BY BEN YAKAS, JEN CARLSON, ELIZABETH KIM AND DAVID CRUZ
It's understandable to feel overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic. And if you're not an essential worker, you're hopefully staying at home and self-isolating right now, which makes it difficult to help. But there are ways — if you want to do more to contribute to your fellow New Yorkers, we've compiled a list of how to donate, volunteer and support local businesses below.
HOW TO DONATE SUPPLIES
- The state has set up a phone number for those who wish to donate supplies. People should call 646-522-8477 or email COVID19supplies@esd.ny.gov. Those who have supplies or equipment to sell can also reach out to the state by filling out this procurement form.
- New York City has set up a website that involves filling out a basic registration form. People can also call 833-NYC-0040.
- Not all local hospitals are taking direct donations from the public, but The City has compiled an exhaustive list of hospitals that have provided a channel for people to reach out.
HOW TO DONATE BLOOD
The New York Blood Center remains open and is taking blood by appointment only as a way to "manage donor flow."
Blood drives across the country may be cancelled, but it doesn't mean you still can't contribute. The American Red Cross maintains it has a number of drives happening around the tri-state area, though New York City is not a location for scheduled drives. For a full list of events, check out their website, or you can call (877) 733-2767.
The New York Blood Center also notes that while you should self-screen for any COVID-19 symptoms before going in to donate blood anywhere, "there is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion. In fact, there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmission for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus."
HOW TO DONATE PLASMA AS A RECOVERED COVID PATIENT
The New York Blood Center has also prioritized extracting blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, partnering with Mt. Sinai Health System to transfer that blood to patients still fighting the virus. Recently hospital researchers have shifted the experimental plasma antibody project into high gear — in part because there's a "sweet spot" when recovered COVID-19 patients' plasma samples are richest in antibodies, said one research official. The procedure has shown that patients who've received a transfusion saw their health improve.
Get more information about their requirements to donate here.
HOW TO HELP ESSENTIAL WORKERS
- NYC's Department of Health has set up a special website that explains various ways you can directly contribute to essential workers and first responders. They are accepting donations of essential goods, services, and spaces here; and you can donate to The First Responders Fund here, which assists COVID-19 health care workers and first responders with expenses and costs, including childcare.
- You can also donate through the city's COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, which provides resources and support to a wider range of people and businesses including: health care workers and essential staff, local small businesses, displaced hourly workers, including immigrant workers, and families, youth, and vulnerable New Yorkers.
- A number of businesses have also launched GoFundMe campaigns for their employees — so if you have a spot you're looking to help, search their name for a fundraiser because there may be one — this would allow you to directly help the workforce at your favorite local.
- The city is also also looking for skilled tech employees who can volunteer to aid the state in coming up with "technology driven products with leading global tech companies to accelerate and amplify our response to COVID-19." Get more info about that Technology SWAT Team program here.
- The United Way of New York City and the Robin Hood Foundation have both established COVID-19 relief funds as well.
HOW TO HELP IF YOU'RE A HEALTHCARE WORKER OR MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
- New York state has put out a call to all retired and out-of-state healthcare workers and mental health professionals asking them to volunteer in the response to coronavirus. Those who are interested can fill out a survey on the state's website. At the end of March, Governor Cuomo had said 40,000 people had responded.
- If you are looking for mental health help for yourself or someone else, City Limits has compiled a list of useful links for dealing with isolation, including: Telehealth and Online Mental Health Resources During COVID-19 Pandemic; Helping Kids Cope With Isolation; NYC Domestic Violence Support; and more.
HOW TO DONATE TO OR RUN ERRANDS FOR SENIORS OR THOSE CONSIDERED "HIGH RISK"
- A group called Invisible Hands is looking for "low-risk," able-bodied individuals to deliver groceries for vulnerable New Yorkers. In a short time, they have amassed 7,000 volunteers. Similar more locally-based variations can be found on Facebook like Bushwick Mutual Aid, which was founded for people who want to find a way to help, or Queens Mutual Aid.
- Brooklynites have also reportedly begun using the Nextdoor app to enlist neighbors to run various errands for seniors or individuals who are homebound, such as picking up groceries or medicine. Described as a cross between Facebook and Craigslist, the app has received newfound attention amid the coronavirus crisis, allowing users to share tips, recommendations, offers and requests. Among the new features is a map in which neighbors can add their location and volunteering abilities.
- Those who like to bike can volunteer to be a member of Corona Couriers, which picks up groceries in all boroughs except Staten Island and is also accepting donations for a grocery fund for those strapped for cash. Those interested should call or text (929) 320-0660, or email email@example.com.
- You can donate to Meals on Wheels, which is delivering 200,000 in-home emergency meals to the elderly throughout the country. Or Presbyterian Senior Services, which offers professional hands-on consultations for people with serious health conditions such as Alzheimer's and dementia. They are also providing daily to-go meals for older adults age 60 and older during this crisis.
- If you want something you can do from home, the organization DOROT also connects people with the elderly to talk to on the phone or over video chat so they aren't totally isolated.
HOW TO HELP HOMELESS & DISPLACED PEOPLE
- Homeless New Yorkers, who have limited ability to get masks, gloves and other essential goods, are especially vulnerable right now. There are tons of worthy organizations who are continuing to offer food, mental support and other services to them during this period, including: St. Ann's Corner of Harm Reduction, Coalition for the Homeless, St. John's Bread & Life, the Bowery Mission, the Ali Forney Center, The Salvation Army, Partnership for the Homeless, and Housing Works.
- You can also donate to the following organizations who focus on aiding women and families in need: Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Women's Mental Health Shelter, Ronald McDonald House New York, and WomenKind.
HOW TO HELP LOCAL RESTAURANTS & BARS
The restaurant and bar scene has taken a huge hit — many once-thriving spots have closed, while others work with a small staff to offer takeout and delivery, but even those have seen a huge decline in sales. Here how you can help:
- Give them some business: Check out delivery and takeout options near your home, and place an order every now and again. It's important to note that experts have so far not found any epidemiology pointing toward food as a risk factor for getting the virus. As Ben Chapman, a North Carolina State University professor and food safety expert, told Vox, "takeout is okay. I think that having touchless, interaction-less delivery really, really helps because the big issue is interacting with people." (You'll still want to discard packaging immediately and wash your hands if you go this route.)
- Restauranteur Luca Di Pierto had to close four of his five eateries across the city, but he's helped launch Feed the Frontlines, which helps to support "Tarallucci e Vino and other NYC restaurants by creating opportunities for their employees to prepare and distribute free meals for hospital workers" in the city.
- Tip Generously: Delivery workers are going to great lengths shuttling carryout orders to those trapped in their homes. They're also putting their own health in danger to do so. Tip extra.
Again, many restaurants and bars have launched campaigns to raise money for their employees — so look up your favorite spot(s) to see what they're doing. Eater has a running list of some of these.
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE TO FOOD BANKS
The city's food banks are struggling, too, due to lack of resources, sick employees, and higher prices for food. “There is a tsunami of further needs that is coming,” David Greenfield, CEO of the Met Council, told the NY Post. “In most neighborhoods, you only have one food pantry. Once that food pantry is closed, it shutters that lifeline to all the needy people in the neighborhood.”
Here are some major ones that are still open and accepting donations: Food Bank of New York City, City Harvest, and FoodPantries.org, which has a comprehensive list of all the various food banks in every neighborhood.
HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE
Indie Bound, a promoter of independent books across the country, made supporting your local bookstore easy with their search engine which can help you find a local indie bookstore online. They also offer some helpful tips to keep bookstores staying fiscally healthy during this crisis, including: ordering online or by phone; signing up for your local bookshop's newsletter; preordering books; purchasing a gift card; and most importantly, "spreading the word on these mom-and-pop bookshops during a dire crisis."
There's also Bookshop — which Inside Hook reports is "a super clean, user-friendly online bookstore whose raison d’être is supporting independent bookstores — not simply with exposure or resources (though that’s certainly a factor), but with cold hard cash." The project is getting a lot of attention, and during a recent interview, founder Andy Hunter explained, “Any bookstore can sign up on our platform and create a shop page in just half an hour, and they can start selling books to their customers right away, without actually having to touch or ship anything.”
HOW ANYONE CAN HELP
- Stay home (if you can!). It's that easy. And it doesn't cost anyone anything! If you must go outside, be sure to wear a face covering.
- For those who haven't lost a job, but are simply confined to working at home, consider paying it forward, literally. It might be a good idea, and even a way of building good karma, by donating to service workers you normally patron but haven't done so because of the virus.
- If you want to volunteer but aren't sure where to start, Catch A Fire matches people with remote volunteer work for non-profits based on their skills.
- You can also consult NYC United Against Coronavirus, a constantly-updated Google doc filled with tons of useful links to various aid efforts around the city.
- And practice #caremongering where you can:
Have you seen other ways to help? Leave a link in the comments.
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