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How to Assist Others During the Coronavirus Crisis

If you’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. It helps during a stressful time like this to take good care of yourself. It’s spring, so going for a walk — at a safe distance from others, of course — and enjoying the warming weather can do wonders for the psyche. Being kind and helping others also can make you feel better. There are many ways to do that, even from the comfort and safety of your own home. Here are some ideas and groups to contact to offer your assistance or donations.
Help Neighbors

Older adults, and anyone who lives alone or is more vulnerable to the virus, may benefit from a social phone call, text message or email. If you do visit in person or offer to pick up groceries or supplies, make sure it’s done from a safe distance following CDC guidelines and the exterior packaging of any groceries and bags are wiped down with a sanitizing wipe that contains at least 60% alcohol before delivering them on a porch, in a hall outside a door or other area outside the home. Offering to walk a neighbor’s dog or pick up pet supplies is another great way to help.

Donate Blood

The American Red Cross says there’s a severe blood shortage because many blood drives were cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. You can still safely donate blood at local blood donation centers and some hospitals by doing a search by zip code on the group’s Blood Services page or by calling 800-GIVE-BLOOD.
Danny Broe Architect
Support Local Businesses

With many local retail stores closed or on limited hours, small businesses in your community are likely hurting. There are things you can do to support them, via online or phone purchases of products or meals, and ordering carryout or delivery.

Some restaurants that don’t normally deliver may have changed their policy during the outbreak, so it’s worth checking. Buying a gift card or gift certificate provides the business with instant cash. If you order a takeout meal and are not quarantined, be sure to practice safe distancing when picking up the food; if quarantined, make arrangements with the restaurant or third-party delivery service for contact-free delivery.

Help Health Workers Get Protective Gear

You’ve likely heard about the shortage of personal protective gear used by health care workers and perhaps are wondering how you can help. A group of health care workers is using the social media hashtag #GetUsPPE to acquire much-needed personal protection equipment such as N95 respirators, surgical masks, protective goggles, nitrite non-powdered gloves, face shields and disinfectant wipes. The group describes its needs and lists donation sites by state or region. It’s also accepting online donations through its PPE Fund that will be used to purchase and transport PPE items.
Volunteer in Your Community

If it’s possible and safe for you to leave your house, consider helping groups like Meals on Wheels deliver food to those who are unable to leave their homes.

Animal lovers might be tempted to volunteer to walk shelter pets or horses at public riding stables, but keep in mind those facilities may be closed to the public. The Humane Society of the United States recommends checking with your local shelter or rescue to see how you can help. It may be accepting donated supplies, but it’s best to call first.

It even recommends adopting a pet if you can, with special arrangements that minimize contact with personnel. Best Friends Animal Society says there’s likely to be a surge of pets entering shelters as owners are unable to care for them, so now is the time to connect with local shelters to offer your support.
Julie Sheer
A Hospital Corpsman prescreens Marines for novel coronavirus on March 23. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Rachel K. Young-Porter

Make Monetary Contributions

If you’re able to make donations at this time, these groups are accepting contributions to help communities fight the COVID-19 pandemic:

American Red Cross. In addition to taking blood donations, the group is accepting monetary donations. You can choose “Coronavirus Outbreak” on its online donation page. Info

Catholic Charities. The group’s local agencies are providing access to food and basic needs for those affected by the virus and are seeking funds to maintain the safety of their workers. Info

CDC Foundation. This independent nonprofit was created by Congress to provide philanthropic and private-sector resources to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The foundation’s Combat Coronavirus crowdfunding campaign will use funds to deploy emergency staffing at the state and local level, fund and deliver food and medical supplies for quarantined and isolated people and develop prevention and awareness campaigns. Info

Center for Disaster Philanthropy. This nonprofit focuses its donations on disaster-related giving in response to domestic and international events. Its COVID-19 Response Fund will use funds to support preparedness, containment, response and recovery activities for those affected and for crisis responders. Info

Direct Relief. This group is coordinating with authorities and nonprofits in the U.S. and abroad to provide personal protective equipment and other medical essentials for health workers responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Donations will help them deliver these much-needed supplies. Info
Julie Sheer
A Naval facilities driver delivers pallets during a supply load to the hospital ship Mercy at Naval Base San Diego on March 21. U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Mike Jones

GoFundMe. The crowdfunding platform has numerous campaigns devoted to raising funds for those affected by the virus. Info

Meals on Wheels. This group provides meals and social needs for home-bound seniors, who are most at risk during the current virus outbreak. The group has set up a COVID-19 Response Fund to help their local programs meet increased demand for meals. Donations will be used for food, transportation and personnel costs. Info

No Kid Hungry. This campaign from the nonprofit Share Our Strength helps low-income families learn to shop and cook healthier. Support during the virus crisis will help them work with government to support children in need, provide grants to food banks and community groups and ensure that families will get meals while schools are closed. Info

Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation. This nonprofit created by and for restaurant workers addresses quality-of-life issues that affect those who work in the restaurant industry, which has been especially hard-hit during the pandemic. The group has partnered with the Southern Smoke Foundation to set up a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to assist those in the food and beverage community. Funds will be used for food, rental assistance, mental health, legal aid, financial counseling and other immediate needs. Info

Team Rubicon. This nonprofit group that utilizes military veterans and other volunteers during disasters is serving and transporting food, water and supplies across the U.S. during the novel coronavirus crisis. Donations will help their responders meet the needs of vulnerable communities during the outbreak. Info

Salvation Army. The group is distributing pre-packaged meals and food bags and providing shelter for the homeless. Some local Salvation Army groups are taking donations of nonperishable canned goods, baby supplies, hand sanitizer, wipes and paper products. Call 800-SAL-ARMY to see if there’s a local chapter in your area. Info

United Way. The group’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund is helping local chapters respond and support their 211 network, a phone information resource used during crises. Calling the 211 number connects people with disaster, food, housing, utility and healthcare resources. Info

These are just some of the groups providing assistance to victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Use caution when donating money to groups. Charity Navigator evaluates and rates charitable groups, and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance also offers guidance. In addition, Charity Navigator has a list of highly-rated charities that have created funds to support communities around the world affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak.