5 ways to join #GivingTuesdayNow from home

#GivingTuesday came early this year, to be celebrated on May 5. By Mayra Cuevas and Bethany Hines, CNN

(CNN) -- #GivingTuesday came early this year, to be celebrated on May 5. The annual day of giving has grown into an emergency global response to the coronavirus pandemic. The event usually happens on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, but because of the unprecedented need, it was moved up and renamed #GivingTuesdayNow.

A traditional #GivingTuesday event is still scheduled for December 1, 2020.

Here are five ways to participate while practicing social distancing.

Become a pen pal

Senior and nursing homes across the country are on lockdown to protect their vulnerable residents. Help combat loneliness and isolation by becoming a pen pal or creating a pen pal program in your community. It can be a great way for kids to practice their handwriting and make a new friend.

"Our campus has been quarantined going on eight weeks and it is very confusing for many of our residents," said Becca McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Marbridge Foundation in Manchaca, Texas, a senior community that launched a successful pen pal program. "When they get these letters explaining what is going on outside and how families are making it fun, what things they are baking, conversations they are having, the residents feel appreciated and the fear is eliminated. This has really eased a lot of anxiety for them."

Other pen pal programs around the country include Village Concepts in Auburn, Washington; the Benedictine Living Community of St. Peter, Minnesota; Heartis Senior Living in Webster, Texas; and the United Way of Hernando County in Florida.

Volunteer your time and talents (from home)

Non-profits and community organizations are understaffed or operating on shoestring budgets during the pandemic. Organizations such as VolunteerMatch and Points of Light offer hundreds of remote volunteer opportunities in areas like health and wellness, education, the environment and community building. Volunteers can search by opportunity type, issue and location. All you need in order to help make a difference is an internet connection.

Deliver a meal

Nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels face a significant increase in demand for services during the pandemic. The most common volunteer job is meal delivery to homebound seniors. Volunteers can set their own schedule.

You can also help in your community by organizing a meal train for neighbors who are elderly, disabled or homebound. You can use free online meal-sharing calendars such as Meal Train, Take Them A Meal and CareCalendar.

Foster a pet

Pets are helping many people get through long periods of isolation during the pandemic. The #StayHomeAndFoster campaign is encouraging animal lovers everywhere to host a cat or dog for 2 to 6 weeks. Many shelters are closed during the pandemic, slowing down adoptions and putting animals at risk of euthanasia. Fostering frees up spaces so shelters can take in more animals. Sites such as Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet.com have databases of pets that need homes in your area. American Humane launched a "Feed the Hungry" fund to provide basic supplies for animals, like food, kitty litter and medical supplies.

Make a donation

Many non-profits are struggling to keep up with the urgent need created by the coronavirus pandemic. CNN's Impact Your World has compiled a list of vetted charities helping in the United States and around the world. Our Public Good campaign enables you to direct your donations to causes you are passionate about and increase the impact of your giving by benefiting multiple charities with one donation. Click here for CNN's "Guide to helping and getting help during the coronavirus crisis."

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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