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While we take precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the spread of COVID-19, there are also easy steps we can take to help support our local community. Small, independent businesses and their employees are especially affected right now. We should also be aware of our neighbors and fellow community members who may be struggling, financially or otherwise. Here are a few tips for ways we can all help our communities.

Buy Gift Cards

Consider buying gift cards at your favorite small businesses, like the diner around the corner from you or your favorite nail salon. The money will go directly to the business now, when they need it most, to help pay their bills and potential employee sick leave, and you’re guaranteed to use the gift cards in the future. You’ll be helping out your local businesses while giving yourself something to look forward to when you’re out and about again.

Donate Ticket Costs

Show after show is being cancelled due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus and Gov. Baker’s recent ban on all gatherings of more than 250 people. The arts are among the hardest hit industries during an outbreak like this, and need our support now more than ever in order for us to have cultural lives to go back to after this epidemic. If you recently received a refund for an upcoming show, consider donating that money back to the theatre—it’s money that would have been spent anyways, and the future existence of many arts organizations may depend on donations like those. 

Donate To Local Non-Profits

Consider donating money to various non-profits that may be providing life-saving relief to individuals and families in the coming weeks and months, like your local food bank or Meals on Wheels, providing food to seniors, making sure they’re not left hungry or alone especially at a time like this when they may be self-quarantining. Find more information about donating to food banks here.

Practice Social Distancing

One of the most obvious public services we can do right now: if you feel sick, stay home. While you may have COVID-19, or the flu, or a cold, or just allergies, if you experience symptoms, call your doctor instead of rushing to the nearest clinic or urgent care where you risk infecting others. Unless you experience severe symptoms, the best thing you can do is stay home and take care of yourself so you can get better quickly without transmitting to others.

Donate Blood

American Red Cross is anticipating a shortage in blood supply in the coming weeks and months, which poses a huge risk to the sick community. “Blood donors are needed now more than ever, said Kate Fry, chief executive officer of America’s Blood Centers. “The blood supply cannot be taken for granted and the coronavirus only heightens the need for a ready blood supply.” Red Cross is urging organizations not to cancel blood drives, and urging healthy individuals to make appoints as soon as possible to donate blood, as the coronavirus poses no additional risk to blood donors.

Shop Online

Just because you may be staying at home doesn’t mean you need to miss out on buying those shoes you’ve been eyeing, or your favorite locally made snack. Many businesses sell their products online. Check your favorite store’s websites to see if you can purchase products without leaving your home.

Order Takeout

So you might not be going out to sit-down restaurants anymore (although no evidence so far reports that dining out should be a total no-go—see here, here, and here). But most of your favorite restaurants likely offer a takeout option so that you can reduce your proximity to large crowds. Call up your local restaurants to figure out their takeout and pickup options. Just wash your hands when you come back from picking up your food, and don’t share a plate of food with anyone else.