Boston Helps

Bostonians are good at coming together in times of need. That’s why we’re launching Boston Helps to solve a few of the local challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

While the number of people in Massachusetts who have tested positive for the virus continues to rise, others are hoping to prevent its spread by staying home, closing down their businesses, cancelling plans, and more. This upheaval to our daily routines will mean a lot of things, many of which are still being written, but at least one is certain: Some of our fellow residents will unexpectedly lose paychecks, open empty refrigerators, or need a ride as they face the hardships created by this event.

You can help. By clicking one of the links below, tell us if you’re willing to help someone who might need it, or whether you need a little help yourself. (And if you are experiencing a medical emergency, please visit your doctor’s office or local emergency room.)

We’re encouraging these acts of kindness as a small reminder of our connection to each other — even as we stay away from public spaces, work from home, or deal with illness, in the days and weeks to come.

I can help | I’m looking for help

If you’re looking to help, you’ll receive an e-mail with the contact information and need of the person you’ve been paired with. You are then expected to reach out to that person.

If you’re looking for help, we will match you with someone who has volunteered to help. They will receive your name, e-mail, phone number, and what you’ve requested help with. They will then reach out to you to coordinate.


City resources for volunteers and monetary donations amid COVID-19:

Boston’s centralized volunteer recruitment site: Boston Cares, a New England volunteering organization, has partnered with the City of Boston and Boston Public Schools to centralize volunteer recruitment and coordinate new efforts meeting the city’s evolving needs during the pandemic.

You can donate to the City of Boston’s resiliency fund: The “emerging priorities” of this fund are to provide food for children and seniors, technology for remote learning for students, and support to first responders and healthcare workers.


Other organizations accepting monetary donations:

The Greater Boston Food Bank: “Money is the most important thing,” said Catherine D’Amato, the food bank’s CEO. “The money helps us purchase food. The act of donating food isn’t going to get us out of this situation. It’s not a can of tuna fish; it’s 10,000 cans of tuna fish. So that’s where the dollar allows us to really act quickly.”

The Actors Fund: The Actors Fund is providing grants to those left unemployed by the coronavirus closures.

Boston Area Performer Support Fund: This GoFundMe was set up to support performers — be it drag, djing, burlesque, or other stage performance — who’s gigs have been cancelled in the Boston area. The fund also supports those who aid stage performers, like lighting and sound engineers, who are also out of work.

Boston Music Maker Relief Fund: The Record Co. established a fund on March 13 providing financial relief to Boston area musicians who have lost their income due to performance cancellations related to COVID-19. The company will be offering small grants of up to $200 to artists and bands on a first come first serve basis.

Boston Rescue Mission: The homeless shelter and social service provider is continuing to offer shelter, food, and programs to those in need, though it is not accepting outside food donations.

Family Aid Boston: Family Aid Boston serves nearly 2,000 children and parents in the area, providing them with food, shelter, and basic necessities like toiletries, diapers and personal hygiene products. Larry Seamans, the organization’s president, notes the particular vulnerability the homeless at this time.

“If you’re a homeless person, you’re at the bottom of the economic ladder,” Seamans said. “For families with children who don’t have access to childcare, it’s not like it’s easy for them to get grab-and-go lunches offered by the schools. And the MBTA’s limited schedule has actually created problems of social crowding.”

To that end, Seamans and his staff have turned Family Aid’s office into a distribution center to assemble deliveries of food and necessities to the families they serve. “Right now part of the challenge of supporting families is doing it en masse, so we’ve started a campaign to buy items in bulk,” Seams said.

Heading Home’s COVID-19 Fund: Heading Home is seeking volunteers and raising funds to support their more than 500 shelters and housing programs in their care with food, household items, and cleaning supplies.

Pine Street Inn Tenant Support: The staff is attempting to stock pantries with a two-week supply of food. “Tenants in our housing often obtain food from local food pantries,” Barbara Trevisan, Pine Street’s vice president of marketing and communications, said. “Since many pantries are shutting down, we have initiated a fund to purchase gift cards for food and other essentials.”

 

Other ways to help:

Where to give blood: The American Red Cross is urging “healthy, eligible individuals” to donate blood or platelets to boost the country’s supply amid rising coronavirus concerns. The request comes as cold and flu season has presented its own challenges for the U.S. to keep up its blood supply.

How to provide free housing for COVID-19 first responders: Airbnb hosts can open their homes for free for health care workers in need of emergency housing. Airbnb is also accepting donations. All proceeds will go to an Airbnb partner organization providing free housing for healthcare professionals, relief workers, and first responders.

MSPCA-Angell: MSPCA-Angell is asking for donations through an Amazon wishlist of canned and dry cat and dog food to distribute to local food pantries. The organization aims to reduce the burden for food insecure pets and people in the community. The MSPCA has donation bins set up outside the adoption center at 350 South Huntington Avenue in Jamaica Plain. For animals in need of immediate surrender or emergency temporary housing for pets whose owners are ill or hospitalized, you can call or make an appointment. The MSPCA-Angell’s three adoption centers are closed to the public. Get more information here.

Cambridge Health Alliance: Cambridge Health Alliance is asking for donations of personal protective equipment. Donations can be dropped off 24/7 with CHA Public Safety at the main entrance of Cambridge, Everett, and Somerville Hospitals.

The Friday Cafe: Organizers and community members are volunteering at 11 Garden St. in Cambridge to bag lunches for drop-off.

Massachusetts Life Sciences Emergency Supply Hub: “We’re asking every life sciences and healthcare organization to consider how they may be able to help, specifically in donating lab, testing, and diagnostics supplies, personal protection equipment (PPE), and medical and scientific expertise needed to combat COVID-19.” To get involved, interested life sciences and healthcare organizations should respond to this survey.

Victory Programs: This Back Bay nonprofit helps Bostonians who are facing homelessness and may be struggling with substance use disorders and chronic health issues. They are seeking pantry items and also toiletries for their mobile prevention team, which takes to the streets to offer sexually transmitted infection testing and counseling, overdose education, and other services for the homeless. Donations are accepted on Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m. at Victory Programs’ administrative office at 965 Massachusetts Ave. in Boston. All items must be new and in original packaging.

Youth on Fire: This LGBTQ-inclusive safe space in Cambridge provides hot meals, showers, rapid HIV testing, housing and more for youths 14-24, many of whom do not have access to a stable environment to practice social distancing right now. Check out their Amazon wishlist for other items that you can mail to the shelter.

Additional resources will be added as information becomes available. If you would like your information to be included on our coronavirus guides and resources, please e-mail us at community@boston.com.

— Nathan Tavares contributed to this report


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