How to Make a Difference During the COVID-19 Crisis

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At a time when everything is dark, it helps to be a source of light.

At a time when everything is dark, it helps to be a source of light. 

COVID-19 has been battering the U.S. economy for well over a month now, and although the government has sent out stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits, there are still plenty of people who are struggling. 

If your income has been hurt by COVID-19, there's absolutely nothing wrong with hanging onto every dollar that's coming your way. But if your finances are sound despite the crisis, it pays to share the wealth in a meaningful manner. Here are a few things you can do to make a difference at a time when the simplest acts of goodwill can really go a long way. 

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1. Contribute to a worthwhile charity

Maybe you're still getting your regular paycheck, but thanks to many businesses being closed, you aren't spending much these days. Or perhaps you're sitting on a $1,200 stimulus payment that was just deposited directly into your bank account. If you're willing to part with some of that money, donating it to a worthwhile charity could be a rewarding thing to do right now. For example, you could go online and give some money to the CDC Foundation, which is working tirelessly to combat COVID-19. There are many other charities that are helping families around the world. Or you can keep it local and contribute to a local food bank, animal shelter, or other cause that is meaningful to you. 

2. Tip generously for grocery and food delivery

Right now, grocery and meal delivery isn't just a convenience; it's a safety measure. If you live in a densely populated city, the mere act of getting food for your family could expose you to unwanted germs. Outsourcing that task means protecting your health and that of the people who live with you. But remember that, in order to provide this service, other people are risking their health. So it pays to be generous toward the delivery workers who help keep you safe. That means offering a nice tip to the person who delivers your groceries to your front porch or brings takeout meals to your door. If you can't leave the tip on a credit card, put cash in an envelope and tape it to your door so your transaction can stay contact-free.

3. Help get supplies to healthcare and essential workers

Each day, countless people put themselves on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, whether by working in clinics, hospitals, or testing centers. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other workers who may not be in the medical field but are still essential -- think supermarket cashiers and pharmacy stockers. You can help these people in a number of ways. Examples include donating sanitizer and gloves (if you have any), ordering masks on their behalf, or sending them coffee or meals. You could do this independently or team up with friends to make more of an impact. 

Being generous during a crisis can be extremely fulfilling. So if you're in a position to help out, do so. And remember, you can be generous with your time even if money is very tight. Help an elderly neighbor get supplies, or volunteer to do a remote storytelling session with your friends' young kids so they can take a break and maybe get some remote work done. There are plenty of services you can offer that won't cost you a dime, so don't be afraid to get creative at a time when everyone is hurting in one way or another.

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