National Volunteer Week: 5 ways to support others while social distancing

Social distancing affects how we travel, work and live.

But, it doesn’t have to keep us from making a difference in our communites.

In 2019, TeamBlue employee volunteers from BlueCross donated 11,398 hours of their time to help causes and organizations that matter to them. While it may look different this year, opportunities are still available to support friends, family and our communities from a safe distance.

In support of National Volunteer Week, which runs April 19-25 2020, here are 5 ways you can support others while following social distancing recommendations:

1. Donate blood

With schools and workplaces closed, there has been a decline in both blood drives, and donations. But, there’s still a tremendous need for blood donations. Blood banks are taking extra measures to make sure their facilities are safe including adding extra cleaning procedures, spacing out chairs and sitting areas and requiring an appointment.

To make an appointment, visit Blood Assurance or the American Red Cross website to search for a donation center in your area.

2. Support a local food bank

The South is home to 9 out of 10 states with the highest rates of food insecurity, including Tennessee. And, due to the economic impact of COVID-19, the need for food is becoming even greater.

While there are in-person opportunties to help pack or deliver meals, you can also consider donating money, if you are able. Every $1 donated to a food bank helps provide up to 4 meals, which is more than you may be able to purchase at your local grocery store.

In March, the BlueCross Foundation made a $3.25 million donation to food banks across the state of Tennessee. Find one in your area below, and explore the ways you can help, or locate food if you are in need.

3. Connect with elderly neighbors

BlueCross employees are volunteering with the senior citizen virtual phone bank through the City of Chattanooga, and you can too.

All participants are given a script with instructions on how to make and log calls. The script will include topics to cover and questions to ask to make sure our neighbors are informed with the latest COVID-19 information. You can sign up to participate here. This opportunity is open to anyone regardless of where they live, but you can also look for similar initiatives in your area.

You can also check in on those closest to you. Whether it’s someone down the street or elderly loved ones, make sure they have essential goods, and offer to include any needed items in your own weekly run. Or, just call to chat, and ask how they are doing to help their mental wellbeing.

 4. Virtually ‘check in’ on your loved ones with kids

As schools remain closed, many parents are balancing their day jobs with the added responsibility of ensuring their children are “attending” school from home. It’s no easy feat, and you may have already experienced a video call (or two) where a child made an unannounced guest appearance.

While many sites are offering online readings and drawing sessions for children, you can do the same thing to help your friends with children. Offer to connect over video and read a story, lead a craft or have a “virtual” play date with your own kids. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, this may be a mental break your loved ones need to get through the day.

5. Send ecards or share photos to front line workers using social media

There are many ways to say thank you to front line employees and #HealthCareHeroes working so those of us at home have access to essential goods, health care, utilities, mail and much more.

To show our support, BlueCross mailed its 6,500 employees a yard sign thanking those individuals who remain “in the field.” You may spot the signs across the state of Tennessee or on social media using hashtags like #HealthCareHeroes.

Write a note, or have your children draw a card showing their appreciation. There are many creative ways to show your support for the heroes in our lives from a safe distance.

BlueCross supporting you

As we navigate these challenging times, coming together to support each other is more important now than ever, even while remaining physically apart. For the full BlueCross response to COVID-19, visit BCBSTupdates.com.

But, BlueCross employees don’t just come together to help others during times of greater need. See the following stories to learn more about how we gave back to our communities in 2019:

Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor

Katie joined the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee corporate communications team in 2020. As a recent University of South Carolina graduate and Chattanooga transplant, she has experience in brand journalism, social media management and employee communications. When she’s not at BlueCross, Katie’s running the Chattanooga Riverwalk, enjoying a coffee at her favorite local shop or traveling to visit friends and family.

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BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also use tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the in the Member Wellness Center under the Managing Your Health tab.

Filed under: Home & Work

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Katie Taylor

Katie joined the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee corporate communications team in 2020. As a recent University of South Carolina graduate and Chattanooga transplant, she has experience in brand journalism, social media management and employee communications. When she’s not at BlueCross, Katie’s running the Chattanooga Riverwalk, enjoying a coffee at her favorite local shop or traveling to visit friends and family.