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Helping Your Community in a Time of Social Distancing

By Citizens Bank Staff

Navigating these uncertain times is a challenge for so many people, businesses, and communities across the country right now. While we're all doing our part to stay home and stay healthy, we also want to be there to help those in need around us. It's important to stay connected with friends, family, and neighbors during this time, and there's a lot we can actually do to lend a hand and work together to be part of the solution — even while we’re practicing social distancing.

So, how can you make a difference? Even while you're staying safe at home, you can get involved and support the people and the businesses in your community. We're all going through this together and we're going to get through it together. Here are some ideas to make a positive impact in your community.

1. Connect with your local nonprofits

You can be a big help to nonprofits by sharing the great work they’re doing on your social media accounts. Follow your local nonprofit organizations and learn how they're helping others and what their needs are. Local food banks in particular are working harder than ever with fewer resources and are looking for volunteers and donors to help feed their clients. Many other organizations are shifting their operations or starting new initiatives to fill gaps where services have been affected by the coronavirus. Online is the best place to learn how you can participate in a way that works for you. Sometimes simply liking or following an organization (or even leaving a positive review) can go a long way in spreading the word.

2. Donate to your local charities

Financial donations are powerful acts of kindness and deliver immediate impact to nonprofits providing emergency responses to those most in need. Across the country, social service organizations are rallying to organize meal programs, provide groceries, and raise funds to support families. Financial donations or gift card purchases are easy to make online. Incredible groups like the United Way, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Feeding America could help many in your community with your support, and many have set up specific COVID-19 relief funds.

RELATED: Using Cash Back for a Cause

3. Support neighborhood businesses by shopping and eating local

Local stores and restaurants are really feeling the financial crunch in these unprecedented times. You can help your community by shopping at local independent grocery stores, drug stores, and supermarkets instead of the larger chains.

Many restaurants are keeping the doors open and offering takeout and delivery services. This is a great way to support the places you love and switch up your weekly routine. Tips for good service will be very appreciated by employees at this time!

For other local businesses in your area, gift cards are a simple way to bring in some much-needed income. Many stores are also open for business online with direct shipping or curbside pickup, so take a moment to shop around to see if you can purchase locally, like ordering books from a local bookstore. 

For regular service appointments like haircuts, classes, or massages, ask if you can pay for your regular appointment and reschedule when things are back in operation rather than cancelling altogether.

If you can afford it, consider continuing to pay service providers, like your dog walker, piano teacher, or house cleaner. Services like Zelle® and Venmo make it easy to stay contact-free while helping to show your support.

4. Donate blood

Red Cross blood services everywhere are in desperate need of blood donations. While many public blood drives have been cancelled, you can still make an appointment to donate safely at a local clinic. According to the Red Cross, the coronavirus doesn't pose any known risks for blood donors. Visit the Red Cross website to learn more about locations in your area.

5. Check in on friends, family, and anyone who might need it

Our circles of friends and family are crucial for staying healthy and positive during challenging times. It can be hard to be isolated from others, and many people are experiencing stress and anxiety, especially older people or anyone living by themselves. Now's the time to pick up the phone and call, message, or video conference with friends and loved ones. Reach out to anyone you think could benefit from hearing a friendly, familiar voice.

6. Volunteer in your neighborhood

Wherever you live, there are likely a few people who are in need of assistance right now. Elderly, high-risk, or incapacitated neighbors are encouraged to stay at home, and some of them might be on their own or far from family and friends. Give them a call or send them a message to make sure they're doing okay. If you’re healthy and able, offer to shop for groceries or run errands they might not be able to get out to do themselves. Of course, it's critical to stay safe and take precautions to avoid direct contact.

We’re in this together

Challenging times call for us all to work together and support our loved ones as well as our communities. We can take comfort in the fact that so many individuals in our communities and neighborhoods are willing and ready to lend a helping hand. Thank you for stepping up and wanting to make a difference, and many thanks to all the people who are doing the essential jobs that are keeping us safe and getting us ready for the great moments ahead.

At Citizens Bank, we’re pulling together to help strengthen the communities where we work and live. Read our press release to learn about our $5 million commitment to community organizations and small businesses in our service area, as well as the launch of a program to put $2 million of the bank’s commitment into the hands of our small business customers through a direct grant program.

Do you have questions about how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting your banking services? We’re ready to help. Check out the COVID-19 Resource Center for regularly updated news to stay informed and find resources for the support you need.

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