Across the nation families are wondering how to connect with others and move with purpose during these isolated days. The urge to make a difference is powerful. Especially as we watch the impacts of this global crisis fall heavier on some than others.
Now more than ever we know that action feels better than anxiety.
Scroll down for a list of ways your family can share kindness, volunteer, donate and learn together, even as you stay home together to slow the spread of the pandemic.
Lift spirits, warm hearts, and teach compassion.
- Check on neighbors with apps like Next Door. We're hearing wonderful stories of neighbors offering to share their abundance with others who are struggling in their own community.
- Start a neighborhood scavenger hunt by putting hearts on your front door, teddy bears in your windows, or decorative Easter egg pictures in public spaces. When other families are out for a (socially distanced) walk, they can watch for these surprises.
- Chalk your walk, leaving uplifting sidewalk chalk messages like "We're All In This Together."
- Thank delivery providers with a gift of hand sanitizer, an encouraging note like this one or just an extra tip.
- Mail friendship bracelets to cheer up friends and family members.
- Create awards to celebrate the everyday heroes in your community, from grocery store clerks to medical staff to your mail carrier.
- Share your art through the mail or take pictures and share digitally. Write pandemic-themed haiku or other poetry, draw, paint, color, fold origami or explore other creative passions. Then share your creations, along with an uplifting note, with folks in need of support.
- Send art to Color-a-Smile and they'll send it on to seniors, soldiers overseas and anyone in need of a smile.
- Set up a Magic Mail Station, inviting kids to create cards for those who need it most. Share your creations with seniors in isolated nursing homes, essential employees on the front lines of fighting this virus or anyone you know in need of extra support.
- Reach out to the elderly with Letters of Love. The mission of Letters of Love is to bring the joy of thoughtful letters and cards into the lives of the elderly in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices and senior centers around the world.
- Start a Grandparent Journal, mailing a notebook back and forth to grandparents, exploring questions and sharing encouragement.
- Decorate lunchbags to brighten up Meals on Wheels deliveries.
- Fill "Buckets" at home with these free resources (coloring pages, puzzles, book videos, lessons) from our good friend Carol McCloud, author of Have you Filled a Bucket Today? and many other awesome kindness books for kids.
Meet tangible community needs.
- Set up a Little Free Pantry, sharing extra groceries with neighbors and workers in your area. One big-hearted family we work with has been sharing staples in their driveway. Some neighbors are pitching in too! And at the end of every day, the table is nearly empty, as folks took what they needed.
- Support citizen science with three timely crowd-sourced science projects brought to you by Science Friday and SciStarter. Your family can help scientists track the spread of COVID, monitor changes in weather and identify drinking water quality all from your home. The following projects are particularly interesting right now:
- Covid Near You: Take 5 minutes each week to check in with researchers at Harvard and Boston Children's Hospital monitoring the spread of the virus.
- Participate in Citizen Science Month in April: SciStarter.com is celebrating all things citizen science with daily challenges. Pick your families favorite and get started today!
- Become an iNaturalist: Download the iNaturalist app from National Geographic and California Academy of Sciences. Join a project—which they define as a collection of observations with a common purpose. And begin your citizen science observations about the natural world!
- Sign Up for Nature's Notebook: This National Phenology Network project invites you to help scientists take the pulse of our planet by observing and then sharing seasonal changes in plants and animals. You may also want to explore their nature lessons to become a family of certified Nature's Notebook Observers.
- Spring clean yards for homebound neighbors. Some spring chores still beg to be completed. Offer help for older folks in your neighborhood.
- Clean up your neighborhood on your next walk outside. Grab plastic bags and garden gloves and clear up the winter refuse that may have accumulated.
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt with our free printable. We've gathered our favorite clues for a scavenger hunt to liven up your next walk in the woods. When children learn to appreciate and enjoy nature, they are more likely to grow into adults who value and protect our environment.
- Foster pets! It's puppy and kitten season, and though many shelters are closed to the public, many are still looking for foster families.
Share your abundance and teach the importance of charitable giving.
- Spring clean in anticipation of being able to donate gently used clothes, toys, and books to a shelter at some future date.
- Create a giving jar to help your child participate in your family's charitable giving. Organizations you may want to support include Family-to-Family, No Kid Hungry, UNICEF, or your local food bank.
- Start a garden in anticipation of donating some of the produce to your local food pantry.
- Host a food drive social-distance-style. Set up a drop off station in your driveway or other public space. Inform friends and neighbors of your event. Be sure to remind folks to keep their distance as they bring over their donations. Then drop off your collection at the food shelf and thank everyone for participating!
- Create activity kits to donate to food pantries and shelters engaging kids with extra time off.
- Make room for the hungry with a calendar-based fundraiser. Each day (for 30 days) count something different in your home with this simple printable. Place that many coins in a bowl or jar. At the end of the month, donate this money to a hunger relief organization.
Raise your voice for peace, justice, and social action.
- Speak up for the vulnerable. Reach out to your elected official and let them know you expect them to support people who are experiencing homelessness or food insecurity at this time. These printable advocacy templates help you express support for environmental justice, helping the hungry, and more.
- Sign petitions to correct injustices and support people struggling through the crisis.
Learn + discuss
Start big-hearted conversations and explore big ideas.
- Keep a journal by recording your experience during this historic moment. You may also want to write a reflection question in your journal each day and invite each family member to record a response.
- Play Free Rice, an online quiz game from the World Food Program. Players match words with their meanings to earn donations of rice for those in need, now featuring a cornoavirus category.
A version of this post was originally published on Doing Good Together; it has been reposted with permission.
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