Pay It Forward – Ways to Help During the Pandemic

Growing up I was extremely close to my grandfather. I wasn’t the only person who loved him, Gramps was everybody’s favorite person. He could light up a room, make you feel better when you were blue, make the hurt go away, fix things when it all seemed a big mess. He was an extremely jolly, affectionate, and giving man.

I was fortunate having grown up with someone like him teaching me how to laugh, how to be kind, how to be generous. And because of his influence I constantly find myself constantly saying – What would Gramps do?

I am definitely saying that now – pretty much every day. What would Gramps do if he were here today? Well, it’s obvious. He would try to help as many people as he could. It wasn’t all luck that gave him everything he had, he worked very hard for it. But he still knew he was lucky nevertheless, and he wanted to share his good fortunate with those who weren’t as blessed.

There are a lot of people who are having a rough time right now. And I’m not just talking about those of us who are feeling pent up because we’ve been stuck at home for a week or two (or three) and may be for weeks to come.

There are people who have been laid off from their jobs. There are people who have already started to run out of money because they live from paycheck to paycheck. There are people whose small business are on the verge of folding. There are people who have been scrambling to get onto unemployment, which will help, but that is only sixty percent of their normal pay. There are people putting their lives at risk every single day so that the rest of us can stay in our homes.

So what can we do? Because if there’s one very important thing we all need to remember right now – there is no us or them, there is only we.

Here’s a few suggestions of things to try:

1. I mentioned in my last blog post about supporting small businesses – USA Today set up a website where you can buy gift cards from small local businesses, to use at a later date, which will help those businesses while they have to stay closed. Potentially this will help them continue to pay employees, pay their rent and other fixed bills, pay for employees health insurance, and/or give employees small bonuses, etc. You can see which businesses have gift cards listed in your community at this link. If your favorite business(es) aren’t listed, notify them of them website so they can sign up! OR see if they have gift cards available for purchase directly on their website.

2. Try to get tips to your hair stylist, manicurist, massage therapist, eyelash technician, restaurant servers, bartenders, etc. (anyone you normally tip) via venmo or PayPal or mailing a check. Many of these people rely on their tips as a large part of their income so even if they are still getting paid and/or are getting unemployment, they are losing quite a bit of money. If you hire a cleaning service and you’ve put that service on hold (and can afford it) consider still paying them. I know that this may seem odd, paying someone not to work, but you are not only helping them, you are helping the economy and that ultimately will help everyone.

2a. Update: here’s a new site I just heard about where you can leave a Virtual Tip for people working in bars and the beverage industry.

2b. Another update: Buy Aviation Gin!

3. Donate to the Coronavirus Rent Relief Fund – this GoFundMe sponsored GoFundMe fundraiser is raising money to help people who need help paying their rent. So far they have raised over $125,000.

Those who actually want to apply for assistance can click on this link.

4. Make a donation to your local food bank(s) – call you local food pantry to find out what they need most and how they want you to drop it off or better yet, see if they accept donations on their website. Another option would be to donation to Feeding America. They are helping local food banks deal with the outbreak.

5. Eater has made a list of Relief Funds for Restaurant, Bars, and Food Service Workers – you can make a donation to any of these nonprofits or organizations. Remember, even though restaurants are still doing curb-side service, they are only doing a fraction of the business they normally do. Plus, they most likely are only keeping on the staff they need to run the kitchen and possibly a few servers to take food out to the customers so not everyone is making money. Also, if/when you order from your local restaurants, be sure to give them big tips!

6. Direct Relief – they need your donations! This non-profit provides essential equipment and supplies to medical workers around the world and during the pandemic

“The humanitarian relief group Direct Relief has been delivering personal protective equipment including masks, gloves and gowns to China since January. Recently, it shipped oxygen concentrators to China, said Direct Relief spokesman Tony Morain. They’re devices that coronavirus patients can use to help them breathe at home, rather than being hooked up to a ventilator at a hospital. They’re needed because hospital beds are in short supply in China, Morain said.

China is about six weeks ahead of where the U.S. is, Morain said. While communal transmission has slowed, there are still recovering coronavirus patients who need help breathing. Direct Relief recently bought about 500 oxygen concentrators for U.S. patients, and it’s committed $2 million to help nonprofit community health centers in the U.S. prepare for the outbreak.”

7. Give Blood – If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment now to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

8. Volunteer with Meals on Wheels – again, only if you are healthy, but Meals on Wheels is predicting that they are going to see a rather large increase in demand during the outbreak. As we’ve all heard many times, older individuals can be in the high risk category and health officials are saying that extra precautions should be taken for anyone over the age of 60. The majority of individuals receiving meals from Meals on Wheels will be in the high-risk category.

9. Donate to Planned Parenthood – there are some states that are placing abortion on the list of non-essential procedures that should be delayed. There has been systematic attempts by anti-abortion politicians, with support and funding from anti-abortion groups, to make access to abortion more difficult, but their attempts have become more intense over the past three and a half years. For those who may not be familiar with this fact, abortion has been legal in the United State for nearly 50 years, since 1973. It is also legal in the majority of first world countries. The fact that politicians who choose this time to push their ideological agenda is more than disgusting.

10. VOTE. Hopefully you are a registered voter, that will make it much easier to vote absentee or by mail. Check on your local municipal website to get instructions on how your state has set up for you to vote if you have an upcoming election. In my state (Wisconsin) there is an election on April 7th. Wisconsin Residents who are registered can request an absentee ballot so they can vote via mail until April 2nd. For more information on Wisconsin voting you can go to this link. Here’s an NPR article from March 24, 2020 about how many states are looking at expanding absentee voting.

11. Don’t need your stimulus check? (Notice the emphasis on need, versus want.) Individuals earning up to $75k will be receiving $1200 and families will receive an addition $500 per child. Here’s an excellent article from the New York Times on where you can donate some or all of the new found income.

Update (April 14, 2020) : Here’s an article on 10+ Funds/Foundations for Artists impacted by COVID-19. Although the article is intended to help the artists who are seeking assistance, any one or more of these organizations is looking for donations.

Update (May 6, 2020) : Just heard about this from Charlie Berens (who is hilarious), how to help Wisconsin Dairy Farmers.

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