The number of people and organizations that need help right now is staggeringly large. The COVID-19 pandemic has everybody and everything reeling, from hourly workers to environmental advocacy groups. A one-two punch of coronavirus-related unknowns and a limping economy is taking its toll, and that’s an understatement.
Which is to say you should be looking to help out those in need, if you’re able. Yes, by all means, spend local. Support your neighborhood restaurants, bottle shops, schools, parks, community centers, and small businesses in any way you can. While you’re in support mode, take a step back and look at the bigger picture and consider providing financial aid to the following groups. Invaluable groups like the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) are working overtime in a dire climate right now to make this current anxious lifestyle as temporary as possible.
One of the most widely-known humanitarian outfits, the American Red Cross is iconic in its effective response to crises. In addition to disaster relief and blood, the organization provides useful medical (think CPR) and social (think babysitting) training and support for military families, one of the main reasons it was established back in 1881. Comprised mostly of volunteers, the Red Cross says that it responds to an emergency every eight minutes. With the pandemic in full swing, it’s fair to say that figure might be even more impressive. Blood donations have become especially important right now, with so many hospitalized (and an increased need due to more people sheltering and fewer people donating). Also, disasters like tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes will continue to happen and responding will be all the tougher with so many other resources stretched thin. It’s a worry-free donation as 90 cents of every dollar you hand over goes directly to the cause.
The Salvation Army is lending a hand to the impoverished as the pandemic unfolds. The poorest Americans are so often hit the hardest when conditions turn sour and we’re seeing it again now, especially in the struggling areas of bigger cities. This goes for the homeless as well as the ballooning working poor (and now non-working poor), stuck in the mud of a virtually stagnant economy right now. The Salvation Army stresses that this community has a much harder time accessing proper hygiene, a life-or-death category when we’re talking about a hyper-contagious virus. It’s easy to donate to your local affiliate (food and clothes as well as cash) and the organization even has a user-friendly monthly donation program you can enroll in.
This one is a gimme given how vulnerable the older segment of our population is at the moment. Meals on Wheels is making sure our elders stay fed and healthy while many of the rest of us are on the sidelines until the dust settles. With member chapters throughout the country, it’s an encompassing network more in-demand than ever, as its COVID-19 Response Fund suggests. In addition to meals, the fund works to promote good nutritional habits and public outreach going forward.
A name you’re almost certainly familiar with, UNICEF spans 190 countries and focuses on children specifically. The sprawling group’s present relief efforts include providing aid to developing nations, equipment for practitioners in need, useful at-home safety information online, and more nuanced guidance, like ways to keep children from getting bullied online as we inevitably increase our screen time while in quarantine. In so many communities, kids become all the more at risk due to neglect, socio-economic conditions, or parents being pulled away for health or work reasons. UNICEF touts a massive international presence in the name of children in need.
Schools have shuttered from coast to coast, requiring a new kind of support for at-home parents. Teachers at public schools would normally get support in the classroom via DonorsChoose but thanks to a new pilot program, they’re passing it on to kids stuck at home. The outfit was launched by a teacher back in 2000, on a quest to bridge the gap between the public and its limited school systems. Since then, it has raised almost $1 billion, helping teachers fulfill their educational missions. The shift to at-home aid since the pandemic broke has already drawn in more than 4,000 teachers and continues to target low-income areas that need the teaching resources the most. A full 100% of donations support the cause.
Tempest is a cool platform that looks to address those dealing with mental health issues, a vast demographic it’s worth adding. The group offers free virtual support meetings for all types as well as more specific resources for people battling illnesses like depression or alcoholism (especially through its sister organization, The Temper). So many people battling all kinds of demons depend on group therapy sessions to get by and those physical gatherings are no longer occurring. By all means, check in with your neighbors, especially the ones flirting with relapses or really struggling with isolation, but also consider shelling out some dough for a helpful outlet such as this.
The restaurant realm is being rattled severely by the pandemic. Already, hundreds of thousands of people have been laid off and scores of eateries will likely never come back to life. The James Beard Foundation has set up a noble donation pot for the cause, bringing some relief to the food and beverage arena you so desperately miss right now. Most of the money goes where it should, meaning the smaller to mid-sized restaurants that simply don’t have the deep pockets to ride this thing out.
This seems trivial compared to helping fellow humans but we need wildernesses to come back to when all is said and done. Advocacy groups all over are struggling now with so many folks simply unable to donate as they normally would. Meanwhile, politicians continue to chip away at some of our most beloved and pristine places, aware that we’re more than distracted right now. The NRDC has done great work for years and remains a reliable environmental watchdog and steward during a pandemic that has so many of its colleagues preoccupied.
For a more exhaustive look at the many charities available out there, check out a service like Charity Navigator.
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