The coronavirus pandemic is affecting several aspects of our daily lives, but one silver lining is that it is causing people to look out for one another.
If you’re looking for ways to help, here are some things you can do.
5 Ways You Can Help Others
Before we begin, a note of caution: No matter how badly you want to help, you should always endeavor to follow any public health protocols that have been put in place.
As you may know, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is promoting the practice of “social distancing.” In your community, local officials may have instituted other policies you need to follow as well.
The point is that you can only really help others if you help yourself and avoid getting sick by following safety guidelines.
With that being said, here are five ways you can assist your community during the coronavirus pandemic:
1. Find Reputable Charities to Give to Online
During times like these, many people look to help through charitable giving, but COVID-19 has not made it easy.
“One of the issues we face is that a lot of charities we trust and believe in have actually suspended their operations [due to the coronavirus pandemic] and it makes it tougher,” says money expert Clark Howard, who is heavily involved with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and others.
Nonetheless, we’ve found some ongoing efforts you may want to consider giving to:
- COVID-19 Response Fund: This is an effort from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, which has a 4-star Charity Navigator rating
- COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund: This is a collaboration between the UN Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation
- CDC Foundation: The health agency’s charitable foundation has activated its emergency response fund to provide support at this time
- Direct Relief: This organization is coordinating with authorities to provide protective equipment to health workers
- Meals on Wheels: The food delivery service is currently feeding seniors and other vulnerable groups. They allow you to make a one-time or monthly contribution on their website
- Save the Children: This group is focused on aiding children and families who may have been separated during quarantine
If you are looking for other organizations to donate to, here are some guidelines on how to choose a reputable charity as well as a list of watchdog groups that vet them.
2. Help the People in Your Circle
No matter how big your heart is — as we mentioned earlier — at this time you’ll want to limit direct contact with strangers as much as you can.
If you want to help, start with the people you know.
Look to give assistance to those that you’re familiar with and who are familiar with you. If you include friends, family, neighbors, etc., that list may be bigger than you think.
The CDC is asking that you consider different ways of having food brought home “through family, social, or commercial networks.”
One of the things you can do is order food for them through grocery delivery services.
3. Avoid Scams
Before you pay for any sort of delivery to someone, make sure you look out for scams — and make sure you tell others about them as well.
The U.S. Secret Service says you should be particularly on guard against entities you haven’t heard of that promise to deliver something for you.
The Secret Service was specifically talking about medical supplies, but this could apply to food as well.
“The criminal enterprise will demand upfront payment or initial deposits then abscond with the funds and never complete delivery of the ordered products,” the agency says in a news release.
4. Give Blood
Another way you can help out right now is by donating blood.
“Blood centers are open now and in need of your donations,” Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. surgeon general, told Americans during a White House news conference. “Blood donations are safe and blood centers are taking extra precautions at this time based on new CDC recommendations.”
The Red Cross is asking eligible people to donate now to save patients desperately in need of blood transfusions.
If you’ve been to any of the countries severely affected by COVID-19, the organization is asking you to wait at least 28 days after you’ve been back before you give blood.
5. Volunteer at or Donate to a Food Bank
Because many people have lost their jobs, community food banks are being inundated right now.
Another great way to help out during this health crisis is to volunteer at your local food bank. If you’re not comfortable going onsite due to social distancing, you may choose to donate or food money instead.
The truth is that clear priorities on what is needed in this crisis are still in the process of developing, Clark says.
“The exact needs are not clear yet, and the best ways to help out are not obvious yet,” Clark says. “There is going to be plenty of time over the months ahead for us to render assistance to others.”