Friday 5 for 10/04/2013

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It’s time again for the Friday Five. As my regular readers know, I was a government contractor in a “previous life”. I know folks who are out of work because of the government shutdown. With no idea when their next pay check may come, life is a giant ball of anxiety for them. Then there are the programs that aren’t getting funded or staffed and the trickle down impact that’s having on people all over the country creating a whole bucket of fear and anxiety on people everywhere.

English: Sign in front on of the Minnesota His...

So instead of the usual five (probably) random, (rarely) newsworthy and on (nearly every) occasion strange or unique stories, I thought I would share five things you could do to help people who find themselves between a rock and a hard-place because of the shutdown. No matter where you stand on the politics of this thing, I don’t know any premature infants getting special formula through WIC or kids with cancer waiting to start drug trials who did anything to put themselves into the position they’re in. Maybe, just maybe, there’s something we can do to help out our fellow human beings to make things a little less scary. Maybe you’ll find something to share with your buddies at Ultimate Frisbee this weekend.

1. Donate to your local food bank! Call and ask what they need most and get that. If you can, give money so they can get fresh produce or special items. Find out if they accept things like personal hygiene or baby care items – if the shutdown continues people will need these items too. If the shutdown doesn’t continue these are the kind of items that people put below keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table. Soap, toothpaste and detergent may not seem like luxury items to most of us, but sometimes they are…It’s something to think about the next time you go to that big box store. (Side note, animal shelters are usually in need too.)

2. Donate your time! This is something even those affected by the shutdown can do – and it might even help give you something to do and keep your mind off of things for a few hours. Places like food banks might be getting busier and could probably use a hand. Animal Shelters could use people to help walk dogs. Women’s shelters, libraries, and programs impacted by the shutdown might need some volunteers. Give them a call.

3.  Take a look around and see who might need help. Do you have a neighbor who doesn’t know when they might get their next paycheck? Do you know a mom who depends on WIC to feed her kids and is scared she might not be able to feed them? A gift card to the grocery store or to Amazon could make a huge difference to them. Just don’t make a big deal about it, send it anonymously in the mail, slip it under the door, leave it on a windshield and take the opportunity to be someone’s Guardian Angel. If it’s someone you’re really close to invite them to dinner, give them some moral support and tell them everything is going to be OK (even if you’re not sure it will be) because it’ll help a lot to hear it.

4.  Donate blood. I know that isn’t necessarily a government shutdown specific item, but it’s something that is always needed. I’ve heard that there have been some blood donation collection locations that were closed because they were government sponsored, but there are still places to donate. If you can give blood, please do!

5. Finally, be kind to one another. One of the things I remember most after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 was the feeling of taking care each other that swept through the country. People were scared, but they were a little bit nicer. They held doors open for each other. They stopped to help a stranger when dropped something. Maybe that’s something we can try to do again. A lot of people are a little freaked out and being a little kinder will go a long way to making people feel better. It doesn’t cost you anything. You don’t need to take extra hours out of your day. Just be kind – hold the door open for a mom struggling with a stroller, grab the grocery cart for someone caught in the rain, help pick up what the toddler throws all over the floor at the store without giving Mom nasty looks. It’s not much but it could make a huge difference.

That’s this week’s Friday 5. I hope you found some ideas on what you can do to help make a difference during the shutdown.

If you have an idea for next week’s Friday 5, or if you would like to Guest Write the Friday 5, I would love to hear from you! Send me a note here and we’ll get you on the blog!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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