Everyone has had the thought to bring about change in their neighbourhood. Whether it be sprucing up an especially drab strip of sidewalk, volunteering at a charity, or simply getting to know your neighbours a bit better – we could all use some neighbourly love.
Often we can feel like we don’t have any time or feel a little powerless to make any real difference around us. But you don’t need to be a city councillor or have a massive amount of free time to make a change for good – you need a small project to start with, the right idea and a free weekend! Improving the area you live in can start with a small step and free afternoon, so show some neighbourhood love in February and check our favourite five ways to make a difference in the community you call home:
Random acts of kindness
Making a difference to the people around you doesn’t need to start big! To get you thinking here are ten small pay-it-forward ideas to get you started:
- Make sandwiches or baked goods for the local old age home or shelter in your area. Somewhere people would like a treat or an extra meal.
- Send or drop off a meal with someone you know who is living on their own.
- Donate books and educational supplies to a neighbourhood playschool.
- Consider paying a lay-by for someone - go to any local store where people tend to buy school uniforms at the start of the year and ask the cashiers if you can pay off someone’s lay-by for school-related supplies.
- Offer to walk your neighbour’s dog if you see they’ve been too busy wrangling and home-schooling kids while balancing working from home. Your neighbour and Fido will appreciate the gesture.
- Pay for a sponsored meal at your local restaurant.
- Send words of encouragement to your neighbours. Slip a little note under your neighbours’ door or in their post box with some encouraging words. We all have a hard time at some point, and a little affirmation can go a long way to making someone feel seen and encouraged.
- Go around the neighbourhood and pick up litter to help everyone enjoy your street with pride.
- Sponsor someone’s groceries at a local grocery store.
Showing Gratitude for overburdened Healthcare workers
With the current COVID crisis, healthcare workers and allied professionals are overworked and overburdened on the front lines. Think hearty baked goods or nutritious lunch packs for your very own healthcare worker food delivery service! You can make your own pre-made lunches or biscuits and drop them off at your local clinic or hospital. Ensure that when delivering the parcels, you maintain good hygiene practices, social distancing, mask-up, and make sure that you sanitise your hands before and after delivery.
You could also choose to rally the neighbourhood and work out a rotation schedule to deliver a regular supply of home-made sweet treats! Don’t forget about the support staff and drop off a flower bouquet at the reception area with your delivery to lift their spirits. This little bit of effort will go a long way in showing gratitude and appreciation for our hardworking healthcare workers.
Offer elderly neighbours a helping hand
There are many ways to look after our more senior neighbours. To protect the most vulnerable members of our community and keep them safe, you could do grocery and pharmacy runs as well as essential tasks like dog-walking, watering sidewalk gardens, raking up leaves and trimming difficult to reach plants and trees.
A lot of elderly neighbours are rather isolated or live alone. In light of this, you could organise a socially distanced sidewalk tea party. You could also make sure to check in with them every week so that they have someone to chat to regularly. All of these ideas will help reduce contact points for seniors so that they can stay as safe as possible.
Support local businesses in your area (local grocer, gardening, restaurants)
Throughout all the levels of lockdown, local businesses have taken a hard knock. If you haven’t explored your area recently, take a look around to see if you can spot local grocers, nurseries, fresh produce vendors, coffee shops, hidden restaurants and takeaway spots or artisans and makers you haven’t noticed before.
Engage with small business owners and get to know their stories and find out how you can support them better. Most storefronts nowadays have excellent COVID safety protocols, so take a walk and explore the neighbourhood. Making purchases in these stores goes a long way to supporting the local economy and uplifting your community. Make sure to share your experience on social media so that they can get some free marketing too!
Get your neighbours involved in a clothing drive! As seasons change and kids grow older, closets can pile up with ill-fitting or unwanted clothing. A closet clean-out is a great way to declutter your bedrooms as well as collect donations for local homeless shelters and children’s homes.
You can organise a community clothing drive through group chat or a video call. Tell your neighbours to round up any unused clothing and wash it to make sure everything is ready to wear. Then they can bag the clothing up into categories for women, men, and boys and girls.
Set up a socially distanced drop off station at your house where the neighbours can then drop off their donations at your front door. For safety, they can each schedule separate times to drop their goods off to ensure that physical contact is limited. Make sure to follow COVID protocols by wearing masks and having sanitiser available at the drop off station. Once everyone has dropped off all their bags, you can drop them off at your local shelters and places of safety.
Clothing is only the beginning; you can run similar drives for other items like dry goods parcels, sanitary pads and/or pet food for the local animal shelter. Call up local NGOs and charity organisations in your area to find out what they need the most and organise your next drive. This is a wonderful way to band the neighbourhood together for a good cause and meet an urgent need in your community.