We're in this together. Find creative ways to give back and spread cheer ... you'll be glad you did.

Yep, COVID-19 has changed the way we do many things this year. I'm not sure about you, but I'm pretty tired of the words "unprecedented," "challenging," and "uncertain." While the terms are technically true, the overuse of them has hung like a dark cloud over my head as an invader.

I wonder what would happen if we all took a deep breath and set aside the isolating fatigue that this year has created. What if we continued to serve, to give back, to bring happiness to those around us?

Are you up to the challenge? I am! Let's all find ways to spread a new infectious and contagious virus ... generosity.

Give Money

One of the safest ways to give back is to open your checkbook. Or use your debit card. Many shelters, organizations, and nonprofits are expecting a drop in donations this year. While that's not surprising, we can all do something about it. The needs in each community are still there (if not increasing). Consider making a generous donation to your local charities to help meet needs. Or choose a couple of charities to support. 

Especially if you're at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, stay safe. Giving financially is a great way to meet needs and support the charities that already have systems in place to best meet the local needs.

Check On Your Neighbors

How often do we knock on the door of our next-door neighbors to just be friendly? Take the time to make this a priority. It will take time and intentionality, but you can schedule it. Block out a few days to go up and down the street. Or consider stopping by a couple of houses each week between now and the end of the year. It might even be a chance for you to learn the names of those who moved in months ago.

While visiting this way is in-person, you can still practice social distancing. Be prepared and wear a face mask. After you ring the doorbell, take a few steps back to create at least six feet of distance between you and the door. Enjoy a couple of minutes of conversation while you engage your neighbors. For older neighbors or those who may be at higher risk, offer to pick up items at the grocery. 

Donate Clothes and Gently Used Items

Especially with the colder temperatures of fall and winter, coats, hats, gloves, and winter wear are still needed at local shelters and charities. Go through your closets and donate gently-used winter clothing. Go the extra mile and wash them before donating as an added gift to the receiver. 

Many local charities have COVID-19-friendly processes to drop off much-needed items. Contact the charity directly for hours of operation and specific drop-off procedures.

Contact Local Food Kitchens

You already have your favorite charities and local organizations. You may have a tradition of serving meals at a local shelter the week of Thanksgiving or completing small home improvement projects for those in need. Giving of your time and of yourself doesn't need to stop because of COVID-19. The process might just look a little different.

Rather than assuming the specific needs or parameters in place for social distancing, take the time to contact the organization and ask questions. Are they serving meals? Do they allow volunteers onsite? What other ways do they need help? Embrace the joy of giving even if it causes you to adjust your plans a bit more.

Pick Up the Phone

That's right. The device in your hand is not just for games and checking the latest Facebook Marketplace find. Dial the numbers of friends and family—whether they live locally or across the country. Enjoy spending time on the phone catching up, sharing life's tidbits, and genuinely asking how the other person is doing.

Many people are feeling more and more isolated this year. It could mean the world to someone in your life that you cared enough to call. Depending on how the conversation goes, you may want to consider another call in a couple of weeks. 

AmeriCorps outlined other great ways to stay in contact with others in your community and serve. 

How have you enjoyed serving others in your community? Tell us in the comments below.