How You Can Help Your Community During the COVID-19 Crisis

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Wondering how you can best help our community during the COVID-19 pandemic? The best thing you can do is to stay at home but there are ways you can help from home. If your circumstances mean that you are able to donate and /or support our community in this unprecedented time of need, please read on for ideas where you can give money or volunteer to make an impact.

Look after your neighbours

We’re being asked to stay home at the moment, but you don’t have to go far to be of help to others. Helping out in your community could be as simple as dropping a note in an elderly neighbour’s letterbox to ask if they’d like you to pick up their groceries, mow their lawn or assist with something else. To help the community help each other, Lake Macquarie City Council has produced some printable Meet the Street cards that allow you to easily check-in on your neighbour. If you’re worried about someone who lives near you or just want to say hi, why not drop a note in their mailbox?

Thank frontline workers

Local woman Biarta Rhys-Jones is organising a Go Fund Me fundraiser called COVID Care Packages to boost morale and show the community’s support for all the frontline staff working in Emergency departments across Newcastle and Maitland. She is asking for kids to write thank you notes or draw a picture and write thanks- anything to boost the morale of front line workers. She is hoping to collect over 1000 notes so she can add these to the COVID Care Packages. You can contact Biarta by email or check out the Instagram page.

Pay it forward

Steel River Takeaway is doing a pay it forward campaign for staff at the John Hunter Hospital and Mater Hospital. They have set up a Pay It Forward category on their app. If you are able, order and pay online for a ready meal and they will deliver these daily to staff at John Hunter Hospital or the Mater to keep those on the frontline fed with nutritious homemade meals.

Pay it forward with Raw Energy Newcastle, who are giving away free coffee to our frontline health and emergency workers every Wednesday until the COVID-19 crisis is over.  Participate in this initiative by paying forward a coffee or two. Either contact the cafe by phone on 4927 9498 or in-person (adhering to social distancing rules). Frontline workers are encouraged to call ahead on Wednesdays to place their order for pickup. 

Take part in local neighbourhood campaigns

Do something to lift your neighbours’ spirits. As we’re confined to neighbourhood walks or bikes, take part in a local campaign. Grab your kids & chalk and get outside and decorate your sidewalk. Chalk Your Walk is the latest feel-good activity amidst COVID-19 outbreak. Bring some joy to the neighbourhood walk by drawing pictures, writing inspirational quotes, sending messages to your neighbours or whatever you want on your sidewalk, driveway or even on your front door in chalk.

You can also put a teddy bear in your window or on your verandah. It’s part of a new neighbourhood scavenger hunt in the age of coronavirus. As a tribute to the much-loved children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, people worldwide are placing teddy bears in their front windows for kids to spot. It’s a wonderful way for neighbours to do something fun for neighbourhood kids.

Give blood

Blood donations are needed more than ever. Australian Red Cross Lifeblood needs people to donate blood. Every blood donation helps save three lives, and with the current pandemic as well as the approaching influenza season, these products will be more useful than ever. As many states in Australia have limited non-essential activities, it is important to remember that blood and plasma donation remains absolutely vital, and travel and venue restrictions do not prevent people from giving blood. You can read more about donating and eligibility requirements on the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood website.

Helping vulnerable people in our community

Soul Cafe serves serve hot meals free of charge to the highly disadvantaged of the Newcastle region. Volunteers feed those in need, and help to link them to local community services. Donate to Soul Cafe.

OzHarvest Newcastle is a not-for-profit organisation that rescues excess food which would otherwise be discarded. This excess food is distributed to charities supporting the vulnerable in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, Maitland & Port Stephens. Donate to OzHarvest.

Donate food to your local Free Food Pantry

Community Pantries are popping up in neighbourhoods all around Newcastle and Lake Macquarie to help neighbours in need. They work like Street Libraries but have packaged food items for those in need. “Take what you need, leave what you can.” You can find the address to existing pantries and information on how to start your own one in their Facebook group, the Community Pantry Newcastle NSW.

Draw for Meals on Wheels

Draw a picture of a friend or someone you love to show them you are thinking them during this time of self-isolation. This could be a drawing, painting or chalk art, using any materials you have at home. Take a photo of your artwork and upload this to Meals on Wheels NSW Facebook page using the #MOWArtist, (make sure you set your post to public, in the privacy settings). Beyond Bank is donating $10 for every entry, to the value of $5000.  Get creative and start posting your artworks! Share with all of your family and friends (open to all ages) and help us reach our fundraising target!

Buy a virtual scone

With the cancellation of the Sydney Royal Easter Show, the Country Women’s Association (CWA) has lost its major source of fundraising income. They usually sell 50,000 scones at the show. But you can still support them. The CWA is asking people to go on to its online shop and buy virtual scone. You can purchase a plate of virtual scones for $5, a Devonshire tea for $10, a dozen plain virtual scones for $20 and a whole batch of cyber delicacies for $50. Although you won’t get a scone, you will receive a downloadable copy of the CWA’s famous scone recipe to make some of these much-loved treats at home.

Organise a care package

Put together a surprise package for a friend, family member or neighbour. You can put together an essential package of groceries together for an elderly family member or neighbour. You can also spread joy and do a surprise package for kids. One of the Newy with Kids writers recently received a package. “The kids just today received the most amazing package in the mail, from a friend. It had stickers, colouring books, art and craft and winter pyjamas. Totally unexpected and it made their day, was such a lovely gesture.” To replicate this gift, you can order online and get it delivered straight to a friend’s place (so that you don’t contravene social distancing regulations).

Thank a teacher

The past couple of weeks of homeschooling has highlighted the importance of teachers. Take the time to thank these teachers via email, SeeSaw or Google Classroom for their role in your children’s lives. Many of these teachers are devoting extra time to develop coursework that can be delivered online.

Keep your money local

Support local businesses. As much as you reasonably can, be thoughtful about where you spend your money. When you shop with local businesses, you are helping keep other families afloat. This includes supporting restaurants by ordering takeaway and online shopping with local shops whenever you can.

Make a homemade protective mask

If you have a 3D printer, you can make protective masks. For inspiration, read about  Dudley Public School Assistant Principal Jason Horadam and his fellow teacher and friend Craig Smith who are producing homemade protective masks for local GPs.

Register to work as a healthcare professional

If you’re a healthcare professional, or have experience in health administration or operation, you can register an expression of interest with NSW Health to work with them during the pandemic response. Head to the NSW Health website to register your interest.

Be a virtual volunteer

You might not want to leave your house, but there are opportunities to volunteer virtually. Check out the Seek Volunteer website. They have a category solely for Online & Remote Volunteers.

If you know of other community efforts or fundraising campaigns during this time, please email us.

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