Help Your Community Without Leaving Your Home on December 1

 GivingTuesday is happening on December 1, 2020! This year might look a little bit different, but there are still many ways you can give back right from the comfort of your own couch! Get involved in your community to give back in this time of high need by giving your time, your ideas, and creativity from a safe social distance or by donating from the convenience of your home.

It’s the collective spirit of generosity that brings change to our communities when people give their voice, their time, their talent, or their money. Generosity has even been linked to higher rates of happiness. Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts and everyone has something to give.

Start by asking yourself what causes and issues matter most to you or what aspects of your local community you’d most like to help. If you care about...

Racial inequality: Educate protestors about their rights by getting informed yourself and sharing that information on social media. Share links and resources on your social media channels about anti-racism. Contact your local officials about police budgets and policy. Reevaluate the businesses and organizations you support. Provide PPE and other supplies to keep protestors safe and protected. Donate to local organizations or bail funds that are supporting protesters in your area. Use your purchasing power to support Black-owned businesses. Offer your services to help others who wish to protest--for example, if you are a lawyer you could work pro-bono, or as a nanny you could babysit while a parent protests.

Prioritizing mental health: Leave only kind comments on social media. Start every conversation you have on a positive note. Sign up for an orientation with your local suicide prevention network. Give someone the gift of your ear by just listening to them. Check in with yourself by finding stillness through meditation, connect with your breath and additionally, give yourself the mental space and opportunity to explore who you are and what you want out of a post-COVID-19 world and life.

The elderly: Arrange for a delivery of groceries for an elderly family member, friend or neighbor. Take time to help a senior get connected and educated on technology, socially distanced if possible. Send a card or letter to a lonely elder to let them know you’re thinking of them. Ask a nursing home how you can be of help, some may be in need of PPE. Work with a local Housing Authority to identify elderly residents in need of assistance.

Sustainability: Assess your home and make some eco-friendly changes, for example: educate yourself, your family and roommates on following the right protocols for recycling. Start composting. Switch from paper towels to reusable rags and to recycled toilet paper. Practice minimalism, make sure that everything you own and use is put to its maximum purpose. Examine your work from home habits: are you recycling or using more materials than you would in an office.

Food security: Support community programs in your area like co-ops, community gardens, farmers markets etc. Hold a food donation drive with a cash option for those struggling to provide for themselves during COVID-19. Create bagged lunches and give them to anyone who might be hungry or donate them to a shelter or protestors. Help people in your community apply for federal food assistance.

Animal welfare: Foster an animal in need of a temporary home-- you just might find your next best friend. Set up a donation drive to support animals in need, particularly those living in shelters or strays. Organize an online fundraiser for your local shelter. Install a native bird feeder and/or a solitary beehive.

Essential workers: Express gratitude by writing thank you messages to first responders. Send letters to troops overseas. Host a donations drive for essential workers and their families who might be struggling to balance the on-going demands of COVID-19 financially.

Helping the homeless: Donate or start a fundraiser for a shelter in your community. Identify a list of healthcare facilities and alternative care sites where clients with respiratory illness can seek housing and receive appropriate care. Donate COVID-19 prevention supplies such as soap, hand sanitizers, tissues, trash baskets, and disposable face masks to shelters as well as people you meet who are experiencing homelessness.

Immigrants and refugees: Speak out against xenophobia. Educate yourself on the on-going refugee crisis and share that knowledge with others. Join an online cultural or language exchange with refugees. Support refugee-owned businesses (or those that support refugees). Contact organizations in your area are helping immigrants during this time and see how you can further or start those efforts. Encourage organizations you work with, and others in your community, to use translation and interpretation services to widen accessibility.

Promote civil discourse: When someone makes an inappropriate or racist comment, or puts another group, race, or culture down—show civil courage and be willing to have the conversation to emphasize how hurtful these comments can be and how prejudice can permeate an entire community, organization, or school. When discussing heavy topics, begin with yourself: tell the truth and the whole truth, moderate your tone, give others the space to share their whole perspective. As a teacher, develop a self and community reflective classroom activity, create a classroom contract, provide opportunities for student reflection, and establish safe spaces for sensitive topics.

Support social tolerance: Become part of a social justice movement be it criminal justice reform, women's healthcare rights, worker’s rights there are movements around all these areas, and more. Find them. Support them. Join them. Participate in marches, rallies, calls to action in order to help to create political space for candidates committed to the issues you care about. Support organizations working to advance social justice and human rights in the United States and around the world, particularly ones whose mission might be challenged by policy. Help to create new political space in the months ahead, and prepare the ground for candidates committed to the rights of all in the next elections.

However you decide to give back on December 1 for GivingTuesday, don’t forget to take an #Unselfie from the couch and share your good deed on social media using #GivingTuesday. Not only will it feel good, you’ll inspire a wave of change.