Other Voices: Let’s make a difference – here’s how

It seems incredible how the COVID pandemic has changed the way people go about their daily routine. Our lives have all been turned upside down. Many people have lost jobs, while the lucky ones work from home and manage to juggle professional responsibilities and family, monitoring children attending virtual classes.

It’s sad that many small businesses have closed permanently.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, what can we do to help people in need get through the weeks and months ahead? Many nonprofit organizations are doing their utmost to distribute fresh groceries to people struggling to put food on the table. Second Harvest Food Bank, Feed The Hungry, Self-Help for the Elderly and many other nonprofits are busy serving hot meals, delivering food to homebound seniors and donating food to people who need help while being laid off. Now more than ever, the nonprofits need contributions to meet these urgent needs.

We can each do a little to help sustain others in need. Cash donations would certainly help. We could donate old clothing to those who could use socks, scarves, sweaters and coats for the approaching winter. We could pick up the phone and call homebound seniors living alone to make sure they have the basic necessities. A simple phone call or email to a friend with words of comfort and encouragement could help lift someone’s spirits.

Those in a position to help could purchase gifts from a nonprofit like the World Wildlife Fund, which helps protect endangered animals in the wild. For example, purchasing a stuffed panda for a grandchild indirectly helps advance the mission of the WWF to train local villagers to convert former poachers to protectors of wildlife, patrolling the wilderness. We could support a local nonprofit like the Wildlife Conservation Network, which collaborates with international agencies that protect penguins in Patagonia, elephants and cheetahs in Africa and polar bears in the Arctic. We could support the Environmental Defense Fund and other nonprofits that serve as sentinels monitoring the health of the planet, public lands and waterways. If we can get our children and grandchildren excited about the protection of wildlife, and the Earth’s natural resources, we could be fostering a new generation of animal activists and future environmentalists. Now that would be truly forward-thinking.

Each one of us can contribute to a greater cause – we just have to mobilize our energy and direct our attention to ways that we can make a difference. We should reach out and help people first, and direct resources to support the key nonprofits that are meeting the critical needs of food, shelter and health for those in need. We should also channel resources to preserving and improving the health of our planet and not let climate change bring on catastrophic consequences to people and wildlife.

We are in this together and will recover as a nation if we help each other without being entangled in politics.

Diana Chan is a Los Altos Hills resident and author.

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