It’s the middle of March—time for spring break, March Madness, and optimism that winter is ending. A season for renewal is on its way. And yet this middle-of-March feels different than any I can remember. As the past week has worn on, we have moved from excitement over spring break to mitigating disappointment over our last-minute changes in plans and the prospect of potentially endless weeks together under one roof without a real agenda (and our family doesn’t “free form” as well as I would like). No weekend soccer. No play practice. No music lessons. Nothing.
As a parent, that is enough to induce a state of panic even in certain times. But coupled with the uncertainty of the coronavirus and concerns over loved ones, elderly and otherwise, in addition to the general human population, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. But as with all times when we are facing uncertainty, we have two choices:
1) to let the uncertainty, and fear that comes along with it, take hold and turn us into a more agitated and frustrated version of ourselves, or
2) to look at the gift the disruption brings and find the silver lining.
As a mother of four, no schedule is a rare phenomenon. Until this week, I would have probably said it was an impossible phenomenon. But here we are, looking at the prospect of getting to decide (again) what we want our priorities to be in the next few weeks—whether we want to or not. And knowing the sheer volume of human suffering this global shutdown has and will induce, turning our minds and hearts toward helping to ameliorate whatever mental, physical, and emotional suffering others may be feeling feels like a good use of now more seemingly abundant time.
At PGK, we are all about trying to create a sense of urgency around teaching our children about service and kindness. In fact, we believe it is one of the most important things we can do as parents. So for all those parents who may believe the same but can’t find the hours in the day to make it happen as much as they might like, perhaps that is your silver lining too.
We have gathered a whole bunch of ways to respect the need for social distancing while still “touching” the lives of people in need, particularly those who may have extra needs in the weeks ahead. We have included projects and ideas that can be done anywhere, as this is situation is affecting us all. The novel coronavirus does not know any geographic boundaries.
We hope you find these thirteen ideas helpful, and we hope you will share this blog post and send us your own ideas of how you are helping to #CreateTheChange with your family by tagging us on social media @ProjectGivingKids on Facebook and Instagram in the weeks ahead. Let’s build community around caring so none of us feel quite so isolated in these days of increased isolation.
Everywhere Ideas from our PGK Partners:
- Lift the spirits of hospital patients and their families by creating a Joke Book
- Take care of the pups not seeing quite as many visitors at a shelter near you by baking a round of Dog Biscuits (skip the sale this time around) or making Craft Braided Dog Toys for a local shelter or SPCA. Be sure to call them ahead of time to let them know your plans and see what else they might need.
- While we are all looking for a bit of hope, write Cards for Hope Kits to accompany toiletry kits for vulnerable groups
- If crafting is your thing, consider Sewing Gift Bags to accompany shoes for homeless youth or if a no-sew option is preferable, make No Sew Baby Blankets for babies born into poverty
- For those preferring to keep the crafting a little simpler, Make Book Marks for emerging readers and send to one of our great Reading Partner chapters (or one near you)
- Support our troops by creating Care Packages for Deployed Military who are isolated from their families often for months on end (which makes a few weeks of isolation seem not too bad, right?!)
- Seniors served by Meals on Wheels are often alone for much of the year. Make their day by Making Birthday or Holiday Cards to accompany the meals that keep them nourished. One of our partners would gladly accept your works of art or deliver to a local MOW chapter near year.
Other Everywhere Ideas:
- Using one of the many grocery delivery services available today, deliver food and/or other necessary supplies to an elderly grandparent/family member, neighbor or friend (we did this yesterday and she loved it!)
- Ask neighbors to drop off food in a box by your front door that you can then take it to the local food bank which will be overrun with additional needs and fewer volunteers, as hungry kids out of school now for many weeks will be cut off from their daily food source at school
- For kids with musical or other talents, hold a live video concert for those you know who are stuck at home and lonely, with limited human interaction… use FaceTime, Zoom, Facebook video, Skype, Hangouts, or your favorite live video service.
- Decorate Kindness or Happiness Rocks and leave an inspiring message in a garden, park or other place where a neighbor might be trying to escape the confines of home for a few moments of restoration
- Consider grabbing grocery or restaurant gift cards for medical workers who face long hours and missed days off and help provide for their families as they help provide for all of ours… buying gift certificates also helps support local restaurants who are being hit hard economically right now.
- Check in with your other favorite local nonprofit(s) and ask where they see the gaps – and help fill them as best you can
Every big challenge offers the opportunity to bring out the best in humanity. Let us show that to our children as the days ahead unfold.