At the heart of Christianity is kinship, a sense of mutual connection and responsibility for one another. But just when our neighbors need it most, the new mandate of social distancing is challenging how we may normally practice kinship in times of crisis.
To help navigate this new landscape, our team has rounded up some easy ways you can support your community and foster relationships, even if you are high-risk or confined at home.
Here are 19 simple ways to love your neighbor in light of COVID-19:
- Shop local: Call local businesses and restaurants to ask whether they’re open, and how you can (safely) support them. Order delivery, merchandise, or a gift card online for future use.
- Give blood: Blood drives across the country have been cancelled, and the American Red Cross is reporting a severe shortage of blood. Contact your local Red Cross and find a location to donate.
- Support the people that serve you: Go ahead and send an online payment to your hairdresser, babysitter, dance teacher, or anyone who regularly serves you and is suddenly out of work now. A little Venmo, PayPal, or Apple Pay donation goes a long way.
- Tithe your essential supplies: If you were fortunate enough to buy extra toilet paper, wipes, disinfectant, and other essentials, consider donating 10 percent or more to needy neighbors, or local shelters.
- Shop for a senior: Offer to help shop for food and pick up medications for seniors and others at risk, or form a group to help. Here’s how one D.C. woman is doing it.
- Use the Nextdoor app: Sign in to the Nextdoor app to see if you have any neighbors who’ve posted requests for assistance. Neighbors across the country are using Nextdoor to connect and provide help.
- Support your local food bank: With schools closed, many children go hungry without their normal school breakfasts and lunches. Contact your food bank or other hunger assistance program to see how you can help.
- Support your local homeless shelter: The homeless are especially vulnerable with no place to quarantine and no way to practice good hygiene. Contact your shelter or homeless ministry to donate money or drop off supplies.
- Call someone on a regular basis: Being in isolation is especially hard for those who live alone and might feel cut off. Even a 15-minute FaceTime call can help a neighbor feel connected and loved.
- Tend to a teen: If you’re a grandparent, try FaceTiming your grandchildren, or if you’re a parent, sit down with your teens at home to help them cope with coronavirus-related anxiety. Use this helpful piece for tips.
- Send a pizza: Teachers, first-responders, even busy parents who are trying to work and homeschool their kids, could really use a simple gesture like a hot pizza delivery to brighten their day. Check out how one newsroom reacted to the kind gesture.
- Help your church prepare: Already, there’s a growing number of online resources to help churches prayerfully prepare for the COVID-19 crisis. Visit coronavirusandthechurch.com and share it with your pastor.
- Praise and worship: Put on a porch concert or sing a familiar song from your window as people in Italy are doing right now. Here’s an elderly woman in quarantine enjoying music performed by her young neighbors.
- Keep your small group going, virtually: Use Google Hangouts or Zoom to keep meeting with your small group on a regular basis. Now, more than ever, is the time to stay in touch and pray with the ones you do life with.
- Write a letter: Grab some stationary, and write letters to neighbors, loved ones, senior homes, hospitals, and police officers. A note of encouragement can ease loneliness and worry.
- Don’t complain: Refrain from complaining about the things we have to give up in this season while people in the world suffer. This is our moment to be the voice of faith, hope, and love – especially on social media.
- Speak faith: In the face of panic, Christians have the unique opportunity to speak peace. Email a verse, or call a neighbor to ask if you can pray for them. God’s Word will not return void.
- Enjoy your home, and stay there as much as possible: Christians have a moral responsibility to protect those around us, and in this case, that means staying home as much as we can so we don’t put others at risk.
- And pray! Pray alone, with your family, and in online corporate group prayers. Pray especially for janitors, doctors, nurses, chaplains, first responders, drivers, laborers, moms, and teachers. Here’s a great story about loving those around you and ways to be praying for them.
Whether serving or being served, we hope you will remember in the coming days that when we choose to be for our neighbors and those at the margins, God changes us all in beautiful ways. May we be known by our love in these difficult days.