As the coronavirus spreads across the U.S., Americans are doing their part by staying home and practicing social distancing where they don’t come within six feet of another person while shopping for groceries, filling up on gas, or doing any other essential task.
But there’s more you can do than just hunkering down and isolating to help the country as it battles the COVID-19 outbreak.
From helping local businesses and those out of work to sourcing equipment for hospitals, here are more than a dozen ways to make a difference during this pandemic.
The accessibility of crowd fundraising platforms such as GoFundMe.com allows everyone from small business owners to even high school students to support coronavirus efforts. There are a variety of existing funds you can contribute to. Here are a sample:
If you’re concerned about whether an account is valid, you can also check out GoFundMe’s landing page that includes campaigns that have been vetted by the company.
“We have seen an immense amount of global support on GoFundMe as communities band together across the globe to fund raise for the most vulnerable,” said Melanie Yost, spokesperson for GoFundMe. “Whether it’s raising money for a service worker’s loss of wages, supporting families during school shutdowns, or medical care for the sick, people are coming together on GoFundMe to take action and help each other.”
Upwork.com has established the Freelancers Relief Fund for those who are self-employed and are experiencing economic hardship or health emergencies because of the COVID-19. The fund will offer up to $1,000 per freelancer household.
Another popular crowdfunding platform is GlobalGiving, which will use your donations toward the following:
Send medical providers and front-line responders to communities in need
Provide masks, ventilators, and other medical supplies to hospitals in need
Provide critical supplies to struggling families and older people in quarantined cities and refugee camps
Deliver food to children who usually rely on school meals
Support hygiene awareness efforts
As some blood drives are cancelled due to workplace and school closures, the Red Cross has put out a call-to-action on it’s website for more donors. Some organizations, such as The Blood Connection, received 8,500 more units than expected from March 1st to the 17th.
If you’re healthy, you can sign up to donate blood, platelets, or AB Elite Plasma. Find a local blood drive near you:
Support children and struggling families
As schools shut down indefinitely for 55 million children across the U.S., many low-income children will have difficulty getting three meals a day. About 12.4 million American children are at risk of food insecurity, and the fallout from the coronavirus could exacerbate that number as more parents lose their jobs.
Feeding America, a nationwide network of 200 food banks, allows you to donate funds by credit card or PayPal to its partners across the U.S.
Another organization that’s helping children is Blessings in a Backpack, which allows families to get grab-and-go meals in cities such as Syracuse, New York and Houston. These efforts are organized by volunteers.
Social distancing means many children are remaining isolated indoors. One way to show a heartfelt gesture is by donating a book. Nonprofit FirstBook.org will use your donation to buy books, ebooks, and hygiene supplies for struggling communities.
Support local businesses and workers
An effortless way to help your local community is to simply get food on-the-go or take-out from a nearby restaurant. Small businesses are struggling at this time due to government-imposed shutdowns, social distancing, and fear of the virus. The safest way to support them is simply ordering food online.
These sites still let you order online from restaurants nearby. Grubhub also has a COVID-19 Community Relief fund, and has suspended commission fees for affected restaurants. UberEats has enacted a similar policy, waiving delivery fees for independent restaurants.
Buy a gift card
You can donate to restaurants all across the U.S. by simply purchasing a gift card.
Through this creative effort by SaveOurFaves, you can send any loved one a gift card from a restaurant in the Bay Area, which has a shelter-in-place order, while simultaneously supporting these restaurants.
OpenTable.com, which lets you normally book physical reservations at restaurants, also has a call-to-action on its website to buy gift cards to support a restaurant’s staff and pay bills.
Pay the help
Sometimes the easiest ways to help out during this coronavirus outbreak is to keep paying people whose services you regularly seek — such as your housekeeper, hairdresser, or landscaper — even though many are unable to work at this time due to the strict quarantine measures.
Find emergency supplies
Offer your skills
If you have any personal protective equipment, such as disposable latex-free gloves or face masks, you can donate your supply to New York City using the following form. Also, check with your local community to see if it’s accepting these types of donations as well.
As a last resort, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is allowing medical staff to accept homemade masks. You can join stores and crafters across the U.S. to help with this effort. JOANN, a crafts and fabric retailer, is asking for help to assemble masks.
“The amazing thing about the crafting community is that, especially in difficult times, they are always looking for ways to help,” said Wade Miquelon, president and CEO of JOANN.
Read more information and tips in our Spending section