The rise in coronavirus cases across Canada and around the world continues to change and reshape society. Unemployment is rising, hospitals are overwhelmed and quarantining is the new normal. Everyone has been impacted in some way; either physically, financially or mentally.
And while we’re doing our part by quarantining and staying indoors, those of us who are fortunate to do so, it can all be overwhelming and leave you feeling powerless. If you’re looking for ways to provide aid and support, we’ve compiled a list of some of the ways you can help your community and the most vulnerable in society.
While the initial onslaught of coronavirus saw a drastic drop in blood donations and cancelled appointments in March, we’re happy to share that Canadian Blood Services has since seen a rise in regular and first-time donations. Worries about the virus had caused many people to cancel appointments but the blood donation agency has assured Canadians that they’re taking every precaution to protect donors.
Blood donations are as vital as they have ever been and desperately needed for the surgeries, cancer treatments and accidents doctors continue to treat. If you are able and eligible to donate, you can book your appointment online at the Canadian Blood Services website (they are not accepting walk-ins).
Shop a Little, Give a Little
As people continue to deal with the effects of coronavirus, many businesses have taken the charge to help their communities. Restaurants are providing free meals to frontline workers, distilleries have started making hand sanitizers and many companies are now offering free home deliveries.
While also making our lives easier, businesses have been trying to raise money for organizations dealing with the impact of coronavirus around the world. One of these businesses is Buy Us Wear Us (BUWU); a company that partners with brands (Like the Toronto Blue Jays and Baby Shark) to create custom products and clothing lines. Like everyone else, BUWU found themselves asking what they could do to help and how they could use their platform to help those dealing with the crisis. They found their answer with their new collection titled “Better Together,” featuring a line of t-shirts with slogans like “Socially Distant AF” and “2020 2021 Will Be Our Year.” They also partnered with Canadian Baby brand Snugabye to create a collection for little ones, with slogans like “No Snuggling I’m Social Distancing” and “Social Distancing is Hard for a Hugger.” Net proceeds from the sale of this collection will be donated to UNICEF’s COVID-19 relief efforts and you can shop the collection here.
Help Frontline Workers
Hospitals and frontline workers across the country and the world are overwhelmed and struggling to keep up with the growing need of personal protective equipment. Some hospitals in Canada are already rationing masks! It’s a sad and terrifying reality for those who are putting their lives on the line to save others.
If you have access to masks and gloves, you can donate unused materials to your local hospitals. They are also in desperate need of funds to buy all the necessary equipment for frontline workers. Head to Canada Helps for a detailed list of hospital and healthcare charities you can support across the country.
Seniors are particularly vulnerable during this pandemic, both from the disease and the isolation that comes with it. While you should continue to keep your physical distance, make sure you maintain close emotional connections. Virtually check in with seniors in your family and neighbourhood and offer to buy their groceries. You can donate to HelpAge Canada or join initiatives like Caremongering, a Toronto organization of volunteers offering to deliver living essentials to the most vulnerable in society, or Letters Against Loneliness, a Halifax organization collecting and distributing letters to senior centres. If you’re interested in writing a letter, you send your submission to LettersAgainstLoneliness.Canfirstname.lastname@example.org or start your own local initiative.
Donate to Food Banks
With unemployment rising by the day, more and more people are turning to food banks and the organizations are feeling the pressure. Unfortunately, food banks have seen a decrease in donations and volunteers during a time of growing need. Children are also facing increased food insecurity amidst the pandemic. Food banks are urging Canadians to donate what they can; supplies, time or money. For more on how you can help kids and those in desperate need for food, visit the following charities: Food Banks Canada, Second Harvest, Canadian Feed the Children and Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.
Support Local Businesses
Businesses have been one of the major financial casualties of this pandemic. With the closing of many restaurants and stores, hoards of retailers, servers and restaurant staff have lost their jobs. Some small businesses and local restaurants have sadly shut their doors for good.
If you’re willing and able to help, you can order takeout from your favourite local restaurants, buy gift cards and memberships to local businesses or volunteer your expertise – like website design, social media or accounting – to small business owners.
Support the Most Vulnerable in Society
Experts are sounding the alarm for a potential spike in domestic violence cases as a result of quarantine measures. Women’s shelters and sexual assault centres are continuing to provide supplies and assistance to women in need and are also suffering from increased demand during this time. Visit Women’s Shelters Canada or your local shelter for more on how you can help these organizations.
Indigenous communities are anticipating a drastic increase in need of supplies and funds as the virus spreads out from city centres. Reach out to organizations like Water First and True North Aid for how you can best help these communities.
Homeless shelters across the country are struggling with overcapacity and dwindling supplies and funds. Visit your local shelter’s website or give them a call to see what supplies they are in dire need of and how you can donate your time or money.
Help the Arts and Artists
Most of us are turning to shows, books and the arts to occupy our time during quarantine. Unfortunately, many of these artists have lost their source of income as institutions have shuttered and public events have been cancelled. While you can help by making a donation to organizations like the National Arts Centre, you can also buy tickets to future performances, commission art pieces from local artists or buy books by local authors.
Volunteer and Spread Joy
Many charities, food banks and crisis helplines are in dire need of volunteers. If you can, and feel comfortable doing so, contact organizations in your area to see if you can volunteer your time.
During this scary and stressful time, one of the best things you can do is spread joy and do random acts of kindness:
- Volunteer to buy food for neighbours
- Put out baskets with items like hand sanitizers, water and food for delivery people
- Throw a virtual dance party
- Foster a shelter animal
- Start a postcard or letter writing campaign for those in isolation
- Start a virtual art or book club
- Share a feel-good story with your friends and family (Tank’s Good News is a great place for your daily dose of sunshine).
For a detailed list of the best charities in Canada, checkout Money Sense’s breakdown of the top 100 charities of 2019.