In times of widespread need, many are inclined to offer a helping hand, whether by serving food or helping rebuild a ruined home. Now, as we confront the coronavirus pandemic, many are looking for ways to offer help to their neighbors, communities, and other vulnerable populations.
Already, there are many ways to offer aid to those who need it most: food-insecure families, isolated senior citizens, those experiencing homelessness, and people with disabilities. Below find funds, programs, and nonprofits that are accepting donations in the form of money or supplies, as well as some advice from the executive director of a Denver nonprofit. (Note: This list isn’t comprehensive and will be updated as more resources become available.)
On March 18, Gov. Jared Polis launched two programs to respond to the coronavirus on a statewide level. The first, Help Colorado Now, is an effort to direct people interested in volunteering into needed roles, and the second, Colorado COVID Relief Fund, is a fund that will help support citizens across the state who are impacted by the virus. Sign up on the Help Colorado Now site to find safe volunteer opportunities, whether that’s providing virtual support, delivering food, medication, and supplies to at-risk individuals, or assisting those who live alone get through the crisis. You can also sign up to be a neighborhood team leader, which entails coordinating and informing the volunteers in your neighborhood and reporting to the county leader.
If you’re unable to volunteer, you can also make donations to the Colorado COVID Relief Fund, which will be disseminated into prevention, impact, and recovery efforts, ultimately paying for medical supplies, food services, support for small businesses, and more. If you wish to contribute, you can do so here.
Across the country, including here in Denver, school districts have extended spring breaks or shut down until the end of the school year in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As a result, not only are thousands of K–12 students confined to their homes (if they have a place to call home), but many have lost access to one of their only reliable sources of meals throughout the week: their school cafeteria (about 67 percent of DPS students qualify for free and reduced lunch.) In response, the Denver Public Schools Foundation has set up 11 distribution sites throughout the county so that students can stay fed. In order to sustain the program, as well as make the resource available for food-insecure adults and families to have food stocked for the weekend, you can donate here.
Map of Distribution Sites
Chalkbeat Colorado has created a comprehensive map of Front Range meal distribution centers, including information on who qualifies to receive these meals and when the sites are open.
Whether you’re healthy and social distancing, showing symptoms and isolating yourself, or in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, it’s much easier to do so when you are housing secure. For the almost 4,000 folks without a home in Denver, staying healthy during this tumultuous time is an even greater challenge. In order to assist this community while social distancing, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is asking that people who want to help check the organization’s needed items list on Amazon and purchase items to be sent to the Stout Street Health Center at 2130 Stout St., Denver, CO 80205.
Older adults are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. The Seniors’ Resource Center, which dedicates its services to older adults and those with developmental disabilities, is accepting King Soopers gift cards at their administrative building (3227 Chase St.). SRC employees will do the grocery shopping and deliver to their clients at their homes. While their day center locations are currently closed to prevent large gatherings, staff are still transporting medical and food goods as needed. Donations in cash and check form are also helpful. Online donations can be made here.
While the disability rights nonprofit doesn’t yet have a program set up to respond to the pandemic, executive director Julie Reiskin noted that they’ve been receiving calls from folks who don’t have any food or whose supply is close to running out. In response, she recommends checking in with neighbors (especially those without cars) to see if they need help getting groceries or other supplies. Similarly, she urges everyone to check in with friends and neighbors who are family caregivers to see how they can help (with closures of schools and other centers, many family members are now on 24-hour duty to care for a loved one with disabilities). Beyond these actions, she urges people to check out the Denver Foundation, which has set up a Critical Needs Fund to help anyone currently at risk.
At this point, any nonprofit organization could use help, whether due to the closure of facilities or because their clients are suffering in response to the impacts of social isolation. “Just be sure to vet the nonprofit before you make a donation,” Reiskin says.
Did we miss a local organization that is looking for assistance? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.