How to Support Kids, Seniors, and
Vulnerable Communities during the
COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s our responsibility to wash our hands, self-isolate whenever possible, and follow local government guidelines for slowing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We can also do our part by supporting others in our communities—and worldwide—who need additional help during these difficult times. Here’s our list of organizations raising funds and recruiting volunteers.

We will be updating this list regularly with organizations raising funds and recruiting volunteers during the duration of the pandemic. (Email us at [email protected] if you have additional suggestions.)

Feeding the Hungry

From people experiencing homelessness to students to seniors living independently, many people have been left without a stable source of food due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, please be mindful of those who rely on federal SNAP/WIC benefits for food by choosing groceries that do not have a “WIC” label on their shelf tag.

Feeding America has established a COVID-19 Response Fund to help food banks across the country support those facing hunger in communities impacted by the pandemic.

Meals on Wheels is in need of donations and additional volunteers in order to continue to provide meals to seniors during the COVID-19 crisis. Check with your local Meals on Wheels provider to see what they need and ask how you can help.

Save the Children and No Kid Hungry are teaming up to feed kids who depend on school for healthy meals. They’re also providing resources for helping kids cope with extended school closures and advocating for Congress to pass emergency food funding for low-income families.

Blessings in a Backpack is an organization that works to feed low-income students over weekends when schools are closed. In response to COVID-19, Blessings in a Backpack is striving to get extra bags of food to kids whose schools may close.

World Central Kitchen is the nonprofit founded by chef José Andrés to provide emergency food relief to areas hit by disasters. In addition to its worldwide efforts to empower communities through food, WCK has started a COVID-19 response called #ChefsForAmerica, which is focused on locating gaps in existing food programs, delivering fresh meals to communities in need, and founding a network of community kitchens. WCK is looking for monetary donations and volunteers. (Andrés also just wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times about mobilizing the restaurant industry to help those in need during the crisis that’s well worth the read.)

Supporting Families and Children

Baby2Baby has suspended item donations for the time being: It is collecting monetary donations to purchase, transport, and distribute basic necessities for low-income families, including diapers, wipes, blankets, hygiene products, clothing, and school supplies. Baby2Baby is Los Angeles–based, but it maintains a large national network of family foundations and diaper banks.

Good+Foundation is a national nonprofit supporting low-income parents and caregivers. It is asking for monetary donations to the Good+ Crisis Fund, which will support the families and sister organizations that rely on Good+ throughout the coronavirus crisis and during the period of recovery that will follow. You can donate by visiting he website or texting “GoodPlus” to 44321. For needed items, such as car seats, strollers, and clothing, it is accepting only emergency corporate donations at its New York and Los Angeles warehouses.

The Indigenous rights and land advocacy non-profit Seeding Sovereignty has founded the Indigenous Impact Community Care Initiative, which is seeking donations to provide personal protective equipment, healthy food, and other essential care to Apache, Pueblo, Navajo, Paiute, Lakota, Dakota, and Ojibwe communities across the United States.

Global Health Systems

The United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation have organized a COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund benefiting the World Health Organization’s effort to prevent and mitigate the effects of COVID-19. The fund supports the delivery of protective equipment to health care workers and also supports laboratory testing, education efforts, and accelerating research into diagnostics, treatments, and vaccine development.

Doctors Without Borders provides medical care where it’s most needed, including fragile medical systems in vulnerable communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Doctors Without Borders is facing supply shortages, in particular protective equipment for health care workers. It is also acting in support of people experiencing homelessness, living in refugee camps, or living in countries affected by major conflicts. It is accepting donations and channeling resources to where they are most needed.

International Medical Corps is working to provide equipment, training, and triage and treatment services in communities where COVID-19 has spread and health systems are vulnerable. Its work builds upon existing response capabilities in the regions it operates in, both globally and in the United States. International Medical Corps is accepting monetary donations to support its work worldwide.

Direct Relief is coordinating with public health organizations and nonprofits to provide essential protective gear and medical equipment to health care workers worldwide. It most urgently needs funds to replenish its available supplies.

The International Rescue Committee delivers aid to vulnerable people worldwide, especially refugees and people in crisis zones. It urgently needs additional funding to support local health systems and reduce the impact of coronavirus.

Philanthropic grantmaker Charities Aid Foundation of America and freight logistics company Flexport are currently raising funds through the Frontline Responders Fund to purchase and deliver personal protective equipment to hospitals.

United Way Worldwide has established the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to help provide food, shelter, education, and health support to vulnerable populations, including people experiencing homelessness. You can donate to the worldwide fund or search for United Way programs in your area.

Donating Blood

With social distancing in effect, most blood drives, which are usually hosted at schools, college campuses, and workplaces, have been canceled. In the United States alone, as of March 18, nearly 4,500 drives have been canceled, resulting in a loss of more than 150,000 blood donations. But there’s still just as much need for blood transfusions as there was before the coronavirus crisis began. The American Red Cross website has a feature to help you find a place to donate blood, which includes nonhospital locations, such as Red Cross chapters, blood donation centers, and police precincts. Additional safety measures and hygiene protocols are in place.

The Red Cross is also seeking plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19. Researchers are currently studying whether antibodies present in survivors’ plasma may be useful in treating patients, and early reports show encouraging results.

Supporting Service Workers

The Salvation Army is working to provide emergency support—including rent, utility, and food assistance—for people facing low wages and unemployment due to COVID-19. Donations help the Salvation Army meet increasing needs in the communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

One Fair Wage, an organization committed to full, fair minimum wages for all working people, is organizing an emergency fund for service workers facing job loss due to COVID-19. It needs donations in order to continue providing cash assistance to those who need the money they aren’t getting during the pandemic.

Giving Kitchen provides financial support and a network of community resources to the food service community in the state of Georgia. It is asking for monetary donations to support food service workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or under doctor’s orders to quarantine, while its support network is helping people who have experienced layoffs find other sources of income.

Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation addresses issues that affect the food service industry. Right now, RWCF is organizing a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund directing money toward individual workers facing hardship and health crises as well as providing zero-interest loans to get restaurants back off the ground when this is all over.

The National Domestic Workers Alliance has established the Coronavirus Care Fund, which provides emergency cash assistance to caretakers, nannies, and house cleaners affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. The NWDA is requesting donations to help domestic workers be able to stay home and stay healthy.

Animal Welfare

Some local animal shelters are in need of monetary donations for food and supplies. Others are looking for temporary foster homes. If you are able, consider fostering an animal for the duration of the pandemic. (If you’re self-isolating, quarantined, or working from home, it’s a great way to enjoy a little companionship with a new friend.) Or donate funds so that shelters can continue to provide food to the animals under their care.