Feeling Helpless? Here's How to Help Someone Else During a Pandemic

These groups need your help -- and you might feel a little better after you volunteer, safely

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Feeling a little helpless right now? Try helping someone else.

As the nationwide coronavirus pandemic has stopped everyday life in the Philadelphia area, local leaders launched two major funds to help the region's social services groups and non-profits.

And other groups -- from social-service agencies to unions to food pantries -- have created their own ways to help.

Here's what you can do to help people affected by the pandemic:

Did we leave something out? Email us here with a suggestion.

Give blood:

The Red Cross says it is experiencing a "severe blood shortage" because many of its blood drives were canceled. The New York Times says that as of March 18, more than 4,500 blood drives had been canceled, resulting in nearly 150,000 fewer donations.

The Red Cross is strongly urging healthy donors to make an appointment (you can do that here.)

Red Cross employees follow strict safety procedures, so giving blood is a safe process. They are disinfecting equipment even more frequently now, and checking temperatures before donors enter a facility.

Give money to funds helping non-profits:

There are now at least two regional funds set up to help people who need it.

Philadelphia announced its PHL COVID-19 Fund Thursday to help keep non-profits afloat during the crisis and "ensure that critical resources remain available and readily accessible for those in our community."

You can give to the PHL COVID-19 Fund here.

Montgomery County also said it was starting a similar fund.

Spend what you would anyway, if you can:

Can you "pre-buy" your next trip to the barbershop or nail salon? Maybe buy a gift card from a favorite local restaurant or retailer? Give them a call to see if you can, or check their web sites.

Just make sure that you are working with people you know and that you are working with them directly. Unscrupulous people do take advantage of people in times of crisis.

Give to a workers' group:

There are several groups that have organized to help restaurant workers and performing artists, who are out of work. Just be careful and check out the group before you give.

These funds have been vetted by reporting or have union backing: The Philly Restaurant Server Relief Fund, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, the UNITE HERE Education and Support Fund.

Volunteer to drive meals to those in need:

Montgomery County also says it has an urgent need for Meals on Wheels drivers and Food Pantry volunteers. You can click here to see the needs and how to volunteer.

And MANNA, which delivers nutritious meals to people with serious illnesses in the Philadelphia area, is eager to find more volunteers. You can volunteer for MANNA here, or just send them a little money.

You can also give to Philabundance, which fights food insecurity. Philabundance is building and distributing emergency food boxes across its nine-county service area.

A donation of $100 will fund eight boxes that each provide two meals for a family of four. Remember, money is a far better gift for large food nonprofits like Philabundance than food (keep your cans in your own pantry!).

Or just get on Amazon and buy a few things that Project HOME, which serves people experiencing homelessness, has on its Project HOME wish list.

Remember, give carefully:

Before donating to a charity, check them out on Charity Navigator. They have a list of “highly rated” organizations responding to the pandemic at

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