How To Help During the Coronavirus Pandemic

You don't have to be a millionaire to help out. In most cases, you don't even have to leave your house.
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There are many ways to offer support to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but it's overwhelming knowing where to start. Start here: Stay inside. It's the best way to prevent the virus from spreading. Then start giving back in whatever way you can. We've compiled a list of resources that will help you narrow your focus, lend a helping hand, and hopefully begin to feel a bit better about the world.

1. Donate to one of the dozens of organizations working to keep people fed and safe

During a crisis, it's hard to know where to focus your efforts—but whichever organization you choose, you'll be helping someone. To learn more about the various groups needing donations, visit Charity Navigator's Coronavirus page or this excellent free roundup by the Washington Post. These are four of our favorite options:

  • CDC Foundation: The nonprofit that supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is collecting donations that will provide for local and state health departments.
  • No Kid Hungry: This organization is supporting children dealing with food insecurity due to school closures.

2. Donate to a food bank

One in 9 Americans deals with food insecurity, and the virus is only exacerbating things. You can give money to organizations like Feeding America, which supports food banks around the country. Donating directly to your local food bank is a fantastic way to keep your own community fed, too. Find locations near you on Feeding America's website, but remember to heed the laws of social distancing. If you're cleared to donate food directly, keep things clean by wearing gloves and disinfecting. All those pantry essentials we've been going on about? Those long-lasting ingredients are always needed at food banks.

3. Safely support local small businesses

Everyone has their favorite around-the-corner coffee shop, indie bookstore, and been-there-forever restaurant. These places will be hit hard by the pandemic, but you can support them by continuing to shop. Many local restaurants are still preparing food for takeout or delivery, so you can order in to keep the income flower. Uber has waived delivery fees for all local restaurants to make ordering in even easier. For more food delivery options, check out DoorDash, Seamless, and Goldbelly, all of which bring your favorite meals to your door—sometimes even from across the country! If you need another reason to order food online, Tuesday, March 24 is The Great American Takeout day.

Another great way to support restaurants is to purchase gift cards. Buy them now, give them out as gifts later, and keep restaurants afloat during these tough times. Some restaurants are also offering dining bonds, which work like savings bonds—you purchase a bond now to be used at a later date. For more information, visit supportrestaurants.org.

Gift cards apply to non-restaurant commerce as well. Snag them for yourself and all your friends from clothing stores, local bookstores, and any other small businesses that might be hurting currently. Better yet, order books for your social-distancing time directly from independent bookstores instead of the big box stores. Win-win!

4. Volunteer to grocery shop for the elderly and at-risk populations

Ask around in your local community; you might have many high-risk neighbors that are in need of help. Offer to assist them by getting them their groceries. Just ensure that you're doing so in a safe, healthy way. You can also volunteer with Meals on Wheels, which provides a warm meal to seniors in need. Many of the recipients are women, minorities, veterans, or people living in poverty; more than 75 percent of them are over 75 years old. If you can't offer your time, you can donate money to Meals on Wheels.

5. Avoid buying WIC-labeled foods and products if you don't need them

WIC refers to women, infants, and children, and it's specifically designated for low-income women and children. If you buy goods labeled WIC, you're taking supplies away from those in need. So leave those on the shelf and buy a different brand instead.

6. Donate blood

Social distancing has caused many important blood drives to be canceled, but there's still a great need nationwide for blood donations. Help out by making an individual appointment with the American Red Cross. There's no evidence of virus transmission through blood, but you should still wait to donate if you've traveled in the past 28 days.

7. Adopt a pet from a shelter

Humane societies and other animal shelters will also be affected by the coronavirus pandemic. If you have the means, consider adopting a new furry friend from your local shelter. It will help prevent shelters from becoming overcrowded, and you get a furry friend to keep you comfort in the process! Your new cuddle buddy will make the time at home go by much faster. To foster a pet, reach out to your local animal shelter or humane society.

8. Support those working at hospitals

Nurses, doctors, and other first responders are working around the clock to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Their dedication means they have less time for themselves. Slice, the independent pizzeria delivery service, is sending pies to those selfless health care workers so they don't go hungry. You can donate to the company's nonprofit, Slice Out Hunger, to help feed doctors and nurses.

You can also help those on the front lines by donating little luxuries like lotion and shampoo. It may sound frivolous, but around-the-clock shifts can cause workers to suffer from cracked skin due to constant hand washing and painful scalps from lack of hair washing. For more information on how to help, reach out to hospitalbeautydonations@gmail.com.