First came a socially distanced Thanksgiving. Now, in northern Michigan, we are looking at a socially distanced holiday season and (probably) New Year. When the advice comes to stay indoors, stay apart from others, and avoid crowds, how can you give back? Here are six ways you can stay connected to your community during the Pandemic Pause.
1. Check in on the seniors you know, love, or live near. Vulnerable populations are especially isolated during this year, avoiding not just the flu but also COVID-19. Give them a call to say hi, to see if they are able to get groceries or medications, and to provide a friendly voice. If you have the capacity, volunteer to call a senior for social outreach through Kindness Calls. Our partnership with Area Agency on Aging Northwest Michigan provides a third-party line that you call into, and it connects you with a senior who wants connection. Check out our website for more information and to sign up www.uwnwmi.org.
2. Food insecurity is more of an issue now than ever before, as we are 9 months into a pandemic that is drastically impacting businesses such as retail and restaurants. Consider donating food to a local food pantry. Call ahead to see what they are accepting or in need of, and make someone’s holiday a little more filling.
3. Send a postcard or letter to someone who could use a smile. Many of us are spending holidays with a much smaller group, or mourning those we may have lost. Sending a quick note to say we are thinking of them can brighten their day. If you need ideas or even groups to write to, check out our letter-writing campaigns on our website.
4. If you have the capability, consider giving back to the community. Many charities and churches have donation needs for local families, and nonprofits like Goodwill, Women’s Resource Center, and Salvation Army accept gently used clothes and household items. Little Free Libraries around town are a good place for children and adult books, where others can browse and borrow what you are done reading.
5. Staying active this winter can be a benefit for your neighborhood. As we are homebound during this pause, it can be difficult to get in necessary physical activity. After heavy snowfall, consider not only shoveling your driveway, but also the sidewalk, maybe even a neighbor’s driveway. During great packing snow, build a jolly snowman. Enlist your neighbors for a friendly competition- who can build the biggest snowman? The funniest snowman? A little levity can help us all out.
6. Take a pause. During the pause, it’s ok to also pause. Reflect on the difficulties of the year, and maybe even the joys that you can find among the hardship. A pause now with promise on the horizon can lead to a truly thankful and peaceful holiday season.