereby creating a scavenger hunt-like adventure for homebound children. For more information: https://time.com/5809613/bear-hunts-coronavirus/. 

  • Paint Kindness Rocks 
The Kindness Rocks project has been all the rage over the past few years, with many groups painting positive messages on small rocks and hiding them in public places. The Lime Green Giraffe staff even contributed! Now, the trend is making a comeback. The idea is simple: find or purchase rock (normally about 3x2 inches), paint uplifting images and/or words of encouragement, and place the rocks around your neighborhood for others to find and enjoy! For more information and inspiration, check out https://www.thekindnessrocksproject.com/home. 

  • Beautify Your Driveway 
An easy and fun way to brighten someone’s day: draw on your driveway or sidewalk with chalk! Freestyle a fun drawing or if you’re less artistically inclined, use painter’s tape to create a color blocking pattern: https://www.theidearoom.net/sidewalk-chalk-art/. 

Supporting Healthcare Workers 
This is a scary time for all of us but especially for essential healthcare workers. While they put their lives on the line so that we might be safer, here are a few ways to lend them a hand. 

  • Make and Donate Masks 
As the pandemic spreads, most healthcare workers lack access to the equipment they need to do their job safely. Fabric store chain Joann is sponsoring an initiative to sew and donate cloth masks to healthcare workers. The first step is to make one yourself instead of using disposable masks--check out LGGer Zora’s video tutorial!--but if you would like to donate homemade masks, make sure they meet CDC standards. Find more information here: https://www.joann.com/make-to-give-response/. 

  • Support Restaurants that Donate Meals to Healthcare Workers 
Many local restaurants are participating in initiatives to provide healthcare workers with meals, such as Murphy’s in Atlanta (https://murphysatlanta.com/). Supporting these restaurants by buying takeout or donating could help them survive this difficult time for small businesses so they can continue to provide these services. To find participating restaurants across the country, visit https://www.themealbridge.com/. 

  • Donate Blood 
The Red Cross has recently announced that they are running out of donated blood. If you are 17 years old or 16 years old with your parent/guardian’s consent, depending on your state, this is another way to make a difference. For more information about teen requirements, look here: https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/info-for-student-donors.html. To schedule a blood donation, look here: https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/dlp/coronavirus--covid-19--and-blood-donation.html. 

Crafts for Those in Need 
Many find that self-isolation gives them time to explore artistic interests. Channel that urge into crafts that will brighten someone’s day: 

Combatting Food Insecurity 
Since most schools have shut down, many students who do not have dependable access to food have lost their only reliable food source, free school lunches. Here’s how you can help: 

  • Little Free Pantry 
You may have heard of Little Free Libraries, birdhouse-like structures found in public places where passers-by can leave and take books. The Little Free Pantry is a similar concept. Community members can leave non-perishable foods and take food from the pantry if they are in need. If you would like to start one in your neighborhood, find more information at http://www.littlefreepantry.org/. 

  • Donate to local food banks 
Most food banks are still taking donations and providing pick-up or delivery services to families in need. Donating money, if you or your parents are able to do so, gives food banks the versatility to buy what they need. If donating food is easier for you, products in high demand include: 
      • Tomato Products 
      • Dried Beans 
      • Corn 
      • Canned Meat/Fish 
      • Canned Beans 
      • Pasta 
      • Chili 

  • Support Local Restaurants 
Many local restaurants are giving away free meals to organizations such as Meal on Wheels or directly to families in need. Research restaurants in your area that are participating, and order take-out from those places if you can. Most restaurants are already struggling to make ends meet during this time, but they are donating meals in spite of this strain. For example, in Roswell, GA, Table & Main is distributing free hot meals to the needy; Fifth Group restaurant group in Atlanta--which includes restaurants such as La Tavola Trattoria, South City Kitchen, and Lure--donates to organizations like the Giving Kitchen; and in Forsyth County, Socks’ Love Barbecue is also providing and delivering meals to those in need.  

More Nonprofits 
If you are in a position to donate money, nonprofits that supported the food-insecure long before the pandemic are continuing to do so now. 

Bibliography 
Barkley, Regina. “A Community Relief Effort for the Newly Food Insecure.” ROSWELL MAGAZINE, ROSWELL MAGAZINE, 9 Apr. 2020, www.myroswellmagazine.com/read/table-and-aid-free-meals-for-the-newly-food-insecure. 
North Fulton Community Charities. “NFCC Food Pantry.” NFCC, 2020, nfcchelp.org/food-bank/. 
Picard, Lia. “COVID-19: How You Can Help Those in Need in Atlanta.” Atlanta Magazine, 26 Mar. 2020, www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/covid-19-how-you-can-help-those-in-need-in-atlanta/. 
Youth Service America. “Ideas to Act for the Common Good During Coronavirus Crisis.” Ysa.org, 2020, ysa.org/covid/. 
Yuska, Molly. “13 Fun, Kid-Friendly Projects to Help Others from Home.” Project Giving Kids, 23 Mar. 2020, www.projectgivingkids.org/blog/13-fun-kid-friendly-projects-for-service-and-social-distance/. 

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