Although life has changed for many people because of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, people are finding creative and even inspiring ways to adapt and overcome. Just consider these ways that you can support local companies and members of your local community to remind them -- and yourself -- that we're in this together.
Many small businesses remain open, even if they are operating under different procedures. For example, some mom-and-pop stores are providing curbside pickup while restaurants make have moved to a takeout-only model. Shoppers can still frequent their favorite stores as long as they're willing to pick up. You can call ahead with your order and once you reach the parking lot to pick up your order.
Similarly, many of these companies now offer delivery, and some for the first time! It's a way to keep staff employed in these uncertain times. It isn't just limited to restaurants, either. Even some pet stores are participating. And delivery services such as DoorDash, InstaCart, and EatStreet, among others, are as busy as ever delivering hot meals and even fresh groceries to consumers, and several are offering discounted or free delivery for a limited time.
For services, check if your provider is working online or over the phone. For example, mental health providers, who are sometimes contractors and not facility employees, can provide telehealth services to community members. Tutoring, yoga, physical trainers, financial planners, and music instructors are among the job fields that have moved online amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Not everyone is aware that companies are still open, so you can help spread the word by sharing their social media posts, images, and menus online. If your local Chamber of Commerce maintains a list of restaurants, cafes, and other shops that remain open during quarantine, you can share that, too. Word of mouth is crucial to ensuring that our communities make it through this difficult time.
Those people with social media and other online marketing skills can assist local companies that may not have a strong online presence as well. Web developers and designers may also lend a hand. And people without these specific skills can create a page or group where a local business can provide people with updates and discounts or promotions.
Make sure to tip and tip well when you can. Many employees are struggling to pay the bills with fewer hours or a partner out of work, and it's likely going to be this way for a while.
Of course, not all businesses are open right now, but customers can show support by purchasing gift cards or credits that they will be able to use once the business reopens. Doing so ensures those small business owners still have a source of income.
Not only are some companies providing their typical services, but a few have stepped up their services specifically to deal with the COVID-19 threat. This may mean that your local dry cleaner now offers disinfecting services or that cleaners offer deep-clean services for your home.
Small businesses can also provide consumers with much-needed goods such as hand soap, sanitizer, and nontoxic supplies to care for your home and family. While your local farmer's market might be closed, your local farmer may still have fresh dairy and produce and those hard-to-find eggs!
If you find yourself with an abundance of supplies, whether that might be hand sanitizer, or toilet paper, or something else, consider donating it to the people and organizations that need it the most, especially those involved in healthcare and other vital services. Consider if you can lend your crocheting, sewing, or other crafty talents to create items such as masks or even clothing that people need and may not be able to find due to hoarders and store closures.
As long as your budget allows, you should keep paying these members of your community. Consider a bonus, gift card, or another financial gift to providers, even if they are unable to continue working due to sickness, caring for their own family, or quarantine rules. This includes gym and similar memberships. Continue paying for canceled classes if it's financially feasible. Whenever possible, donate to your neighbors and local companies. If it's safe to do so, give your time and helping hands.
Of course, you may not be in a position where you can do much, which is why reaching out to friends and neighbors, especially those who may live alone or were already isolated, is so vital during these times. If your recipient is tech-savvy, a video chat via Facetime or Skype can remind them that you care. Otherwise, pick up the phone and let them hear the warmth in your voice. In trying times, sometimes, all we have is one another, but it is this sense of togetherness that helps us prevail.