How to Volunteer & Help Others During Coronavirus

Bagged meals

Getty Bagged meals to be distributed to children in Alexandria, Virginia, on March 16, 2020.

In the last few weeks, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many people in the United States. For many Americans, it’s a period of financial insecurity and there are a lot of unknowns with the situation. Some people are out of work without pay for an indeterminate amount of time, and many are struggling to get by.

The coronavirus pandemic has also brought people together, not physically, but has led to many touching moments and stories of people helping their neighbors and complete strangers. People who are stuck at home and social distancing may be wondering how they can help others through this trying time.

There are many ways to volunteer and help out, whether financially, with food or other goods, or even just with time and support. Here is a series of ideas on volunteering and helping others during the coronavirus:

Local NGOs and Free Clinics

People who are seeking to donate financially to organizations are encouraged by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to look for community foundations or local NGOs for a specific COVID-19 response fund. There is also a locator of accredited community foundations for the U.S. through the Council on Foundations website.

There are a lot of different local organizations that could benefit from support during this time, including the areas of housing and homelessness, healthcare, nutrition and food support, mental health and care for seniors.

There is a network of Free and Charitable Clinics in the U.S., community-based healthcare providers in 1,400 different locations across the U.S. Nicole Lamoureux, the President and CEO of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, said in an interview that the organization is “on the front lines providing access to health care and battling Covid-19 for over 2 million patients in communities throughout the U.S. In the face of this pandemic, our member organizations are challenged with dwindling resources and limited access to personal protective equipment for their staff and volunteers.”

Local Businesses

People can also support local businesses, such as restaurants and the entertainment sector. Many restaurants have closed but others have switched to delivery and takeout. Down Home Seattle has been created to list all the local businesses that have specials, takeout or delivery options during COVID-19.

Those who aren’t interested in takeout but wish to support these local businesses can often buy gift cards to keep the restaurant afloat. People can look for their favorite businesses online and see if they can support them during this time.

Food Banks

For people who don’t have the flexibility to donate financially, there are a lot of other ways to help. Food banks are especially feeling the impact of coronavirus and are struggling to keep their shelves stocked. Many food banks are still looking for donations, and some are looking for emergency volunteers to help open new pantries or stock the warehouse.

Donate Blood

The American Red Cross has had to cancel blood drives due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but blood donations remain extremely important. On March 18, the U.S. Surgeon General reminded people of the importance of donating blood and said that people can continue to give blood.

Reach Out to Family & Friends

In these trying times, people should look also to their circle of family and friends. Some people may be hesitant to ask for help, but could use support. This can be either emotional support in the form of social interaction, and others might be stuck at home and in need of food deliveries. Some might be finding it difficult to balance their work online and keeping their kids entertained at home.

Start a Local “Caremongering” Movement

A movement that started in Canada is gaining popularity during the coronavirus outbreak. The founders of the caremongering movement told the BBC that “Scaremongering is a big problem. We wanted to switch that around and get people to connect on a positive level, to connect with each other.” There are many Caremongering Facebook groups that have popped up with the goal of helping others in a specific neighborhood. The Caremongering-TO group for Toronto now has over 16,000 members.

Posts will be labeled with either #iso (in search of) for those who need some sort of help, or #offer posts for people offering their help. There are posts about people cooking meals for others, some have offered grocery store gift cards to people in need and more. A common offer is for people to go to the supermarket on behalf of others who are unable to or at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Americans looking to help others can start their own group in their local community and give direct help to others in need.

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