In these unprecedented and uncertain times, many of us are looking for ways to help those affected by the pandemic. We are all washing our hands and following social distancing guidelines, but many of us are looking to give back in bigger ways to help individuals and communities affected by COVID-19.

These tragedies can be difficult to process, but helping others may help you shake that feeling of powerlessness in times of crisis. Our staff here at Optimum is passionate about doing our part to help relieve the pains we are all suffering right now, so we’ve compiled this helpful guide of five ways to give back during this challenging time.

Donate to an Established Nonprofit

In these times of crisis, donating to charities that are supporting medical needs and vulnerable populations can have a huge impact. While most of us are hunkering down at home and watching the news, nonprofits across the nation are working overtime to implement programs that will support those who need it during the pandemic.

Oftentimes, resources necessary for the work these charities are doing are scarce and difficult to access. Donating your time or money to a nonprofit is a great way to do your part in giving back. We recommend doing your research to find an organization registered as a public 501(c)(3) with a history of success in their mission. If you’re not sure where to direct your donation, check out this list from the Washington Post or this one from The Cut.

Donate Blood

The American Red Cross is an American humanitarian organization providing emergency assistance, disaster preparedness education, and disaster relief during widespread crises. One of the Red Cross’s biggest functions is maintaining 40% of our nation’s blood supply. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and cancellation of blood drives, the Red Cross is facing a severe shortage of blood.

“One of the most important things people can do right now during this public health emergency is to give blood. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible,” says Gail McGovern, CEO of the American Red Cross. During the pandemic, the Red Cross and its volunteers have been working diligently to help individuals and communities recover, but they need our help.

Despite blood drives being canceled, many donor centers are still open and accepting appointments for donations. If you’re healthy enough to donate, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit the American Red Cross website to find a donor center near you.

Support Animal Shelters

Animal shelters and rescue groups across the nation are canceling events and reducing services in order to protect staff and do their part in social distancing. However, the animals under the care of these organizations still need to be taken care of during the pandemic, and without fundraising or adequate staffing, shelters and rescue groups are struggling.

If you have the resources, fostering or adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue group can help alleviate the strain on these organizations. You can also call local shelters to find out how you can donate or provide other assistance that may help save some of the animals that call those organizations home.

Support Local Restaurants

Local restaurants are taking a serious hit during the pandemic due to only being able to offer to-go or delivery services. Across the world, restaurants and bars have had to close their doors, causing serious losses and skyrocketing unemployment rates across the industry. During this crisis, it is critical that we all do our part to support local restaurants so that we can continue to visit our favorites spots when the quarantine is lifted.

Help keep your community’s restaurants open by ordering takeout or delivery. Many restaurants are also asking patrons to purchase gift cards. “Gift cards are like interest-free loans,” explains San Antonio restaurant owner Steve McHugh. The idea is that cash infusions from gift card purchases can help buoy restaurants during a time when people can’t actually eat at the restaurant. Websites are emerging that will match your gift card purchase in an effort to support local eateries, such as Save Our Faves in San Francisco or Portland SOS.

Spread Positivity

During these uncertain and difficult times, it is important to lean on and support your community. There are plenty of ways to engage with those in your support system while still social distancing, and the effort to brighten someone’s day can make all the difference. If you know a first responder, show them your gratitude by making a handmade card or preparing a meal to be left on their doorstep. If you have elderly neighbors, check on them regularly and offer to pick up any supplies they may need. If you know someone with kids at home, consider offering to babysit or help with errands. There are many ways to spread joy in your community and it’s important not to forget that in a time when we all need a little positivity.

Don’t Forget to Stay Hydrated with Optimum!

While you are busy finding ways to give back during this COVID-19 crisis, don’t forget the importance of staying hydrated! To take care of others you have to first take care of yourself. With Optimum’s line of bottleless water coolers you can stay hydrated. Check out our website to learn more about our products! We’re sure we have something that will fit your needs.