Looking to Help? Many Local Groups in Need of Volunteers, Funds

Brent Warren Brent Warren Looking to Help? Many Local Groups in Need of Volunteers, Funds
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Editor’s note, 3/30/20, 11:33 a.m.: this article (originally published on March 18), has been updated with more information on ways to support local nonprofit organizations.

Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.

The needs are many in Central Ohio as it becomes more and more clear that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local residents and businesses will be both wide-ranging and long-lasting.

Multiple efforts have sprung up on social media within the last week to connect those in need with those willing to help. Conversations among neighbors on Facebook and NextDoor highlight a desire to help seniors and other at-risk individuals who may need groceries delivered or prescriptions refilled. Some of that outreach has led to more organized efforts, like the Mutual Aid Central Ohio group or another called Meals During Crisis Central Ohio.

Leaders of local nonprofit organizations are applauding the outpouring of generosity but stressing the need to also rally behind groups that have been in the business of helping our neighbors for years, many of which are struggling right now and in great need of help.

Michael Corey, Executive Director of the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County, singled out several organizations that are in particular need of donations – LifeCare Alliance (which provides Meals on Wheels), Children’s Hunger Alliance, and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, as well as the many local, neighborhood-based food pantries that the food bank supports.

Both the United Way and the Columbus Foundation have set up emergency response funds which are currently accepting donations.

Some organizations have also posted calls for non-monetary donations and assistance – the YWCA Columbus posted a needed items list on its website, the Red Cross is in great need of blood donors, and many food pantries are asking for help assembling pre-packaged boxes of items to give away as they shift away from on-site shopping.

Corey also emphasized that citizen advocacy is needed, as crucial decisions are being made at the local, state and national levels about how to respond to COVID-19.

“There’s a surge of generosity and an eagerness to help, which is absolutely amazing,” he said, “but among the most important things right now is to advocate to the state and to Congress to support nonprofits and healthcare providers with ample resources, and to eliminate any and all roadblocks for people so they can remain home and safe at this time.”

“This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint,” Corey added, “and that will also be true of the philanthropy and do-gooding that so many are eager to provide right now.”

Update: a new website has been launched with a list of local nonprofit organizations – sorted by neighborhood – that are in need of material donations or volunteers.

This chart created by the Point App helps people decide if they should be volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

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