As humans, connection and camaraderie with others is paramount. During this period of social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19, many people are feeling the effects of being disconnected from their friends, neighbors, and greater community.

Fortunately, gathering and enjoying life with others is not impossible during the current situation—it simply requires a bit of unconventional thinking. Around the world, people are generating methods and ideas for staying connected to one another during the pandemic, and you may find some of them work within your neighborhood or community, as well.

Digital and Distance Activities for Connection

For the time being, hanging out with others digitally has become the temporary norm. Virtual interactions may not provide the emotional salience of in-person interactions, but they can help bridge the gap and provide a safe way to continue building relationships with your community of loved ones. Here are a few ideas for staying connected both virtually and from afar while social distancing:

1. Online Storytime for Kids

Libraries are one of the best resources for children’s activities in a given community, and many have stepped up to continue offering their services. Check with your local library or the school librarians in your district to see if they’re offering any virtual storytimes for kids that take place in real time. Your kids will enjoy interacting with others and feeling like part of a group again.

2. Host a Virtual Get-Together

Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts all enable you to gather with others in a virtual environment. You can host a book club, cocktail party, or coffee date with other parents or friends, which provides an important social outlet for everyone involved. Additionally, online gaming sites, such as Jackbox Games, give you a platform for incorporating fun party games into your gathering.

3. Go on a ‘Bear Hunt’

If your children are familiar with the book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” they may enjoy this scavenger-style game that’s suitable for social distancing. Across the country, many people are putting teddy bears or other stuffed animals in their windows, on their porches, or out in their yards. If enough people in your neighborhood participate, kids can then go on a “teddy bear hunt” by trying to spot these fluffy toys while out on your daily walk.

4. Donate to Food Pantries

Food pantries across the nation are experiencing an influx of people in need of food, beverages, and other items to sustain their family during this time, which makes contributing a perfect way to connect with and care for your community. Find out what products are accepted by your local food bank or especially in demand right now. If you can’t donate goods or money, ask if they need additional volunteers to clean, package, organize, and/or distribute items.

5. Get Take Out Together

If you can, supporting local restaurants and coffee shops is important to help sustain them through this period of hardship. You can bolster the sense of community further by organizing a “Take Out Day,” where you encourage everyone in your town or neighborhood to get a meal from their favorite dining establishment. Planning in advance also gives the restaurants an opportunity to prepare for a higher volume of take-out orders.

6. Drive-by Birthday Parties

People in various towns are putting together drive-by parades for birthdays, graduations and individual celebrations, or to spread cheer to people living in senior communities or staying at hospitals. You can use community pages or your private social networks to let others know someone’s birthday is coming up and pick a time of day when they can drive by with signs, honk their horns, and even leave flowers, balloons, or gifts on the porch.

7. Enjoy an Evening Concert

One element many communities are sorely missing at the time is performing arts. However, there are still ways for people to enjoy music collectively. Stories came out of Italy of people singing together from their porches. If you can play an instrument, you also could consider playing it from your deck or veranda. Hook up to speakers so people walking by can enjoy a simple evening concert. If you think it would work in your neighborhood, you might also consider doing an outdoor dance party with everyone joining from their yards or on the sidewalk. Now is the time to take advantage of less traffic and disturbance.

8. Try Random Acts of Kindness

Random acts of kindness are always appropriate, but they can play an especially important role during times when you feel socially disconnected. Leave a care package at your neighbor or friend’s house, write letters to residents at senior living facilities or those who are housebound, offer to do yard work for someone who is under the weather, or find other ways to care for your neighbors.

Using Social Network for Connection

Social media and community pages are effective ways to organize, promote, and communicate with your neighbors and friends about any communal events, activities, or initiatives you’re working on or know about. If you prefer using a more private, secure platform, Go2s is a free app you can download on your mobile devices and desktop as an alternative for connecting with your trusted social circle.