The coronavirus pandemic is a strange animal. One moment we can feel the frustration of having to watch Frozen 2 for the 47th time this week, and the next we can feel grateful for extra time with the kids. For times when those feelings are overwhelming, there are things that Seattle families can do to help others and in return give ourselves a little peace of mind. From writing letters to seniors, to paying it forward with cupcakes and ice cream, to adopting a furry friend, here’s how you can make a difference in Seattle now.

photo: Tinte Cellars

Write Letters of Love

This is a project that will not only keep everyone in the family busy, but also serves as a creative outlet and a way to think of others. Join Teresa Spellman Gamble and Tim Gable, owners of Tinte Cellars is Woodinville, with their Letters of Love for the Elderly project. During this time of isolation, senior citizens may be feeling more isolated than ever. The Gables are encouraging families to pick up a pen (or crayon as the case may be) and create a homemade greeting card that can make someone’s day. Working with Northshore Senior Center, these cards are being distributed to senior communities in Woodinville, Bothell, Kenmore, Mill Creek and Kirkland. Learn more about the do’s and don’ts of this project here.

Mail your completed Letters of Love to:

Corey Lowell, Director of Senior Centers
Northshore Senior Center
10201 E. Riverside Dr.
Bothell, WA 98011

photo: Trophy Cupcakes

Send Emergency Cupcakes

Trophy Cupcakes are not only spreading frosting, but they are also spreading love to hospitals, first responders, families without enough and lonely seniors in the form of delicious cupcakes with their Pay it Forward program. Here’s how it works: you buy the cupcakes, they do the delivery. Plus, when our world gets back to (somewhat) normal, Trophy vows to continue to donate a dozen cupcakes for every dozen purchased through this Pay It Forward program. You’ll be supporting a local business and underserved communities at the same time. Doubly delicious.

photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Adopt a Baby...Gorilla

If you thought your kids were wild, wait until you become a Digital ZooParent to a baby gorilla, Humboldt penguin or red panda. Families interested in supporting Woodland Park Zoo’s relief fund, that provides much-needed daily care to the zoo's many animals, can donate $40 to make their adoption official. In return, you'll receive a PDF adoption certificate, desktop wallpaper of your newest addition (can you say new Zoom background?), bragging rights in the form of a Facebook frame and online recognition too. The best part? No diapers to change this time around.

Check on Your Neighbors

Now is a great time to check on neighbors you haven’t seen in a while and find out if they need any assistance. Perhaps they are short on a few groceries or would really like someone to walk their dog. Or maybe they need their lawn mowed. Leaving them a gift of flowers on their doorstep or sending the troops over to pick weeds in the garden can help curb boredom and show them that you care.

photo: Atrium

Share a Meal

As Chef Traci from Atrium Kitchen watched her booked events cancel due to COVID-19, she made up her mind to use this time to do something good for others by making fresh-prepared, nutrient-dense, nourishing meals and delivering them to home-bound seniors who are unable or fearful of leaving their homes. She has been making two “meal drops” every week since March 15 to home-bound seniors in Seattle, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill and Ballard, as well as to two shelters feeding the homeless. Here's how you can help. To start, if there is a home-bound senior in need, please connect Atrium Kitchen and they will add them to their delivery schedule. Second, if you are in a position to do so, they would value your contribution, as every bit helps.

photo: glassybaby

Give a Little Kindness

A generous pledge to glassybaby's white light foundation means that over the next few weeks, when you purchase a glassybaby, $10 will go to support frontline COVID-19 efforts. The plan is to donate $70,000 to hospital worker relief efforts and food banks supporting our community. Sounds like the perfect time to add to your collection or send a hopeful message to a friend, right?

Seattle families can also act as a beacons of hope by participating in glassybaby's #littlelightsofgratitude, a nightly light display happening in homes around the Sound. Simply light a glassbaby or another candle at 8 p.m. and place it in your window for everyone to see. Light your candles on April 23 to honor nursing home staff and on April 26 to honor teachers and school support staff.  

photo: Bliss Small Batch Creamery

Give a Little Bliss

Another local institution thanking local health care workers is Bliss Small Batch Creamery. They are letting our first responders know that they are seen, and that they care about them and appreciate all that they are doing every day. Bliss is doing that by packing up containers of ice cream and delivering them to local medical facilities, who get them to the amazing workers there. Here’s how you can help: buy a gift card for a friend or for yourself on Bliss’ website to redeem for ice cream in their shop at University Place, and Bliss will donate 50% of the sale of that card for those health care workers.

photo: Tulip Town

Send the Tulip Festival to Others

COVID-19 has impacted lots of local traditions and events, including Skagit Valley's annual Tulip Festival. Turning lemons into lemonade, Tulip Town is currently offering tulip deliveries to local hospitals, nursing homes and other courageous members of the community with their Color for Courage program. For $15, you can send a bunch of tulips to help brighten a stranger’s day as they recover from this horrible virus.

Support Your Local Restaurant

Some have estimated that local spending is down about 75%. So many local restaurants are operating on a shoestring budget in hopes of staying in business. They need our patronage more than ever before. Consider supporting a local business by buying a meal or two this week at one of your favorite restaurants. Many are offering free delivery too. You can also purchase a gift card now to use later when that restaurant opens up its doors again. The Pay Forward Project offers a variety of restaurant gift cards at one website location.

Donate Blood

Blood donation levels are low all across the country right now. The good news is that potential blood donors are exempt from stay-at-home orders in Washington. You have some time on your hands, right? Schedule an appointment with Bloodworks Donor Centers or the American Red Cross. Even those who have recovered from COVID-19 may be eligible to help those who are currently sick. Locations are pretty much everywhere, so it's easy to find one nearby.

Feed the Kids

For 30 years now, FareStart has been “helping people transform their lives through food” and escape the poverty cycle. FareStart teaches life skills through their restaurants and meal-serving programs giving people practical work experience while giving back to their community. That includes a variety of social programs and schools, and just because schools are no longer in session, the lunch programs continue. “Your contribution is not just a gift to transform a person's life, it is an investment in a model for real social progress.”

Help Out a Hospital

During these crazy days of COVID-19, local hospitals can really use our help to fight the pandemic. Donations given go toward medical supplies and critical equipment. Here are some local foundations that will put your donation to good use:

Virginia Mason Foundation 

Children’s Hospital Foundation & Guilds Association 

Overlake Foundation 

Swedish Foundation

Island Hospital Foundation

Skagit Community Foundation

—Jeffrey Totey

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