Giving Back to Communities During COVID-19

Since being under the shelter-in-place order in NYC, every night at 7 pm like clock-work, the sounds of cheers and clapping and waves of camaraderie amongst neighbors who have never met, erupts from the windows and terraces of my neighborhood on the Upper East Side.  Together our community is coming together, like never before, to support doctors, nurses, grocery works, delivery people, policemen, firemen and all essential workers to remind them how grateful we are for the work they do.

Coronavirus has impacted life as we know it, with most aspects of everyday life having been touched by the pandemic. Individuals, families and entire communities have been affected as a result. We’ve put together a few ideas for you to get involved in giving back safely, in whatever capacity you are able to do so, without putting your health at risk. Whether it be your time, money, expertise or something else, those receiving your gifts will be so thankful.

Even the impact of a simple “thank you” is limitless for someone who is overworked and risking their own health for the betterment of our community.

Supporting Our Community Heroes:

Giving back can have several benefits for the giver, including an improved sense of one’s wellbeing, improved mood, and increased feelings of happiness. It can give one a sense of making a difference by helping others who cannot help themselves and in turn can cultivate a sense of purpose.

Monetary Donations:

Donating money may not satisfy all of your drive to help, but it’s one of the safest ways to contribute, especially since many people and organizations are weary of accepting food or goods from unknown sources. Some tips for deciding on a charity to donate to include checking the charity’s validity. There are many scams occurring at this time with pop up Go Fund Me’s and Venmo accounts, unfortunately, so we suggest going straight to a charity’s website to donate, and to avoid donating to anyone who uses pressure tactics or anything that looks suspicious.

A few trusted organizations to consider donating to include: 

  • One Fair Wage Fund – Advancing policy, driving industry change, & shifting the narrative to ensure that all workers in America are paid at least minimum wage from their employers, OFW provides cash assistance to tipped workers (restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers, & more) who need the money they aren’t getting to survive while many of their places of employment are closed or restricted during the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • No Kid Hungry –  Millions of vulnerable children are losing the healthy meals they depend on as the coronavirus closes schools nationwide.
  • NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund – Created to aid nonprofit service providers struggling with the health and economic effects of the coronavirus, this fund will give grants and loans to NYC-based nonprofits that are trying to meet the new and urgent needs that are hitting the city. Priority is given to nonprofits addressing essential healthcare and food insecurity as well as arts and culture, because New York is the cultural capital of the nation. Your gift will help nonprofits with securing protective equipment, cleaning supplies, technological assistance, support for financial losses, and more.
  • The Humane Society of the US – Help keep people and pets together. Pet owners hit hardest by COVID-19 will soon be facing immense financial barriers to veterinary access and other animal care services. Donations will go towards providing emergency veterinarian care, food and other supplies that pet owners on the brink of poverty cannot afford to provide their pets at this time.

Time Donations:

Your time is invaluable, and donating it to help others in need can have an important impact on both the giver and receiver, but the challenge during COVID-19 is to donate your time safely while still having a positive impact.

  • Foster a pet! Contact a local animal rescue to foster a pet to help mitigate the need for animal shelter workers and volunteers. Furry friends can also help lessen feelings of loneliness, increase your happiness and improve the animals quality of life, too.
  • If you feel comfortable doing so and have proper protective gear, offer to go grocery shopping or pick up medications and other essential items for your at-risk neighbor, or a family who is quarantined and leave the items at their door so as not to spread germs.
  • Volunteer Virtually! Visit www.volunteermatch.org/virtual-volunteering to find ways to give back to organizations that need additional help during COVID-19, whether it be by sharing your expertise, sewing masks or chatting with homebound seniors who are looking for social interaction during social distancing, you can find a way to give back from home.

Donate Goods:

Others can benefit from gently used items that you no longer find use for in your home, such as clothing, books, games, etc. You may even have a necessary skill, such sewing or a knack for creativity, that can be used to craft items that are in high demand! Whatever it may be, donating your gently worn sweaters, or creating something with love and hope can go a very long way for those who receive your donations.

  • If you’re not sure where to start, look locally. Many community non-profits have been affected and are in need of supplies and support. Giving locally can be a powerful way to lend a hand and support the neighborhoods and communities where you live. You can do a google search for local nonprofits in your town or county to see what supplies they may need.
  • If you have a skill, such as sewing, consider sewing masks for a local healthcare facility or for those in your community. Colleagues can pitch in for the cost of supplies and choose a facility to donate them to. Another item recently being created are headbands with buttons on the side, where the elastic of the mask would sit instead of one’s ears, which when worn for several hours can become irritating. You can find CDC guidance for homemade masks here, and a DIY tutorial on headbands here.
  • Clean out your closet and gather gently used or unworn clothing and shoes that someone else can benefit from. Some organizations have reduced the number of stores accepting clothing, but you can do an internet search to find some who accept donations near you.

Support Small Business:

  • Choose a hospital, police precinct or other facility where essential workers are tirelessly working to fight COVID-19 and partner with a local food establishment who can deliver food to them. Set up a way to collect donations from colleagues, friends & family (think Venmo or Paypal) to help pay for meals for these essential employees. It’s a win for those you feed, it’s a win for you and it’s a win for small business!
  • Many small businesses have made gift cards available for purchase to be used when shelter-in-place and other restrictions are removed. Making gift card purchases can help small business during this time.

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