Over the past week, an outpouring of kindness has been playing out on my Nextdoor feed. One neighbor has an extra tray of homemade enchiladas available for any family in need. Another is organizing a “bear hunt” where we put teddy bears in our windows for children to spot while out on walks. Toilet paper donations, Costco runs for the elderly, and various “how is everyone doing?” posts are flooding the neighborhood social networking site.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Nextdoor was often a forum of grumpy — usually trivial — rumbles. Now, amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, many are stepping up for a greater good and wondering: “How can I help my neighbors during this stressful time?” And they’re doing so in a creative manner as we practice social distancing or even sheltering in place methods to help prevent the spread of the virus.
One idea that’s gaining some momentum on social media: Adding canned goods and non-perishables to the neighborhood Little Free Library outposts so that they double as community pantries. Not only does this help provide food for those in your community who are financially insecure amid mass layoffs and furloughs, but it also abides by the rules of social distancing.
Twitter user @smashleyhamer shared a photo of a Little Free Library in her Chicago neighborhood that says “To help our neighbors affected by the COVID-19 crisis, this Little Free Library is converted to a Little Free Pantry. Take what you need and if you can, please donate what you can spare!”
Seen in my Chicago neighborhood.
Sign says "To help our neighbors affected by the COVID-19 crisis, this Little Free Library is converted to a Little Free Pantry. Take what you need and if you can, please donate what you can spare!" pic.twitter.com/HtrUHNv9BG
— Ashley Hamer Pritchard (@smashleyhamer) March 18, 2020
On Instagram, the #littlefreepantry has a few thousand posts like this one from Instagram user @foxeslovelemons about a Little Free Pantry that was opened up so that neighbors can share non-perishable foods, personal care items and art and school supplies.
User d_l_maygielde said she and her family converted this Little Free Library by attaching a bottle of hand sanitizer to it and stocking it with staples such as rice, sugar and flour. “These days call for creative ways to connect, am I right?” she said in her post.
I love the idea and am trying to help it gain some momentum in my own neighborhood by adding a couple of canned goods to our Little Free Pantry each time I’m out walking my dog.
Around the country and world, we’re seeing amazing instances of neighbors lifting one another’s spirits, whether it’s U.S. households putting Christmas lights back up to bring cheer, Italians singing together from their balconies, or a fitness instructor in Spain who is leading classes from a rooftop.
We love how our neighborhoods been extending support during this global pandemic!