The organizations that need your help
Given the pandemic we’re living in, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of suffering people are experiencing due to job and income loss, anxiety, isolation, and illness. But there are real, concrete ways each of us can do something to help right now. So, as we share memes to cope and find ways to stay entertained, we must also find ways to give back — especially if you’re lucky enough to work from home and have extra money in the bank.
The Bold Italic wants to make this as easy as possible for you. If you’re looking for organizations on the front lines that need donations to help those affected by Covid-19, or even those that need volunteers (if you’re healthy and able), check out the list of opportunities we’ve put together below.
The longer it takes for the government to pass a stimulus package to help struggling Americans, the more people will be seeking access to emergency food for their families. Food banks will be in need of resources more than ever in the coming days, weeks, and months. At Alameda County Community Food Bank, monetary donations are most appreciated: “Every $1 you donate helps provide $7 worth of nutritious food.” You can also participate in a virtual food drive. SF-Marin Food Bank is also seeking critical donations and has a need for (healthy, low-risk, and able) volunteers in the warehouse to package senior boxes and grocery bags for neighbors unable to leave their homes.
Oakland Unified School District is closed through at least April 7, though perhaps longer, but the Nutrition Services Department is continuing to feed students on Mondays and Thursdays at 12 locations, where families can pick up “grab and go” breakfasts and lunches. A donation to the district’s Covid-19 Rapid Response Fund will be split among providing healthy meals, virtual learning, cleaning facilities, and gift cards for families in need. San Francisco Unified School District is also providing meals to students. The longer the lockdown, the greater the need. The district is taking monetary donations to keep its student nutrition services going while we fight this pandemic.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced the Give2SF Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund as a place where community members can give a tax-deductible contribution to help provide shelter, food, and assistance to the city’s most vulnerable residents, local businesses, and nonprofits. Donations above $100 will be listed on the city’s website. The Oakland Covid-19 Relief Fund is providing immediate grants to nonprofits working on the front lines in four priority areas: food, homelessness, community health, and economic security. The Silicon Valley Strong Fund will use donations to fund “families and individuals who can least afford a medical or financial crisis, small businesses whose revenues have fallen off, and nonprofits that are seeing an increased need for services or have had to cancel arts, cultural, or fundraising events.” The United Way Bay Area Covid-19 Community Relief Fund is another one that’s doing important work across the region.
Health care workers all around the Bay Area are struggling with not having enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to care for patients who test positive for Covid-19. Hospitals throughout the region are taking donations of crucial items that health care workers need, such as N95 masks (3M and Moldex preferred), gloves, hand sanitizer, and other items. If you have these lying around, please donate them to health care workers. If you’re a crafty person and have a sewing machine at home, you can also sew face masks to donate. Here’s a one-page PDF face mask pattern to get you started. You can check out the Get Us PPE site for a list of hospitals in need of face masks.
This is one unique opportunity where you might be able to volunteer in person while still adhering to the CDC’s guidelines and the shelter-in-place order. Meals on Wheels is a national organization with city chapters across the country. Since it delivers meals to thousands of older people in the Bay Area, many homebound and with disabilities, it’s considered an essential business. The nonprofit reports that it is in need of extra help to assist drivers. Meals on Wheels has stepped up protocols around cleaning and disinfecting work areas, the kitchen, and delivery vehicles after shifts. Learn more about how to volunteer, and if you can’t help in person, you can also consider giving a financial donation.
Our elders are struggling the most during this pandemic. Not only are they at greater risk and must remain at home, but this isolation is also causing them to feel lonely. For those elder residents who do not have family to check on them, a simple call is all it takes to help brighten their day. If you would like to volunteer to make calls to a senior citizen, Little Brothers is the volunteer opportunity for you. The nonprofit also takes donations to provide kits with essential needs. You can donate as little as $25 for a basic kit that includes toiletries and Clorox wipes.
If you are in San Francisco and not at high risk or living with someone who is, you can volunteer to prepare and package meals or distribute groceries out of a warehouse for Project Open Hand. The prepared meals are given to critically ill people and seniors who live in the city. The nonprofit is taking all precautions necessary to safeguard the volunteers and meal recipients.
Blood banks are suffering a critical shortage given the cancellation of blood drives at schools and other buildings. Donors are urgently needed. You must be in good health to donate, and donating has no effect on your immune system. “We need people to start turning out in force to give blood,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which oversees blood donation centers. “We need it not to get to the point that surgeries are having to get canceled.” You can donate at Vitalant, the American Red Cross, the Stanford Blood Center, and several other donation centers around the Bay Area.