10 Ways to Do Good From a Distance

Mar 25, 2020 | by The Salvation Army

These are uncertain times. With the threat of COVID-19 prompting us to shelter at home to “flatten the curve,” our day-to-day lives look different. Kids are home from school. Restaurants are closed or only open for delivery. Friends keep their distance. Our jobs are no longer a given.

Despite the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty many people feel, we can still choose to do good and make a difference from afar. Here are some ways you can continue to do good from a distance. For a more hands-on approach, we still need volunteers at our locations throughout Silicon Valley.

1. Check on your neighbors

If you don’t already know your neighbors, now is a good time to get in touch. Leave a note on their door, or send them a text if you’re already friends, and make sure they’re doing okay. You never know who might be in need.

2. Keep your distance

It should go without saying, but many people have reported coming into contact with others who aren’t respecting the recommended six feet of space between people. Be kind to the people you encounter and do your part to stop the spread of germs by minding your distance. If you’re worried about seeming offish or unkind, you can always flash a smile or say “hello” from afar.

3. Write letters of encouragement

Technology is a blessing when we’re physically separated from our friends and family, but FaceTime and text messages aren’t the only way to stay in touch with the people you love. Now is a great time to break out the stationary and hand-write some snail mail. Receiving an unexpected letter spreads cheer and reminds others that you’re thinking of them.

4. Join a social movement

There have been numerous social movements, both large and small, aimed to spread hope and cheer amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

  • Neighbors in Italy were filmed singing with one another from their balconies. 
  • People have written sidewalk chalk messages to inspire the growing number of people outside walking. 
  • Others placed teddy bears in windows so kids in the neighborhood could go on a “bear hunt.” 
  • For the rainbow project, families across the world have created rainbows with the message “Let’s all be well” to inspire hope.

It’s easy to participate in these social movements, and the impact can be big, as we join together in solidarity and inspire hope.

5. Set boundaries

Before we can do good for others, we must also do good for ourselves and our families. Many people have reported being glued to their phones, simultaneously consuming coronavirus news and then feeling anxious about it. Set boundaries for the information you’ll consume, the conversations you’ll allow to revolve around COVID-19, the language you’ll use to discuss the virus with your kids. This is one aspect of your life where YOU truly have complete control. 

6. Tip generously

Delivery drivers have joined the ranks of medical professionals, grocery store workers, truck drivers, utilities personnel and others who continue to show up to work each day, despite the risk, so others can safely shelter at home with as few disruptions as possible. Tip your delivery driver a little extra to show your appreciation.

7. Support small businesses

Small businesses have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak, especially those who only have brick-and-mortar locations. If possible, support your small businesses in the following ways:

  • Reschedule, but don’t cancel
  • Shop online instead of your usual in-person order
  • Place a pick-up order from a local restaurant
  • Share when small businesses you love have sales or new offers
  • Buy groceries or paper goods for small business owners in need

8. Donate to the front lines

We anticipate a significant increase in emergency assistance needs for low-wage employees facing layoffs due to COVID-19. The support we provide – like rent/mortgage and food assistance – will become more urgent as the situation evolves. Other nonprofits will likely see similar increases in need. Monetary donations remain the best way you can support organizations on the front lines. You can aid our relief programs here: Donate Now >

9. Give freely

Have more toilet paper than you need? Does everyone in your household still have a job, while your neighbors are forced to stay home from their jobs? Is your freezer stocked? Think about what “enough” means to you, and then give to others in need, when possible. These small “gifts” make a huge impact in the lives of our neighbors.

10. Reduce your footprint

One of the only unexpected benefits of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a more sustainable environment. You can extend that reduced footprint even more (while also gaining confidence about your ability to have enough supplies) in the following ways:

  • Be mindful of the toilet paper, paper towels and other disposable supplies you use
  • Purchase reusable alternatives: cloth diapers that can be rewashed, or cleaning rags that can be reused, are great ideas
  • Drive as little as possible. Try to grocery shop just once per week, and stay home except for essential activities.
  • Plant a garden to ensure you’ll have access to fresh fruits and veggies all summer. Bonus: this is a great activity that the whole family can be involved in doing.

We hope these ideas will help you do good from a distance and stay positive despite these trying times. Please know that The Salvation Army’s response plans always include emotional and spiritual support, and we are here for anyone needing encouragement or prayer.

Learn more about how we're serving during the coronavirus outbreak >

Recent Stories

Get Involved

Subscribe to receive more stories, directly in your inbox!


A gift to The Salvation Army helps someone in your community.

Give Now



Do Good in your community

Find Worship

Join us throughout the week for worship, fellowship, Bible study, meals, community service and fun.