Ways you can help ease suffering

The coronavirus outbreak may have you feeling scared, frustrated and powerless. In stressful times, there’s a tendency to panic and, say, buy up all the pasta and bottled water. But we’re all in this together, and it’s far better for all involved if we choose to help our fellow humans rather than rip the last roll of toilet paper from their hands. There are many ways to do so. Here are a few ideas:

Continue to pay your house cleaner, dog walker, personal trainer and the rest of the people whose services make your life a little easier, even if you don’t use them for a few weeks. Why? Because many of these folks are self-employed, and they lack the support systems that others of us may have. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid. But they still have to pay the bills.

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Check on your elderly neighbors. All that isolation can be lonely, and it can leave people without enough food or supplies. If you’re healthy and able, consider doing grocery shopping or running errands for your elderly neighbors or friends. You don’t even have to — and perhaps shouldn’t — come into direct contact with them; you can drop off their groceries on the doorstep or chat by phone. The point is to let people know you’re available to help.

Order takeout from your local restaurant. Operating a restaurant is already a tough business; the profit margins can be slim and the competition fierce. Calls by states for restaurants to suspend dine-in service could be the death knell for some mom-and-pop establishments. But it doesn’t have to be. Restaurants are still allowed to offer takeout, curbside pickup and delivery service. And, really, wouldn’t it be better to order Thai food than brave the grocery store lines? Some restaurants sell gift cards that you could buy now to give them cash immediately, then enjoy a dine-in meal when the emergency has passed.

Donate blood. If you’re healthy and an eligible donor, health care providers could use your blood right now. For example, in Southern California the Red Cross is facing a shortage after more than 160 blood drives were canceled as a result of school, church and workplace closures. Blood donation centers have enacted protocols to reduce the risk of exposure or spreading the coronavirus.

Contribute money, food or supplies to your local food bank or volunteer for food deliveries. This is especially important now as food banks and delivery services may be a lifeline for the elderly and infirm.

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Of course, the nicest thing you can do is to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Stay home, except for essential trips and goodwill measures. And when you do go out, practice social distancing and give an extra thanks to grocery workers, mail carriers and delivery drivers, doctors and nurses, first responders and all the other men and women helping to get us through the pandemic.

— Los Angeles Times

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