As local and state governments develop new policies for a slow, safe reopening, there are many people who are hurting from COVID-19 and the related shutdowns. There are literally thousands of organizations and funds working to provide goods, services and financial support – which is wonderful! But it can be overwhelming to navigate and hard to figure out exactly how to help.
If you’d like to help, but haven’t known quite how to make an impact, read on! We’ve done some research to identify some of the organizations doing amazing work to help us all get through this pandemic crisis.
Support food banks. Before the pandemic, over 35 million people in the US struggled with hunger and reliable access to food. As businesses close and millions find themselves out of work, that number has only grown. Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States, and has launched the COVID-19 Response Fund, dedicated to helping people facing hunger around the country, and supporting their local food banks. They are accepting monetary donations at the national level, or you can use this link to find out how to support the local food bank in your community.
Donate blood. The nation’s blood supply is dangerously low, as tens of thousands of blood drives have been cancelled around the country. There is no evidence that coronavirus is transmissible by blood, and donation sites are following strict sanitation protocols, so if you are healthy and eligible to donate, you can find a location near you through the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, Blood Centers of America and the Advancing Transfusion and Cellular Therapies Worldwide.
If you have recovered from COVID-19, your blood is even more valuable, as researchers are looking into plasma transfusions as a treatment for patients who are seriously ill from the disease. It should go without saying, but if you have even the faintest symptoms of a cold or flu, wait until you’re fully recovered to donate.
Support local homeless shelters. The homeless are particularly vulnerable right now, as it’s nearly impossible to maintain social distance and isolation without a stable, safe home. The Homeless Shelter Directory lets you search for homeless shelters and service organizations in your community, so you can find the best way to support your local population.
Buy a mask, give a mask. With the new guidelines from the CDC, wearing a face mask in public places has become the new normal. While there are many how-to guides online for creating your own mask, a number of companies have implemented buy a mask-give a mask programs, where your purchase will fund the donation of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to medical professionals and other front line workers. Everybody wins! Nineteenth Amendment, Birdwell, BAMGAM, Vida and For Days are among the many companies who have implemented these programs. Protect yourself, while doing some good.
Support the Food and Drink industry. Restaurants and bars have been particularly hard hit by the shutdowns and social distancing efforts. There are some great national funds, including the James Beard Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund, the National Restaurant Association Restaurant Employee Fund and the U.S. Bartenders Guild Bartender Emergency Assistance Program.
For a more local approach, see if your favorite places are selling gift cards, or offering takeout/delivery while their doors are closed. If you opt for delivery, try calling the restaurant directly before opening up your go-to delivery app. Often those apps take a portion of the profits, and restaurants can use every bit of help they can get right now. Make sure to tip your delivery person well, no matter how you order!
Lastly, don’t forget to take care of yourself. As flight attendants (remember them?) always say, you must secure your oxygen mask before assisting others. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or down, try getting some exercise, giving meditation a spin, calling a friend or family member, or even unplugging from the news for a day or two. If you need a little more support, the CDC has provided a great list of resources and guides for managing stress and anxiety. And remember, we’re truly all in this together.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay positive!