Helping At A Difficult Time

Are you feeling useless and powerless?

HelpingWelcome to our club. You have lots of company because we have endless numbers of members. We’re not a bit exclusive. There are no initiation rites, and no need to sign up. We’re all in this together, simply because we’re human. And you know, no matter how much we rant and rave, make useless promises, or whine, here we are. Still. Together.

This week when a wonderful reader named Delores told me she had moved from making multiple “regular” masks to making masks for the hearing impaired–44 done on her way to 55–I was, as always, impressed with her commitment not only to making the best of a bad (!) situation, but to helping others make the best of theirs.  These two masks are just some of those she’s made, the larger for adults and the smaller for children.

In her email she said: “Also scrub caps for a hospital in North Carolina.  I just finished 74 pleated style masks for my daughter’s first grade class.   Belle, Little Mermaid, Cars and Ninja Turtles.  I was able to get a lightweight polypropylene to use as a third layer so can use lighter weight fun fabrics.  I think I have wore my 19 year old machine about out.”

And this, friends, is only the most recent part of her output. Altogether she has made more than 1300 masks. Delores says that she believes we’re put on this earth to help each other. Nobody will doubt her commitment to that ideal.

I’m so glad there are people like Delores and like others of you who are helping in your communities. Not only do you help, you inspire others to help, as well.

This week I looked into other ways of helping. Think of these as “service projects” for that club I mentioned. Of course there are a lot of suggestions online for possibilities, but I thought I’d beat that drum here, as well.

First: Take safety precautions for yourself and others.

  • Wash your hands a million times a day. Or maybe half a million? I posted some twenty-second inspirational songs to sing while you do, combining meditation/prayer with cleanliness. I sing one every time now, sometimes adding my own lyrics. My new Johnny Appleseed grace: The Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the sky above, the food I eat and the ones I love, the Lord is good to me. This morning I timed the first verse of Amazing Grace. It takes thirty seconds, if you sing it right, so that gives you time to dry your hands, too. What a bargain.
  • Wearing a mask is essential when you’re out in public, and it’s no more an infringement of our basic rights and freedom than wearing clothing in the same situation.  I haven’t seen anybody screaming about their right to walk naked down the street lately, have you? Your mask protects those around you. Wearing it is an act of faith and love. Find one you can tolerate. No, they aren’t fun. But they are better than ventilators, right?

Second: Reach out to those around you.

I’ll confess I don’t like to talk on the telephone. I don’t know why and it doesn’t matter. I often put off phone calls for that reason, hoping I can have a real conversation in person at some point. But this is no time to back off from friends and neighbors. And real conversations in person? Not happening that much, are they? So now’s the time to get on the phone, to email or text, to learn to use Zoom and Face Time and every other technological advance that’s making it possible to stay in touch. Find a project you can do with someone. Read to a child. The possibilities are many.

Everybody’s lonely, even if they’re living with others. And those who aren’t? They need special care. You can do it from your sofa without risk of infection.

Third: Make donations if you can.

This is a difficult time financially for many people, and this may be impossible for you. But if you can afford it? Find an organization you trust, one that’s helping the unemployed, the first responders, those people in need of essential services.

Charity Navigator, which rates charities on financial health, code of conduct and accountability, suggests these possibilities. Read the article before you choose. If you already have a charity in mind? Type the name into the Charity Navigator website and see how your choice is rated. We make a monthly donation to our denomination’s service committee, but not before I thoroughly checked to be sure they were responsible and helping in the ways I most want to support.

Here’s an article that details other ways of donating. They suggest food, PPE, hard to find supplies you might have stocked up on, computers and clothing. So many people don’t have computers they can use for their children’s school work, or to find a new job or stay in touch with families. And now that many library computers aren’t available, they have no place to go. Maybe you have an old laptop you can lend or give? And while some second-hand clothing charities may not accept clothing in person, some are accepting clothing by mail. Isn’t this a great time to clean out your closet? Mine sure needs it.

The article I mentioned, Coronavirus: How to Help and Give Back, has many other terrific suggestions. Rather than detail them here, I’ll send you there.  But here’s one that all of us can do. Leave messages of gratitude and comfort here for our health heroes, who are risking their lives to help us stay safe.

See what else you can find. The possibilities are legion.

We’re in this together. I’m hoping that the club we involuntarily joined will disband very soon. None of us will be sorry to turn in our membership cards. But I’m hoping when I look back at these months, I’ll find something I did that made a difference.

I bet you do, too.



  1. Judy Zell on September 3, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Wonderful! You are so inspiring. Thank you.

  2. Denise Almazar on September 3, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    At your suggestion at the beginning of all this hand washing business, I started singing the doxology every time I wash my hands. It takes 20 seconds to sing if you don’t rush it. If I sing fast, I add a heartfelt AMEN at the end. I think of you every time I wash my hands! 😊. I have also tried to mail letters or notes to friends old and new just to thank them, send an encouraging word, or just touch base with them. It has been fun!

    • Emilie Richards on September 8, 2020 at 2:21 pm

      Nobody has ever told me that they think of me when they wash their hands. You’ve given me something new to smile about!

  3. DELORES on September 3, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    Thank you for the kind words about my sewing efforts of the last five months! It has kept me sane—no time to get bored.

    I started out singing Happy Birthday when hand washing when this all started in March. I tried Amazing Grace today. Nice change! You packed so much common sense information in that blog!

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