2020 has become a strange, scary, and unprecedented year. As COVID-19 tears through the world, taking a truly horrifying number of lives, it has also forced society to shut down, socially distance, and shelter-in-place. Such extreme measures are the only way to lessen the virus' spread, also known as "flattening the curve," and buy medical workers the time they need.
Now, more than ever, people must listen to the experts. Physical distancing, or staying at home, is the single most important thing you can do. However, for those looking for other ways to help during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when it comes to assisting the most vulnerable members of the population such as healthcare personnel and the homeless, there are some key ways you can pitch in.
How to Support Small, Local Businesses in Need
Giant corporations and industries will survive the COVID-19 pandemic. They have the resources, the money, and the backing to weather the storm. But not every business is so lucky. From the mom-and-pop shop down the road to the local restaurant across the street, small businesses are facing a high likelihood of financial strain—perhaps leading to layoffs, closures, and bankruptcy—under the stress of COVID-19. The loss of these businesses could entirely change the landscape of local neighborhoods, leading to less cultural diversity, more gentrification, and dire financial consequences for working-class owners and employees.
However, if you're lucky enough to have extra funds, you can still help these businesses from your living room couch. Consider purchasing gift cards for your favorite establishments (with a focus on the small, local businesses). Every dollar counts, and by buying gift cards from these businesses today to use at a later date when the pandemic clears up, you are essentially offering the business a sort of "mini-loan." If enough customers do the same, this can help the local businesses in your community stay afloat.
Stay at Home, Save Lives, and Contribute to the Cause
In desperate times like these, the most vulnerable US populations are being hit harder than ever. Homeless shelters are unable to accept volunteers, and nursing homes have forbidden visitors, meaning that the elderly individuals within them are more alone than ever. Refugee and immigrant populations, which are already struggling to get by, are experiencing new hardships. If you have the money, there are numerous organizations that could use your donations.
- Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the US, has established a COVID-19 Response Fund to assist food banks across the country
- The World Health Organization has set up a COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund
- You can support refugee healthcare via USA for UNHCR
If you'd like to help workers whose livelihood has harshly been impacted by the outbreak, you can donate to
- The Children of Restaurant Employees COVID-19 Relief Program
- The American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Fund
- The US Bartenders Guild COVID-19 Relief Fund
To support local Massachusetts essential frontline workers and vulnerable populations across the state facing homelessness, food insecurity and loss of critical services, you can donate to the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund launched by Massachusetts Governor Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker in partnership with the One8 Foundation.
Finally, consider donating some of your non-perishables to homeless shelters and soup kitchens, which are in need of food donations now more than ever.
Of course, medical workers such as nurses, doctors, and CNAs have become the country's lifeline. While everyone else quarantines at home, these courageous individuals are risking their own health and safety day after day and standing on the front lines of an unprecedented health crisis. Horrifyingly, those same medical workers are facing an equipment shortage, ranging from a lack of ventilators to a critical shortage of basic PPE (personal protective equipment) such as gloves, gowns, caps, respirators, and masks. Because of this, one of the best ways you can help is by sewing homemade medical masks which can be donated to medical workers in need.
There are a number of groups across New England leading the charge, and you can join all of them on Facebook. In New Hampshire, there are the Seacoast Mask Makers, while in Massachusetts, there are Masks for Massachusetts as well as the Boston Area Mask Initiative. If sewing isn't your thing, these groups are also in need of donations such as elastic, woven cotton fabric, twist ties, and thread.
Of course, not everyone has money, materials, or time to donate. The COVID-19 recession is at hand, and a staggering number of people are now filing for unemployment. However, the act of self-quarantining is actually the biggest thing you can do to help others. As strange as it seems, staying at home legitimately saves lives, not just because you're protecting your own health but also because if you're an unknowing carrier of the disease, you could spread it to others without realizing it. So no matter what, self-quarantine as much as possible and help flatten the curve.
Give for Good
Hard-working organizations are attempting to help vulnerable populations get through this terrible pandemic and they all need charitable donations. To simplify the donation process as much as possible, an Eastern Give For Good account allows customers to find causes and directly donate to them through their mobile and online banking, which will ensure that their money goes to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic.