The coronavirus has upended life across the globe. For some, it is merely the inconvenience of self-quarantining, the disruption of the usual daily schedule and the anxiety. But for others — including the elderly, homeless, chronically ill or disabled or food insecure, as well as first responders and health care workers on the front lines — the pandemic can threaten lives, livelihoods and health.
Here are ways you can help, safely and while maintaining social distance.
The Isaiah House Homeless Shelter and Food Pantry is dire in need of non-perishable food and cleaning supplies. You can reach out to them with donations here. Or feel free to donate money. Your gift can be made on the website and is tax deductible.
Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry is very low on supplies, and requests donations. In a recent Facebook post, a representative said, “[w]e take food donations in the front vestibule of the church at 217 Prospect St, SO. Hours: Mon-Sat 7-4; Sun 8-12… Monetary donations can be mailed to the OLS Parish Office at 217 Prospect St, SO 07079.” You can also donate online. Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry is open 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 8-11am, including this Saturday.
MEND is a local interfaith hunger relief network that works with food pantries to make sure food insecure families get much needed help. You can donate money online. And you can “shop” online for a Most Needed Food Box with items like canned tuna, chicken and green beans.
If you have already covered those bases and want to do more, here are a few suggestions:
FLAG (Front Line Appreciation Group) of South Orange and Maplewood is a group dedicated to feeding front line healthcare workers at Newark Beth Israel Hospital during the coronavirus pandemic while also keeping SOMA local restaurants in business. They accept donations of $10-$20, but more is always welcome. “A little extra fuel and love from the community can go a really long way to help them feel appreciated and keep them healthy,” say FLAG SOMA’s founders.
Fabricland is selling kits to help make fabric masks. Each kit costs $25 (this includes shipping) and provides all materials needed to make 25 masks. It’s shipped priority mail so you can get those masks made asap.
Want to keep our health care workers fed while they are fighting coronavirus? Tito’s Burritos lets you call in with a credit card to sponsor ready-to-eat meals to health care providers and first responders at 5 local hospitals. You can sponsor a meal for $15 plus tax.
Donate masks or money to the South Orange Rescue Squad.
Donate blood through Atlantic Health Systems, or the Red Cross, which is safe to do. Blood banks are low on supply due to the coronavirus emergency, and lots of blood drives have been canceled due to closed facilities. So you need to check their links to find the most recent information. AND, if you are recovered from coronavirus, your blood is especially needed for plasma, because it has antibodies and may prove helpful to people with severe cases. Find out how to donate here. You can also donate much needed blood specifically to sickle cell patients.
Sometimes little things can make a big difference. For instance, healthcare providers can really use lip balm to keep their lips moist under their masks. If you’d like to donate a container of lip balm (or ten), Kimaya Kama is donating a large box for St. Barnabas’ medical staff. You can buy something at at Kimaya Kama to help offset the cost.
If you’d like more ideas, check out the Facebook group SoMA Quarantine Assistance Delivered, or SoMA SQUAD. It’s a closed group, but they are happy to have you as long as you want to help. Not only do people post with ideas for urgent needs in our community, but there’s a daily shopping report listing current conditions at local stores, which is a bonus for local do-gooders.