As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, it’s important to spend time taking care of ourselves and finding small moments of joy — but it’s also a pivotal time for us to find deeper meaning through giving back to others. Showing up for our community in the midst of these challenging times can help us stay connected while we’re social distancing, and boost our health and well-being in the process. 

Here at Thrive, we’ve teamed up with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and CAA to launch First Responders First, providing healthcare workers with personal protective equipment, free childcare through Bright Horizons, and other resources that will bolster their mental and physical well-being as they continue to stand on the frontlines of this crisis.

We asked our Thrive community members to share the creative ways they’re helping others during the pandemic. Perhaps you will consider trying out one of their strategies or contributing to our First Responders First campaign by visiting the site here.

Give coffee to an essential employee

“A local coffee shop nearby started a ‘Pay It Forward’ board. I purchased a couple of large coffees that any essential employees can redeem at a later time. With the ‘Pay It Forward’ board, contributors can gift a coffee to anyone they choose, while simultaneously supporting a small business. This particular coffee shop also donates a portion of every purchase to non-profit organizations, so the giving extends beyond our local community.” 

—Alyssa Swantkoski, executive assistant, Denver, CO

Order and donate supplies through an online marketplace

“I have been using the online marketplace Everest Effect to purchase supplies for those in need. Most recently, I purchased food items that were requested directly by the York Street Project, which went to help women and their children. So many people are struggling financially right now, and using this platform is a great way to give them exactly what they need.”

—Sarah Solomon, publicist, Asheville, N.C.

Share encouraging stories

“I aim to spread joy. I seek out stories of hope and compassion, and share them with others to encourage them and help them see the bright side of things.”

—Chris Simon, executive coach, Bentonville, AR

Focus on small gestures with larger impact

“I started a Facebook page for women to keep them fired up and positive. I’m leading free webinars on how to look and sound your best online. I’ve also organized mask-sewing in our neighborhood to help provide masks to hospitals, delivered toilet paper and paper towels to those in need, offered to run errands for neighbors, and left signs for our postal carriers and garbage collectors to thank them for their service.” 

—Snowden McFall, speaker, author, and women’s coach, Jacksonville, FL 

Write about it 

“The global pandemic has had a huge impact on my small town, especially on the many small businesses that make up the local economy. One such business is the city’s newspaper, The State Journal. The paper has been serving Frankfort since 1902, and like most newspapers, it relies heavily on retail advertising. Since most retail businesses in Frankfort have been shut down, the paper’s primary revenue stream has taken a significant hit. I wanted to help in some way, and since I’m a writer, I thought of an idea for a series of articles about local people and how they’ve been impacted by the coronavirus. I pitched the idea to the paper and now I’m writing the articles at no charge, in an effort to support my local newspaper and my community.”

—Keith E. Smith, freelance writer, Frankfort, KY 

Connect through virtual cooking

“I’ve been hosting free online cooking classes for kids. The sessions provide them a way to be part of a community. I’ve had families, friends, and even school groups cook together and connect. The classes are a chance to go back to basics, learn a new skill, add a recipe to the family repertoire, cook healthy meals, and learn about ingredients and frugal cooking. The best thing is seeing the kids’ pride in their creations and watching their confidence grow.”

—Nicole Freeman, cooking school owner and hypnotherapist, London, England

Purchase gift cards from local businesses

“My family and I are giving back in a few ways. We’ve purchased gift cards from our small town’s restaurants, stores, and fitness studios and have been making masks and mask extenders for our local healthcare workers.” 

—Amanda Holdsworth, PR and brand strategy, Royal Oak, MI

Offer words of kindness

“COVID-19 has brought the struggles of millions of individuals to the forefront of our attention, but there are millions who have these same struggles each and every day — it’s simply not publicized. That’s why I’ve signed up for daily emails from 365-give, a program that encourages individuals to give something every single day. The emails provide new ideas on how to give every day. Today’s email suggested sending someone a text telling them why you love them. These are so many simple ways to give and create joy for others!”

—Brie LaPrell, accountant, Buffalo, N.Y.

Order meals for healthcare workers 

“I’ve been sending meals to hospital staff through a local restaurant. It’s a small way to show gratitude for frontline workers.” 

—Kristin Meekhof, life coach and author, Birmingham, MI 

Use your expertise to fuel the economy 

“I find ways to use my skill set and offer those skills to friends. For example, I’ve used my skills in web design to help two women in my hometown get an e-commerce page set up so they can begin driving sales they’ve lost from closing their brick-and-mortar location. I’ve also given a friend some sanitizing wipes after I saw her request in an Instagram story. I didn’t charge these women anything, and it came at no cost to me, as it was extremely gratifying to help women get on a path to success, security, and safety.” 

—Cecilia Grey, client liaison and content creator, Santa Barbara, CA

Spread the word on social media

“I recently graduated from business school, and many of my dear friends have launched their startups in the last year. Some were hoping to kickstart their enterprises within the last few months, but COVID-19 got in the way. I am supporting my friends by promoting their businesses on social media platforms, buying their merchandise, and telling others about their work. My efforts to help might be minuscule, but I believe any kind of support can help plant seeds of hope. And hope can encourage them to continue following their dreams.” 

—Jeannette Paulino, management consultant, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

Share your knowledge 

“Besides donating money, I decided the best thing that I could do to help those in need is sharing my knowledge. I started offering free resume writing webinars in March. The response from attendees has been great. But the truth is, it helps me as much as it helps them.”

—Annette Richmond, executive resume writer, Fairfield County, CT

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.