5 ways people are supporting each other during the coronavirus crisis

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Free yoga classes, free shark story hours, and charitable giving are just some of the ways people are making the best of a tough situation.

As much of America and the world hunkers down for social distancing to fight the coronavirus pandemic, people are finding creative ways to support the vulnerable members of their communities, educate kids whose schools are closed, and entertain themselves and others.

Here are five ways people are trying to make things better for humanity.

Contributing to those in need

As communities work to face both the public health crisis and the economic challenges surrounding it, many people are looking for ways to donate. Charity Navigator maintains a list of trustworthy charitable organizations working domestically and internationally "to purchase much-needed medical supplies and provide assistance to individuals, families, and communities in need."

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Others are working to make sure there is a sufficient supply of donated blood and to check in by phone and online with older neighbors.

And José Andrés, the chef behind several DC and New York restaurants, has already been using his World Central Kitchen charity to provide emergency food relief for those in need. On Sunday, he closed all of his restaurant locations temporarily and announced that starting Tuesday, many will become "community kitchens" to feed those in need.

Supporting kids

With schools closed around the country, many individuals, organizations, and companies are stepping up to make sure learning doesn't stop.

Best-selling author Joelle Charbonneau has organized more than two dozen authors who have agreed to do free "virtual author visits" for schools now holding their classes online.

Author and illustrator Mo Willems is inviting kids to watch his weekly "Lunch Doodle" video livestream, encouraging "learners of all ages" to draw and write along with him.

The Cincinnati Zoo announced Sunday that during its COVID-19 closure, it will do a "Home Safari" Facebook live event daily. Each program will introduce animals and include a home activity for kids who are home from school.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is offering a daily "Shark Story Hour" with shark-themed books and shark Q&A sessions. A number of other parks and zoos have also offered virtual tours for kids.

And Scholastic is providing free "Learn and Home" online courses, while several other online education companies are offering free subscriptions to their services.

Supporting grown-ups

Kids aren't the only ones feeling uprooted. Yoga studios and teachers around the country have moved online and are offering free streaming classes to help people relax.

Meanwhile, some grocery stores are establishing special early hours for vulnerable senior citizens to come shop, and some restaurants are offering free meals to senior citizens.

Supporting small businesses

With people staying home, a number of online campaigns have been started to help keep local small businesses afloat.

One encourages people to buy merchandise online from restaurants, bars, bakeries, and coffee shops around the country. Another urges them to buy gift cards now that can be used once the social distancing effort is complete.

Sharing the arts

Last week, Broadway shut down all of its theaters, leaving hundreds of actors, musicians, and other theater professionals without work. Elsewhere, concerts, museums, theatrical productions, and other entertainment events have been canceled.

So the arts community has also moved online. BroadwayWorld is offering a series of free "living room concerts" from top musical theater performers.

Actor Todd Buonopane is posting videos of scenes from theater, recorded in his bathtub.

The Metropolitan Opera will stream a different pre-recorded performance each night, for free.

And Tony-winning actor Laura Benanti has curated an online collection of videos of performances from school theatrical productions that were canceled because of the crisis.

Several museums around the globe have also put their collections online, for free, even as many have closed their doors.

And in Italy and Spain, people have gotten through the day by singalongs as they sit outside on their balconies.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.