The coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected hundreds of thousands throughout the world. It is now making its way through the United States, with over 200,000 people already infected, decimating many lives in its path. Hospitalizations, school closings, job reductions and layoffs, health equipment and blood shortages — there is no telling when and where it will end. The news can be overwhelming and make us all feel helpless.
However we, as a nation, are not ones to sit around feeling helpless. When crises and emergencies arise, including pandemics, we respond by doing what we do best, helping each other. The Plan Collection and its associates, along with many other companies, are doing what they can to assist those in need.
What Is The Plan Collection Doing & How Can I Help?
As we are located near New York City, after the announcement of the first case of COVID-19 in our region on March 1, we followed guidelines to sanitize commonly touched items and wash our hands frequently while also not touching our faces. You don’t need hand sanitizer — although it’s certainly convenient — soap and warm water will do just fine.
By March 17, we had implemented 100% work-from-home and “social distancing.” We urge others to consider doing the same. All things considered, this is not a great sacrifice. By doing so, you will help to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your community. The elderly are most at risk from the coronavirus; however, younger people with underlying conditions (or even those who smoke or vape) are also at higher risk. Unfortunately, we have seen in our community the consequences of not taking social distancing seriously. Fortunately, everyone at The Plan Collection and their families remain healthy. With some pretty simple precautions, you can too!
Protecting Our Health Workers and First Responders
Our health workers and first responders are on the front lines of this pandemic. Many of them are putting themselves at considerable risk to help those suffering in our community.
Given the unprecedented growth rate of this virus, our health workers and first responders are running low on critically needed supplies. Items as straightforward as masks and goggles are essential to protect health workers from the virus and at risk of running out in some areas.
If you or someone you know has masks, you could donate them to your local hospital. All types of professions use masks on the job: dentists, veterinarians, those in the construction fields, and tradesmen. Many of these jobs are considered non-essential at this time and may be able to donate supplies.
You could also consider donating to a nonprofit that is coordinating efforts to get the essential supplies to those communities in need.
DirectRelief — Coronavirus Pandemic. DirectRelief is coordinating with public health authorities, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential medical items to health workers responding to coronavirus. DirectRelief has four stars from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest evaluator of charities. Learn more about DirectRelief and donate here.
Supporting Our Elderly
COVID-19 has a particularly high morbidity rate among the elderly. As a result, many of our older citizens have been in self-isolation or sheltering-in-place for two weeks or more already. Psychologically, this can be emotionally challenging for any of us. Additionally, even in good times, 85% of low income, food-insecure seniors are not receiving the meals they need according to Meals on Wheels. With the current pandemic, these seniors are truly suffering.
Consider placing a phone call to check in on any seniors in your neighborhood. At the very least, they will be happy to hear another person’s voice. Cook dinner and drop it off at their house’s front door — practice social distancing when dropping off. A safer way is to donate to your local food bank. One organization we especially like at The Plan Collection that helps offer meals to seniors in need is below.
Meals on Wheels America. Meals on Wheels works with over 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. Meals on Wheels has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.
Providing Hope to Our Children
With the closing of so many public schools across the nation, children are in many ways the forgotten victims of this crisis. Fortunately, children do not seem to be getting seriously ill from COVID-19. Unfortunately, the social networks and safety nets that schools provided to our children just thirty days ago are gone for so many.
In the U.S., 22 million schoolchildren get free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. This is often the most nutritious meal of their day. Cafeteria workers in school districts across the country have stepped up to fill the gap in many communities. They are working with school officials to ensure that meals are prepared and delivered to those children in need.
In other communities, the need is just too great or the pandemic too severe. Organizations dedicated to helping children that rely on school meal programs are stepping up during this crisis in so many ways.
Kids’ Food Basket. Kids’ Food Basket’s mission has always been to nourish children and communities. To that end, they are committed to continuing to pack and distribute nourishing food in a safe, healthy, and responsible way. Kids’ Food Basket has four stars from Charity Navigator. To learn more about Kids’ Food Basket and donate, click here.
A Pint of Blood Can Save Up to Three Lives
There are so many ways to help that we couldn’t possibly list them all here but there is one more critical need we’d like to mention: blood donation. Every three seconds, someone needs a pint of blood in the United States. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many blood drives have been canceled. The Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage and is desperately looking for donors. They have implemented additional donation safety protocols such as enhanced disinfecting of equipment and temperature checks before donors enter the donation center to help keep you safe while donating. Additional information and safety measures can be found below.
If you are still not sure what you can do to help, contact your municipality, hospital, or senior center to find out ways to contribute locally.
Moving Forward — Together
Let’s get through this together! We at The Plan Collection would like to think that Mr. Rogers’ mom was right, that in times of disaster, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Have any suggestions or organizations that are helping others in this pandemic? Please share them in the comments section below.
Photo credits in the lead image (clockwise from top left): Clay Banks on Unsplash; Clay Banks on Unsplash; Martin Sanchez on Unsplash; Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash. Photo credit for "Spread Hope Not Fear" image: Dan Edge on Unsplash.