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How to (keep) helping during the pandemic

Covid-19 isn't going away any time soon. Here, our regularly updated guide to how you can continue to help our communities

How to (keep) helping during the pandemic

Covid-19 isn't going away any time soon. Here, our regularly updated guide to how you can continue to help our communities

Covid-19 is showing no sign of leaving Philadelphia, and we here at The Citizen continue to hear from communities in need—and those who are determined to help them.

It’s during times like these when Philly shows its best self—when neighbors band together to support their independent stores, when community organizations pivot from serving one need to filling a more time-sensitive one, and when every Philadelphian has the drive and the power to make a difference.

Keep scrolling for an ongoing and regularly updated list of ways you can help during the coronavirus pandemic in Philadelphia, or skip right to these sections:

How to help during the coronavirus pandemic

1. LIMIT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19

First things first: It’s up to all of us to do everything we can to slow the virus—wash your hands, wear a mask, and stay home when you can. You’ve heard it all before, but the CDC has a great primer here.

2. DONATE TO THE CITY’S COVID-19 RESPONSE FUND

On March 19, the city announced a partnership with area foundations and businesses to create a fund for area nonprofits serving people in need during the crisis. Seeded with an initial $6.5 million from United Way, Philadelphia Foundation, William Penn Foundation and others, the fund is still accepting donations as low as $25, 100 percent of which will go to nonprofits.

3. HOW TO HELP THE ELDERLY DURING THE PANDEMIC

Keep your distance in order to keep them safe, but call, text, Facebook message, stand on the stoop and talk through a crack in the door. The elderly are the most vulnerable, and also often the most in need of things like medications and other household items, and may need help bringing those home from the drugstore or corner market.

Organizers at Philly We Rise created a mutual aid survey where you can offer services—like prescription pick-up, grocery delivery, transportation and direct monetary donation—to your neighbors. You can also join your neighborhood Facebook group to find out who and how you can help.

The Philadelphia Corporation for the Aging is continuing to operate with a limited staff in order to help the elderly who depend on their delivered meals. They are asking supporters to consider donating to their Rodney D. Williams Philadelphia Fund for Seniors, which is their primary source of revenue, or to their Emergency Fund for Older Philadelphians, contributing to food, fuel, and medical supplies for the agency.

Easter Outreach has developed a network of volunteer delivery drivers to transport meals and groceries from senior centers to elders in need; check out their full list of opportunities at ForPhilly.com.

Senior Citizens United Community Services is keeping its doors open during this crisis, but asks that volunteers or the general public limit themselves showing up one person at a time, versus in any kind of group. They need volunteers to help prepare and deliver food, shop for those who can’t leave their homes, and with clerical support within their office. Those interested in volunteering can call 856-456-1121.

And Kleinlife, which operates in Northeast Philadelphia, is asking for drivers willing to deliver home meals to their 600-plus elderly clients throughout the Philadelphia area, including in the Northeast, Center City, and West Philadelphia. Volunteers will wear a mask and receive their meals for delivery and their routing information outdoors. (They ask anyone with medical conditions or symptoms of illness not to volunteer.) Those interested can email [email protected] for more information. 

4. SUPPORT THE HOMELESS

Project HOME is asking Philadelphians to check out their in-kind needs here, and is in particular need of bottled water; toiletries like soap, lotion, shampoo, sunblock, deodorant, Clorox wipes, and hand sanitizer; hygiene items like clean underwear and socks; as well as face masks and non-perishable food, particularly for people who rely on the organization’s Hub of Hope. In the spirit of social distancing, you can shop for their needs via their Amazon wishlist here.

With the situation evolving daily, they’re grateful for any financial contributions, to help cover the costs of unpredictable needs as they arise. And they’re also asking folks to make masks for their 1,000 residents; they’re hoping to get each resident two masks. Get more info on that initiative here.

Salvation Army is also serving the hungry and homeless at their shelters, and is grateful for any donations you can make here.

And The Sunday Love Project is now serving meals to go, instead of sit-down meals, for those in need. They’re looking for a small number of volunteers to make sandwiches or snack bags for the homeless, especially in Kensington. They’re also requesting specific food donations, which donors can find on their Amazon Wish List. (To minimize the number of volunteers during social distancing, please reach out here first before showing up.)

5. SUPPORT RESTAURANTS AND FOOD INDUSTRY WORKERS

The Philly Virtual Tip Jar has a growing list of restaurant workers who lost their jobs, at least temporarily, when the city shut down on all non-essential businesses. Go here to find a server you know or someone from a restaurant you frequent and donate to them directly via PayPal.

A similar project, Hope for Hospitality Relief Fund is picking up where the Philly Restaurant Server Relief Fund has left off, aiming to send $400 a week to about 25 laid off restaurant workers during the shutdown.

And Takeout Covid lets you order food, cocktails, wine, and beer for delivery or take-out as a way to keep 300+ local restaurants. in business.

6. HELP THE HUNGRY—AND GET FOOD IF YOU NEED IT

With children still out of school and increased unemployment, Philabundance  is reporting up to a 60 percent increase in clients. The organization’s largest need is for monetary donations to purchase quality food items like produce, meat, and dairy, as food prices have gone up significantly due to supply chain issues caused by the pandemic. They’re also seeking healthy volunteers to help pack emergency food boxes; sign up here. (While Philabundance is taking every measure to keep their facilities sanitary, they understand that immunocompromised volunteers should not be out and about at this time.).

You can find free food pickup points here, and families with students in the District can visit the city-wide sites for free breakfast and lunch.

Krishna Foods Food for Life is delivering fresh, healthy, and hot vegan meals directly to those in need. They are asking supporters to consider sponsoring plates so that they can increase their capacity to deliver meals. Donate through Venmo (@mantralounge), CashApp ($mantralounge), or go here for other payment options. 

7. MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS

In times of uncertainty, the one in five of all of us who cope with mental health issues may be struggling even more than usual. You can’t help others if you’re not helping yourself, whether that means reaching out to your mental health provider via phone or tele-conference, making sure your prescriptions are filled, and reaching out for support. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has created this Covid-19 resource page, and if you are in crisis, crisis, text CRISIS to 741741 to be connected to a trained crisis counselor for free, confidential support 24/7.

Council for Relationships (CFR) has established the Council Cares for the Community Fund to provide free and low-fee, online and phone counseling to those who have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CFR fund is two-fold: The first part is the “Those Who Care for the Community” Initiative that will provide free counseling services to health care providers, first responders, grocery store employees, delivery people and other essential workers who have been serving the public since the pandemic’s onset.

The second part of the fund will allow CFR to expand its current low-fee counseling services to respond to an increased demand for little to no-cost mental health services for individuals with lower incomes and those experiencing a recent loss of employment. Donate here.

8. CONTRIBUTE TO PUBLIC ART PROJECTS

The all-volunteer project Fill The Walls With Hope put out a call for artists and poets to create works to be installed around town. You can join in by making your own piece of art, supplying a building on which to hang large wheatpaste installations, donating or just downloading a print to hang in your window.

Or, join nearly 3,000 Philadelphians in the One Philly Coronavirus Public Art Project by using a prompt posted every week to create a work of art around a common theme—and then, of course, display for the world to see.

9. PROVIDE HOUSING FOR PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES

Hosts for Hospitals is a local nonprofit that offers lodging at volunteer homes to families and patients coming to the area for specialized medical needs. During Covid-19, patients with critical medical situations are still traveling to town for non-elective, out-patient care: Families with sick children, adult and pediatric oncology patients, and pregnant moms with medical complications are among those who do not have a lodging option, leaving Hosts for Hospitals in desperate need of accommodations. They’re asking that anyone with a private, furnished lodging setting contact them to potentially help these families in need. Lodging can be a carriage house, in-law suite, unused apartment, or home where the owner is away.

10. DONATE MONEY

Call the nonprofits you believe in, and find out how you can support them at a time when fundraisers like galas, events, and drives are understandably canceled. Now more than ever, nonprofit organizations need funding to carry out their meaningful work.

Women’s Way created the Rapid Response General Operating Fund to support organizations serving women, girls, and/or the trans/gender nonconforming community. Donate to support their work here.

Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has set up an emergency fund to be distributed through schools, synagogues, and other Jewish-affiliated organizations in the region, to support the elderly, children, families, and those who are food-insecure and out of work; donate and learn more here.

Philadelphia’s Covid-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program only has funds to help about 3,000 renters out of the 40,000 or more who might need it. Donate here to help Philadelphians remain in their homes and prevent homelessness.

Pay It Phorward is a monthly peer-to-peer program that aims to provide a small monetary lift to help individuals and businesses during the pandemic: It’s donation model, a grassroots, no-strings-attached, no-red-tape method of getting money into people’s hands as quickly as possible. You can give as little as $5. Donate or apply for a grant here.

11. SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESS, HELP EMPLOYEES

This is always a good thing to do, but even more important now, when local businesses are likely to suffer from social isolation. Check on your local go-tos, and ask whether they’re open for online business, how you can (safely) support them with gift cards or in other ways.

PowerCorpsPHL, the nonprofit that trains young people for jobs of the future, is in need of devices (like Chromebooks) and mobile hotspots, to sustain their distance-learning. To make a donation to support their tech needs, contact [email protected].

You can buy an e-gift card bundle for a group of Philly businesses at loveyourlocal.org, organized by Jordan Denny, founder of Momentary Ink Company.

Circles of Aunts & Uncles has set up a GoFundMe to support local businesses, and put together a guide for how you can help them.

The Merchants Fund (TMF) has provided support to merchants and small businesses during times of financial hardship since 1854, and you can now donate to the Merchant Relief Fund to support small businesses in Philly, particularly those in under-resourced areas with little access to other programs.

Support South 7th Street Shops Gift Certificate Program: For a limited time, buy a gift certificate for a participating store on South 7th Street, and SEAMAAC, Inc., will match your purchase at 50 percent to help keep local stores in business.

12. TAKE CARE OF PETS

The Pennsylvania SPCA is in need of financial donations. As with Philabundance, dollars go further than in-kind food donations, however they’re always in need of treats, toys, and blankets. And they’re doing adoptions by appointment now, too.

ACCT Philly is asking Philadelphians to consider fostering long-term, fulfilling donation requests on ACCT Philly’s Amazon Wish List, or adopting. Find more info here.

For your own pets, be sure you have enough food (and, for cats, litter), and check in with elderly neighbors to ensure they do too; if neighbors who are quarantined or elderly have animals with medical issues, helping transport their pets to appointments can be crucial.

The Humane Society of the United States has been supporting residents of North Philadelphia who are part of their Pets for Life program with pet food, medication, and emergency veterinary care. Support their work here.

13. DONATE BLOOD AND PLASMA

The Red Cross currently faces an urgent need for blood donations to prevent another blood shortage, as hospitals resume surgical procedures and patient treatments that had been paused earlier this spring. They’re testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for Covid-19 antibodies to provide donors insight into whether they may have been exposed to the virus. To make an appointment to donate blood and receive your antibody testing results, visit here.

They’ve also collected and distributed thousands of convalescent plasma products, a potentially lifesaving treatment for critically ill Covid-19 patients; they encourage fully recovered individuals to complete their Donor Information Form here

14. SUPPORT DOMESTIC WORKERS

The National Domestic Workers Alliance has set up the Coronavirus Care Fund with the goal of raising $4 million to support in-home care workers, nannies, and house cleaners; the fund will provide immediate financial support to these oft-overlooked workers, giving them a safety net that will enable them to stay home, and stay safe. Donate here.

15. HELP IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES

With immigrants and refugees being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, Nationalities Service Center has set up an emergency relief campaign; proceeds will go directly to clients for food and rental assistance.

With additional reporting by Kiersten A. Adams, Kellie Brown, and Katherine Rapin

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