• Sarah Hunter

10 Unique Ways You Can Help During the Pandemic

I think it's safe to say we are all feeling a little anxious in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but another prevelent feeling I've noticed is helplessness. "What can I do?!" In this time of unprecedented global crisis, we seek not only to be comforted but to give comfort. While I may not be able to single-handedly fix this (and believe me, I want to!) I've identified some ways I can feel more helpful and less helpless, and I'm sharing those here in case you feel the same way.

Some of these ideas can by carried out even if you are sick, or stuck at home, or both. Others apply only to those who are not sick and are taking all precautions to stay that way. In all cases, please be mindful that we are all potential carriers, even if we are not infected. Stay home as much as possible and wash your hands like you just ate jalepenos and you're about to put your contacts in.

baby quilt bright white background stripe beach colors, sea horse fabric

Shopping Small

Did you know that in the US, roughly 32 million small businesses employ about 47 percent of the private workforce?

When describing why small biz will be hit hardest, economist David Audretsch says “In general, they don't have reserves to make it for days or weeks or months..." Many locally owned or small businesses are living paycheck to paycheck, just like many Americans.

Don’t get me wrong, I still use WalMart and Amazon (see below), but they are going to come out of this in a lot better shape than your local, family-owned restaurant or a small online retailer.

Here are three simple ways to help small business on a local and national scale!

bright yellow food truck serving hamburgers

1. Treat Yo'self

Take the night off from cooking and grab dinner from your local, family owned restaurant, using the drive thru, carry out or delivery option, of course. In case you’re wondering, “There's little risk in contracting the virus from food or food packaging picked up at a takeout window or from a restaurant,” said Benjamin Chapman, professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University. You can read more about food safety and COVID-19 here.

2. Stock Up on Supplies (no, NOT toilet paper)

Now that we're pretty much all quarantined, we're going to need supplies delivered. Clothes, booze, and don't forget about gifts, because birthdays are not cancelled!

Supporting your favorite candle maker, quilter, painter, winery, etc. is a win-win. You get what you need and help a fellow human pay their bills!

Grey t-shirt, Alexa I Neeed Wine

These are a few of my favorite small businesses that will ship directly to your door!

Rose t-shirt Be A Kind Human It's Free

Pumpkin and Whiskey - If you are working from home, you're going to need a new uniform. And by uniform, I mean day pajamas.

Danielle (@pumpkinandwhiskey) has shirts that are so SOFT, on-trend and you can even wear your new day pajamas out in public (once that's a thing again)!

I would recommend ordering at least two because these are also awesome gifts! One of my personal favorites is in the photo above. "Alexa, I need wine."

photo collage of downtown walla walla, vineyard, people in tasting room, flowers

Lagana Cellars - Speaking of wine...we're all stuck inside with each other for the foreseeable future. Yikes. This award-winning winery in my hometown of Walla Walla, Washington is owned and operated by Jason and Todd (@laganacellars), two of the nicest, most chillaxed guys you'll ever meet! If you're in Walla Walla, they'll deliver wine to your door. If not, they're offering $10 shipping for three bottle orders and free shipping for six bottles or more. We're going to need at least six! (Insider tip: Try the Pinot Noir Rosé.)

Ful Candles - Laura, and her "branch manager" Toby, make me smile daily with their stories and posts on Instagram (@fulcandles). But Laura's real superpower is making eco-friendly soy candles that smell incredible!

If you like the blood orange scent of the infamous "Volcano" candle, you will love her version of it, called Joyful. I just burned thru my second one...it really does make me feel joyful!

Scout and Cellar - You don't have to hoard wine the way you're hoarding toilet paper (admit it) if you have a subscription.

Karen (@karynraewrites) of Scout and Cellar has you covered with clean-crafted wine from around the world, delivered to your door! And get this...You can become a consultant and earn an income slinging wine to your friends!

Netflix+Wine Subscription=Self Care

3. Get creative

Good news! Science says that our hobbies are the key to reducing anxiety! Sewing, knitting, gardening, drawing or journaling; these are all forms of creativity. Being creative activates and increases the level of dopamine, the feel good hormone, in our brain. The pleasure is in the process, not the result, so consider this your permission to start a new project! Let me enable you with these suggestions:

flatlay of tablet displaying digital magazine, mug of coffee sewing notions

Make Modern Magazine - Get instant inspiration! (@makemodernmagazine)

Bi-monthly digital issues feature small projects as well as full size quilt patterns designed by makers around the globe.

Fun fact: Make Modern is published by FOUR women in FOUR different parts of Australia! They were teleworking before it was even cool!

Prices are listed in Australian dollars, but at the time of writing, a 12 month subscription is less than $25 USD. Check exchange rates here.

red and pink geometric quilt in front of a desert mountain range

Quilt Cakes - Amanda (@quiltcakes) is a supremely talented pattern designer with a knack for playing with color and taking great pictures!

Her new pattern, Kaleidoscope Burst, is fat quarter friendly and so versatile! I'm currently testing the pattern and I love how many different ways it uses color to achieve a unique look.

Be sure you're following her to see more versions of this quilt and be the first to know when the pattern is released in April!

Attractive woman wearing a hat standing near mustard yellow quilt

Hoffmama Company - Alex is a quilter, pattern writer and stay at home mom. Her designs transform traditional quilt blocks into contemporary art! For a fun, fast finish, check out her latest quilt pattern, Weighted.

If you need gift ideas instead, check out the finished quilts available in her shop!

homemade is where the heart is mini quilt bernina tula pink sewing machine

Tied with a Ribbon - Not only is Jemima (@tiedwitharibbon) an incredibly kind human, she is an incredibly talented author, teacher, pattern/fabric designer and quilter!

Her latest pattern, the Homemade Mini Quilt, is being released next week and the timing is perfect. It's a wonderful project for quarantined quilters because it can be made from scraps. #stayhome

If you're searching for a fun activity to do with your kids, teach them to sew using her Hair Dayz pattern to make scrunchies, or any of her pincushion, pencil case, pillow patterns!

Stay Inside, Think Outside (the box)

Here are four more ways we can make an impact in our own commnunity. In some cases, you don't even have to spend a dime to help somebody that needs it!

elderly woman washing fresh vegetables

1. Help Thy Neighbor

If you are NOT sick and have not been exposed to a patient with COVID-19, offer to pick up groceries for your elderly neighbors. You could get the word out by putting a note in their mailbox with your phone number. Make arrangements with them to drop off the groceries in a way that minimizes their exposure to you, in case you came into contact with the virus unknowingly.

iphone displaying sharing options of instagram facebook twitter

2. Practice Social Sharing

Consider following local agencies such as the food bank, domestic violence shelter, and humane society on social media and spread the word when they need help. We might not be able to answer every call for help ourselves but spreading the word on social platforms can make a tremendous impact.

a package wrapped in brown paper by the front door

3. Make a Care Package

Have plenty of supplies? Make a care package for someone that might not, after you've washed your hands, of course. Maybe for someone that has lost their job, or for a college student far from home. Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, a deck of cards and board games are appreciated. Check Pinterest for more ideas!

workers in a warehouse preparing shipments

4. No Rush Shipping

Amazon is prioritizing shipments of medical and household supplies over other items. If you want to order something, but don’t need it in a hurry, opt for the “No Rush” shipping option during check out. They’ll give you a $1 credit towards digital purchases like video rentals and Kindle books (kid entertainment!), and they can prioritize orders for those who are urgently awaiting supplies.

Four Legged Love

As the world's biggest sucker for animals, this one really tugs at my heart. The sad truth is that declining economies result in an increase of animals being surrendered at the shelter. They need your help now more than ever. I'm sharing three ways we can rally around them.

dog resting his head on owner's leg in a hammock

1. Adopt (or foster) a Pet

As pet shelters fill up, the need for safe housing (permanent and foster care) will rise. Check with your local humane society or visit Petfinder.com to start your search for your new best friend. Before visiting the shelter, be sure to call to find out how they conduct the screening process. In some cases, this may be done over the phone to promote social distancing. Bonus: Pets reduce anxiety and stress!

close up of dry dog cat kibble food

2. Send Food and Supplies

You can use Amazon or Chewy.com to send pet food directly to the shelter.

You can also ask your local humane society if they have a specific list of urgent needs, like cat litter, beds or cleaning supplies.

puppy on a blanket in a pet shelter

3. Make a Kennel Mat

This is a great activity to do with the kids and gives them a chance to know how good "giving" feels! Kennel mats or pet blankets should be simple, safe and easy to wash. Bernina has a great tutorial here, and there are many more on the internet. Ask your local shelter if they have any requirements before you get started.

Give and Receive

If you've been following me for any length of time, then you know that I'm a big advocate for the power of kindess. It truly is the gift that gives back. Doing something kind feels better than doing nothing because it is better. Whether it's supporting small business, helping a neighbor, fostering a homeless animal or something completely different, the power is within us all.

We each have different giving capacities. Choose one of the ten ideas above that work for you today to enjoy a sense of instant gratification. Choose another the next time you're feeling helpless or overwhelmed. Feel free to share your own favorite ideas in the comments below! We're in this together and we're going to make it to the other side.

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