Congress passed a sweeping $2 trillion stimulus package on Friday, its most drastic measure to date to throw a buoy to the American economy that is sinking under the coronavirus outbreak.
Included in the legislation is an expansion of unemployment benefits, lending programs for small businesses and direct support for large and small companies. But lawmakers also agreed to send $1,200, starting in April, to millions of Americans, including those with incomes up to $75,000. Families would receive an additional $500 per child.
For many Americans, this could be an essential lifeline for keeping their families fed and housed during the outbreak and the resulting economic turmoil.
But not all Americans need that extra cash to tide them over until this outbreak passes.
If you are looking to give this money to those who need it most, you may want to consider an organization that will directly help with the coronavirus relief effort — one that provides food or helps with medical efforts.
You can also consider giving to local businesses and families in need directly. Or helping your neighbors in ways that are not necessarily monetary.
Here are a list, no means exclusive, of some charities and nongovernmental organizations on the front lines of the outbreak.
Health aid and protection for medical personnel
The United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation have created the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund to support the World Health Organization in a global effort to help at-risk countries track the spread of the virus, testing and vaccine development, and protective equipment for medical workers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a foundation and an emergency response fund, which is basically a catchall for giving to local health departments, global response efforts, protective gear for medical workers and general response.
Partners in Health provides long-term, dignified care to patients in developing countries. It will use donations to test more than 200,000 people for coronavirus, help international governments coordinate and help local community health workers find the treatment they need.
Direct Relief has made supply deliveries to the United States, China, the Caribbean and South America, specifically to help medical professionals protect themselves from the virus.
Instead of money, you could also donate blood, if you are able to do so. There is a severe shortage because of an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during the outbreak. The Red Cross is a good place to find a local spot.
In the United States, families are struggling to make rent or pay grocery bills. Feeding America will help local food banks respond to the outbreak.
A lot of children rely on school meals. With school closures, those meals are no longer guaranteed. No Kid Hungry sends emergency grants to food banks and helps communicate with families to make sure they can find a hot meal until schools open again.
Many older and homebound Americans rely on Meals on Wheels, and many local programs are struggling with the additional cost of deliveries during the outbreak. Here is information about local programs and here is where to donate to the national organization.
If you want to donate food instead of money, call ahead before you show up to your local food bank. They might have social distancing regulations in place.
Your local shelter probably also needs help. Covenant House, for example, helps young people without homes. If you want to contribute locally, call the shelters in your area first to find out how best to support them.
Local efforts, mutual aid and small businesses
To help your local community, look up your city’s relief efforts.
The Seattle Foundation is tailoring efforts to help Washington State, one of the worst hit areas in the country. There is also a local volunteer intake form, where people can sign up to help their neighbors.
New York City has several food organizations worth noting. Citymeals is taking donations to help older people, and God’s Love We Deliver is looking for both volunteers and donations to sponsor their emergency meal bags for vulnerable people around the city. Invisible Hands is also looking for volunteers to bring vulnerable people necessary supplies.
Other cities and states have their own local organizations — Google your city’s name and “coronavirus volunteering” or “coronavirus donation” to find out what is in your area.
To help your favorite small businesses, you can consider buying a gift card for a meal to enjoy once the doors reopen. If you’re ordering food, it’s best to call the restaurant directly, since delivery apps often take a cut of the business.
Also, many independent bookstores are also offering free delivery or curbside pickup, which will help you maintain social distancing while still supporting a local business.