This year I committed to posting a sustainability challenge monthly, but I have spent the last week thinking on this and decided to go in a different direction for the month of April given the circumstances. I encourage you to continue to participate in my previous challenges. Keep avoiding plastic bottles, keep trying to clean up your cleaning product, keep avoiding single-use plastic bags, and continue eating less meat.
In addition to those challenges, I am starting up a new challenge for the rest of the month. A pay-it-forward challenge. One where you give back in some way every day of the month. That can mean anything from donating money, starting a meal train for hospital workers, making a card for a loved one or supporting a local business. Doing something kind and generous for someone other than yourself.
While the bigger picture items like donating money or blood are crucial during this time (when they’re possible) small acts of kindness can also go a long way.
Here’s an example: yesterday I created care packages for a few of my local friends. I put a bottle of wine, some chocolate, and a note in a bag and delivered it to their houses. It took me a total of an hour to assemble and deliver them and it felt so good to bring a smile to their faces, even if for only a night.
Note: I wore a mask and gloves to put them together and deliver them. I also asked my friends first if they felt comfortable with this.
In a time where it often feels like we have no control of the situation, doing something to help others is a way to make a difference, whether big or small in their lives and feel a bit of control in our own lives.
I’ve made a list of 15 ways to pay it forward to help get you started. I really hope you’ll join me in this challenge and help to make a difference during this difficult time in one way or another each and every day this month.
1. Donate money. Even if it’s $10 or $20 or even $5, every dollar counts. These are the organizations that we have donated to personally: Feeding America to help food banks around the country, Feed the Children to help feed hungry kids around the world, and Meals on Wheels to help deliver meals safely to the elderly. This week, we are using the Homeless Shelter Directory to find local homeless shelters. I’ve reached out to a few and have offered to donate food, money, or supplies based on what they need.
If you’re looking for another type of monetary donation, CNN put out a great comprehensive list of organizations that are helping people in need right now.
3. Donate medical supplies. Donate your PPE and Mask Match are a great place to start. And if you can sew, make homemade masks to donate as well. A friend of mine is making masks for a local fire department which has inspired me to learn how to sew. I’ve literally never done it (don’t ask me how this is possible) but now is the time!
4. Donate your time. Volunteer to be a crisis counselor for The Crisis Text Line and help others through their anxiety about the Coronavirus.
Send a Smile
6. Bear hunt. Create a fun activity for the kids in your neighborhood by putting up teddy bears in your windows for when they walk by. I texted all of the neighbors that I knew and had them text the people they knew and now when we do our morning walks, we go on a bear hunt! I’ve also seen pictures of other neighborhoods that put up hearts or signs of encouragement.
7. Buy dinner for a friend. Among my friends, we each have our up days and down days. When someone is having a down day, order dinner for her/her family. Tell her what time it’s coming and tell her not to worry about a thing. It’s such a thoughtful gesture and takes one thing off of her mental load that day.
8. Write letters. Call/email a local senior center or nursing home and ask where you can send letters and pictures to their residents. Then write out a handwritten note in addition to art (if you have a kiddo) to brighten someone’s day.
9. Make a video. Does someone you know have a birthday, anniversary, or big milestone coming up? Contact their friends and family and put together an epic video for them! Whether it’s a lip-sync mash-up or just messages of love, it will make their day.
10. Deliver care packages. Safely deliver care packages to your loved ones who live nearby taking every precaution possible. Write a personalized note and include something that you know will make you smile.
Support a Small Business
11. Buy a gift card to your favorite local restaurant. This is a bonus one because you can give the gift card to someone you know to send them a smile! Or keep it for your own family so you have something to look forward to.
12. Continue workouts online. This one hits close to home because Anel’s business has taken a major hit in the last few weeks. But we are so lucky that many of his clients have been incredibly supportive and have continued their workouts with him online. If you work with a personal trainer, yoga instructor, or boot camp coach, reach out to see if they’re offering their services virtually. A ton of amazing companies are giving out free workouts online, but if you have any cash to spare, don’t forget the little guys! Shameless plug here 🙂
13. Shop locally. While you can’t go into a store, we realized this week that we could call our local toy store and place an order over the phone for curbside pickup. We needed to fill Amalia’s Easter basket and did it this way. Now that we know this, we’re trying to support local hardware stores and pharmacies as much as we can if they have safe pick up options instead of shopping Amazon so much.
14. Order takeout for curbside pick up and tip generously. Support your favorite local restaurants by ordering food for curbside pickup. We’ve been doing this once a week as a special treat and it is always an exciting adventure to drive there and back as a family. It’s the little things these days… Don’t forget to give a generous tip. It will go a long way. For my local followers, check out my Fairfield County Locals Guide for some of my personal favorite spots.
15. Offer a skill. If you have graphic design, web dev, or social media/marketing skills, reach out to your favorite local small businesses and ask them if they need help running their online presence. If you don’t have one of those skills yourself, reach out to friends who do and suggest the idea.
Let me know if you have other ideas for this challenge! Are you in?