A global pandemic, the kind that sequesters people in their homes and slows cities to a crawl, leaves people scrambling. When school gets cancelled, some kids lose a meal. College students, too. When hourly wage workers are forced home into self-quarantine without sick leave, some might not be able to pay rent or stockpile food. When folks are urged to skip going out to eat or shop or attend yoga classes, some small business owners feel the revenue loss immediately.
We could keep going on, but if you’ve been following the news about coronavirus—the kneecapping of the U.S. stock market, the whirlpool of misinformation swirling around the White House, the cancellation of sports, music festivals, and about a thousand other events—you know the deal. Hopefully you’ve been able to commit to doing your work remotely, washing your hands a bunch, avoiding people, and taking all the other CDC-recommended precautions for COVID-19. Best case scenario, you’re going stir-crazy from being stuck in your living room with a laptop, your kid and/or dog, and the endless scroll of end-times memes to occupy your brain.
But should you want to take action beyond practicing social distancing, there are a bunch of organizations doing good work right now on behalf of those the coronavirus outbreak is hitting hardest, and they could all use your money. Same goes for the small businesses that you’d normally frequent, and the performers whose work you’re enjoying in your home-bound isolation. Take a look at the list. Check in with your relatives. Call mom back. Help people, if you can.
Feeding America is a nationwide organization that harnesses support from local communities to the federal government to keep low-income families supplied with food. Right now, its biggest concern is children whose schools have closed, cutting off a source of healthy, free meals. Feeding America also has a running list of food banks across the country, if you’d like to donate closer to home.
Meals on Wheels delivers food to seniors—safely, per CDC guidelines, as older folks are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19—and makes sure they’re not left on their own while the country hunkers down. You can donate to the national branch, or call up your local Meals on Wheels provider to see how you can help.
According to medical researchers, the half-million homeless people in America are at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus, and shelters around the country have been advised by the CDC to conduct screenings. Meaning, the already-stressed shelter system will need more assistance than ever. Look to this directory of homeless shelters to find one near you.
The coronavirus outbreak appears to be keeping Americans from donating blood. Hundreds of blood drives have already been cancelled, but if you’re healthy and still have access to one near your home, the Red Cross is asking that you schedule a time to donate. To be clear, there is no evidence that coronavirus can be spread through blood, and Red Cross employees will employ stringent safety precautions.
Across the country, states are telling restaurants and bars to either close up shop or limit their service to take out and delivery only. Clubs, theaters, and concert venues are shutting down. So are book shops, boutiques, and other local joints. Though slowing the spread of the virus is essential, it comes at the expense of these smaller businesses, some of which might consider you a regular. In lieu of a bar tab or a concert ticket, you can buy a gift card now to use later. You can purchase products or merch online. Go ahead and splurge on that delivery order—the delivery person can leave it on your front stoop to avoid close contact—and tip extra well. Anything to keep the cash flow trickling along, as long as you’re keeping your distance.
Your Favorite Performers
With concert halls closed and large social gatherings banned, touring artists and bands, comedians, actors, stage crews, and others are left in the lurch. But there are other ways to support their craft. Many up-and-coming musicians have Bandcamp accounts that allow you to donate directly. Some performers are sharing links to Venmo, GoFundMe, and Patreon accounts. Check in on their social media accounts to see if they’d appreciate an assist. And, as always, buy albums and merch.