This week a Stay-at-Home order was issued effective Friday, March 27 at 5 pm through Thursday, April 16 for residents in Greensboro, High Point, and Guilford County. Soon after this order was made public, Governor Roy Cooper announced a statewide Stay-at-Home order effective Monday, March 30 at 5 PM through April 29.
For many of us, this “new normal” of spending the majority of our time at home has come as a shock. Businesses have ground to a halt, events have been canceled, and the plans we’d looked forward to for months have slowly begun to unravel.
Many of us are trying to figure out what it looks like to work from home, build meals from whatever’s in the pantry, and create alternatives to toilet paper. (Feel free to pass along whatever you come up with, because the stock is getting pretty low at our house.)
Our feeds and inboxes are filled with a thousand and one suggestions for how to homeschool our kids, schedule our days, and cook an entire meal using only flour, chicken stock, and a can of corn.
The constant influx of information, suggestions, and guidelines is overwhelming, and the obsession with handling this pandemic in the “right” way can be all-consuming. It’s easy in a crisis to turn inward and focus only on how we are impacted as individuals. But studies have shown that being intentional about helping and serving others is beneficial not only for those we serve, but also for ourselves—mentally, emotionally, and even physically.
Nothing surfaces the motivations of our hearts like a crisis, and it’s only taken a matter of weeks for our world to express its true feelings about the weak and vulnerable. But in that same span of time, we’ve witnessed beautiful expressions of selfless love and generosity—a welcome reminder that all people, no matter their age or stage, are worth caring for.
So here I’ve compiled a short list of practical ways to serve others during this time of uncertainty. Take a look and consider which options might work best for you! We’d also love to hear from you about the ways you are creatively serving others. Please comment and share your ideas!
1. Support Local Businesses
Many businesses in our city have been forced to close their doors or drastically alter their regular business model. Make a short list of the places you frequent and love, and be intentional about supporting them. Order takeout, purchase gift cards, or buy merchandise. Another simple way to help is by heading over to the Interactive Resource Center of Greensboro’s website. All donations will be split evenly among hourly employees of local businesses, and with a minimum donation you’ll receive a “Greensboro Local” shirt.
With schools closed, many students are at risk of not having enough to eat each day. It’s been beautiful to see our community step up to meet the needs of students and families. To help, you can donate food items or money to local organizations like Backpack Beginnings, A Simple Gesture, or Second Harvest Food Bank.
The United Way of Greater Greensboro has started a virus relief fund for families who are impacted by coronavirus. You can donate by clicking here.
3. Serve Your Neighbors
We’ve already heard accounts of people who are meeting their neighbors for the first time during this crisis. If you don’t know your neighbors, now would be a great time to make a connection–from six free away, of course. Ask them how they’re doing. Find out if there are any supplies they need that you could pick up for them. Offer to do yard work or drop off take out. Have your children make encouraging cards to drop in their mailboxes. Ask how you can pray for them.
4. Don’t Hoard Supplies
I get it—toilet paper is a necessity. But we’ve all seen the videos circulating of people getting in physical altercations over the stuff. (If you haven’t, you can see humanity struggling to remember its inherent dignity here.) The fact is, stockpiling ridiculous amounts of toilet paper and essentials keeps other individuals from having their most basic needs (and also doesn’t give anyone warm fuzzy feelings toward you). Let’s care for others and take only what we need. Not sure how much that is? Believe it or not, there’s a TP calculator to help you find out.
If you have a lot of extras, consider sharing them with neighbors, or even donating them to organizations that are dispersing items to those in need.
5. Stay in Touch
We are blessed to live in an age where “social distancing” doesn’t have to be absolute. Thanks to technology, we can talk screen to screen with the ones we love. Think about the people in your life who might be feeling a little extra lonely during this time. Call your grandparents, the brother who lives across the country, or the friend across town who’s home alone all day with her children. Plan phone calls, FaceTime sessions, or Zoom meetings where you can talk about something other than COVID-19.
6. Be With Your Family
Done, you might be thinking. But how often do we find ourselves in close proximity to a family member, but not really with them? I’m guilty of this—of being present with my children or husband, but my mind is focused on other things. Create boundaries for yourself so that you don’t get sucked into sifting through news all day. Put the phone down. Turn the TV off. Sit across from your spouse, children, siblings—whoever you’re holed up with—and play, laugh, be silly, and be present.
We all have opinions about this crisis–about what should or shouldn’t be done, how it is or isn’t being handled well, and so on. We have a great opportunity to set aside our criticisms and Facebook rants (you know who you are) and instead hit our knees in prayer. Here are a few ideas of how we can be praying specifically during this crisis, but of course this list isn’t exhaustive. Gather your family and dedicate time to pray together daily for our country and world.
- Pray for our president and his team as they seek to lead well and make wise decisions.
- Pray for state governors and other leaders on the local level.
- Pray for doctors and nurses who are serving on the frontlines every day. Pray for adequate supplies and resources to care for the sick.
- Pray for those who are sick, and for their family members as they navigate these uncertain days and weeks.
- Pray for the students who are out of school and at risk of falling behind, and also for those who face food insecurity.
- Pray for those who have lost their jobs and are struggling to provide for their families.
Love From a Distance
Years from now, I want to share with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren how our communities supported and looked out for one another during a scary, uncertain time. Let’s treat every person we encounter like the inherently valuable image bearers they are. Let’s put the needs of others before our own. And let’s use this period in history to love others, and love them well.
A distance of six feet or more is no match for real love anyway.