How can one help without seeming patronizing?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Don’t make your compassion into a thing! Don’t go around saying, “Here is my compassion” or “I am humbler than you!” like some Buddhists from other schools do. Do what is in front of your nose and stay cool as you do it! Act in the moment that compassion is there. If you let go as soon as the task is finished, then you always have clean hands. Then you are like the wind that simply blows the dust out the window; then, when the window is closed, the room is warm again.

If you make a big deal out of compassion, it becomes sticky. You act and do what you can because humans are basically nice. Afterwards, forget about it and move on happily.
There is a nice story about this: Two monks from a wild sect, who were not allowed to have anything to do with women, came to a river which a lady also wanted to cross. One of the monks carried her across, set her down on the other side, and went on. The other monk swallowed his tonsils five times and was completely mixed up. After three days, he finally managed to ask, “How could you touch her?” The first monk replied, “I set her down already, but you are still carrying her!”
It is mentally healthy to act in the moment. A truly right action is like drawing on water: Before there was nothing; afterwards there is nothing; and in the moment everything fits! There is nothing sticky—no expectations, no fears, no yesterday or tomorrow. That is the level of the Diamond Way, the level of Mahamudra.