How to Help while you #StayAtHome 

GPER SutterCreek OriginalSize 2015 10

Practically overnight, every person in California woke up to a new reality due to COVID-19. As our communities continue to #StayAtHome to slow the spread of the pandemic, many of us are eager to help in any way we can. Now more than ever we need to come together (in spirit, of course, to maintain physical distance) and take care of one another. But, how do we help our community without potentially putting others at risk?

Though small in population, the Sierra Nevada is big in heart and acts of kindness. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen these acts saturate my newsfeed. Although this pandemic can make many of us feel powerless, there are still many ways that we can all contribute to the greater good to ensure the resilience and safety of our communities. 

One of the biggest worries is the potential economic impacts of COVID-19. One way to soften some of the impacts of mandated closures of business and contribute to the economy is to keep spending money if you have the means to do so. Small businesses across the Sierra Nevada have been forced to close their doors or reduce operations. One way that many restaurants and businesses have asked the community to help is through purchasing gift cards to be used for future use. Buying gift cards is essentially like a no-interest loan for the business and could be what keeps them afloat during this time. Others have changed up their business models to soften the impact. The Fork & Horn, a restaurant in Sierraville, California, has started to make “Take and Bake” meals for purchase since customers can’t enjoy the restaurant’s fun and inviting ambiance right now. Ordering take and bake meals or other takeout items is a small way to ensure that your favorite small businesses can make it through this pandemic. 

Want to help the people on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response? Buy them a cup of coffee. Coffeebar in Truckee and Reno are offering medical workers free beverages and pastries. To make a donation, purchase a gift card online and write FRONTLINES in the notes to support.

Donating to nonprofits is another way to contribute to the greater good while staying at home. One of my favorite nonprofits (besides SBC, of course!), Sierra Community House, is accepting monetary and food donations to continue to provide food and resources to some of the region’s most vulnerable communities. They have already raised over $195,000 towards their $500,000 goal. Many of our favorite nonprofits are going to need us more than ever. If you are able to give, nonprofits are a great place to start, especially those that are helping the community in crisis. Here at Sierra Business Council, we will be sharing how interested donors can contribute to our own fundraising campaign soon. In the meantime, you can always contribute to our mission here

Since most of us are spending a lot more time at home, this is a great time to help your local animal shelter by welcoming a new furry friend into your home. Shelters across the Sierra Nevada are in need of foster homes or permanent homes for these adorable dogs and cats. Most shelters are still able to process adoptions and I think that giving a dog or cat a forever home certainly contributes to the greater good. If now isn’t a good time or your home already has furry friends, the Truckee-Tahoe Humane Society promotes this awesome app, WoofTrax. This app makes a donation to your favorite animal nonprofit based on the distance you walk. You can help your local animal friends just by taking a few laps around the block each day.

For those who are more creatively inclined and know their way around a sewing machine, this is your time to shine. Recently, there have been talks of requiring that all citizens wear masks when leaving the home for essential trips to the grocery store or other errands. If this is instituted, homemade masks will have to fill that need. All it takes is some cotton fabric, elastic, and sewed edges and voila, a mask. Check with your local community groups to see if other people are in need of masks and if you can make some extras! (And if you are in need of a mask but don’t have sewing chops, check out this tutorial on a simple, yet effective homemade mask.)

Lastly, I read online that some nurse’s ears are being rubbed raw from wearing a mask during their entire shift. Another way to help people on the frontlines is by sewing large buttons onto machine-washable/cotton headbands near the ears so that the mask can go over the buttons, instead of their ears, to prevent rubbing. The hospital workers in your area will be very grateful for the donation. Check with the hospital to find out specific guidelines for donating and acceptable materials. 

Remember, the desire to help others during COVID-19 is a feeling that many people share. The single most important thing that we can all do is to stay home to slow the spread of the virus.