Now, more than ever before, it is easy to feel helpless.
Life as we know it has been ravaged by something much larger and much more powerful than we are. Our entire world has crumbled under the weight of COVID-19. We watch essential workers and medical professionals struggle beneath this new and frightening burden, but for some of us, staying home to flatten the curve is all that we’ve been instructed to do.
If you are like me and are aching to do something, it can feel overwhelming at first. There are so many vulnerable populations to protect that it might be hard to know where to turn to help. I’ve compiled a list of 15 organizations that need you more than ever right now—be that through money, resources or simply time—so that you can find one that aligns with your passions and make that difference. Every little thing that one person does can bring us closer to beating this virus and restoring some normalcy to our lives.
Organizations That Need Monetary Donations
One of the side effects of the pandemic has been an economic crisis which has put many in a place of financial insecurity. There are plenty of ways to help that don’t require writing a check—however, if you have the financial means, donating to these organizations allows a hands-off, contact-free approach to giving that still makes an enormous impact.
If you can’t personally donate, sharing a donation page that means a lot to you to social media is also an excellent way to not only raise awareness about the breadth of the issue, but to rally support from those who do have the capability to offer monetary support right now. After just 41 days, a GoFundMe to support small businesses has raised nearly $2,400,000. People are desperate to do something, so spreading the word can be just as meaningful as donating yourself.
1. Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a non-profit organization that provides mobile food delivery to populations who can not get access to groceries themselves. Typically, 79 percent of their clients are elderly. As COVID-19 disproportionately affects the elderly populations, more and more people have been relying on Meals on Wheels’s services in order to eat. Volunteers have been hard to come by with stay-at-home orders and self-quarantines, which has made it even more difficult for MOW to fulfill their mission.
2. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
ABC News writes that calls to the United States Suicide Prevention Lifeline have increased by 891 percent (compared to numbers documented in March of 2019). A communal sense of fear and hopelessness, an emphasis on isolation that breeds loneliness and economic insecurities have caused the mental health of many individuals to rapidly decline.
3. World Health Organization
If you’re up to date on current events, chances are, you’ve been hearing a lot about the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO states that their role is “to direct international health within the United Nations’ system and to lead partners in global health responses.” It has established a group of experts to speed up vaccine development and therapies for the virus; currently, WHO is on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis and is working with some of the top medical professionals worldwide to find solutions. Even if you don’t have an epidemiology degree, they could use your help.
4. RIP Medical Debt
The Commonwealth Fund reports that 79 million Americans have trouble paying medical bills or struggle with medical debt. Those numbers aren’t encouraging in a time where medical help is more necessary than ever, and many are losing their jobs and their livelihoods. RIP Medical Debt allows donors to help forgive medical debt so that everyone can access the life-saving care that they need.
5. Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Since COVID-19 originated in China, many people are using the emergence of the virus to justify acts of racism and xenophobia. The Hill’s Alexandra Kelley reports that hate crimes against Asian Americans have averaged at about 100 a day since the emergence of the pandemic in the United States. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund was established to protect and promote the civil rights of Asian Americans, and is especially essential at a time when those liberties are under a horrific, vile and ridiculously unjustified attack.
6. Local Businesses
It’s no secret that local businesses are struggling right now; with the majority of the population staying home to reduce the spread of the virus, there is little to no traction at restaurants, shops and other small businesses. Go to the websites and social media pages of your favorite places from “before”—many are offering curbside pickup, free delivery and online orders to keep you safe. If you’re looking to delve deeper into small business support, initiatives have popped up all over the country to help give aid in creative ways; for example, Rally for Restaurants encourages buying gift cards for your favorite restaurants that can be used when the COVID-19 crisis is slowed, and there is even a GoFundMe created specifically for small business relief. There are countless ways that you can help, even if you aren’t comfortable ordering takeout at this time.
An increase in the number of people under hospital care for COVID-19 treatment and related complications has led to some hospitals being understaffed and under equipped. If you want to keep your medical contributions to your own community, many hospitals are taking donations directly to their own funds. Find the website of the hospital near you— here is where you can donate to help fund SLU Hospitals.
International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee responds to major humanitarian crises worldwide, and has been a massive relief presence during COVID-19. Their aid ranges across a number of initiatives, from providing New Yorkers in need with free meals to providing personal protective equipment to struggling clinics in Syria.
Prevent Child Abuse America
According to the New York Times, “With Coronavirus, We Could Be Facing a Child Abuse Epidemic,” and chances are, they’re entirely correct. Dr. Nina Agrawal, a child abuse pediatrician, explains that, “When there is household dysfunction—domestic violence, parental substance abuse or a mental disorder—the risk of child abuse goes up, and there’s reason to believe all of these things will increase during this pandemic.” Not only are stress and anger running high, creating familial tensions and worsening pre-existing abuse scenarios, children are living at home full time with no school to escape to. A children’s hospital in Fort Worth, Texas reported a rising number of patients being admitted due to injuries sustained from suspected child abuse. Prevent Child Abuse America has been one of the leading charities that advocates for and protects children who have fallen victim to abusive home lives.
Organizations That Need Resource Donations
Even if you don’t happen to have extra hazmat suits stuffed in your closet, here are some organizations that could use items that you’re much more likely to have in supply.
1. American Red Cross
Large blood drives have been cancelled to aid in social distancing measures, which means the American Red Cross is short on blood supply. Though life has slowed down for many of us, the demand for blood certainly has not. The American Red Cross’s website encourages people to keep their existing appointments to donate and urges anyone who is healthy to make a new appointment to donate. Even if there is a stay-at-home order in your area, you are able to donate blood. Make your appointment today by visiting the American Red Cross website.
2. Feeding America
BBC News reports that the U.S. economy is shrinking at the fastest rate since the recession of 2008. With economic insecurity comes food instability. School closures have only worsened the issue, crippling families who rely on the district for up to two nutritious meals a day for their children. Feeding America is working to provide relief, but is facing pressure due to an increased reliance on their services. You can donate a variety of non-perishable items, or even learn how to host a virtual food drive through your friends and family or your organization.
3. Deaconess Foundation
If you happen to have an excess of medical masks, Deaconess has created a search engine to help you find where to donate them. Simply go to this website, type in the details of your area and read through a number of listings of nursing homes, hospitals, pharmacies and other facilities that need masks to safely serve your community. Some of these listings will even take homemade masks; maximize your down time on quarantine and learn how to make some on the CDC’s webpage.
Organizations That Need Your Time and Kindness
It might be difficult to add anything to your plate with finals looming, but with so many summer internships cancelled and travel restrictions still in place, you might find yourself with a lot of extra time in the coming weeks. If so, check out these great ways to spread a little love and joy—no PPE supply or hefty paycheck necessary.
DOROT is an organization that partners members of younger generations with members of older generations to enhance social connection and decrease loneliness. There are a number of ways that you can get involved with this incredible cause. You can even call from the comfort of your home to check in on and connect with older adults.
2. Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude has partnered with Starbucks to send letters, care packages and donations to essential health workers that are continuing to fight tirelessly through COVID-19. You can contribute to the cause in many ways, from writing letters, to making bracelets, to purchasing on Amazon Smile (which donates 0.5 percent of your every purchase to the project).
3. The Humane Society
As families face financial crises due to COVID-19 related economic pitfalls and a stalling job market, it may be hard for them to continue to care for their pets. Many shelters have faced an influx in the numbers of animals being released to their care. If you’re stuck at home with plenty of time on your hands, now might be the perfect time to adopt a furry friend, bringing some joy into your life and theirs. And, of course, they take monetary and resource donations if you are unable to commit to a pet at this time.