Giving Back to Our Communities During Times of Crisis

Psychologists say that helping others, especially in a crisis, is a great way to reduce your own stress and help you manage through a difficult situation.(1)  If you are in the fortunate position of being able to help your community during this time, you may be wondering, how? We’re hoping that the ideas in our webinar above and the article below may help you determine how you can best do that.

First Responders

  1. Donate blood locally, for instance at Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle, or through the American Red Cross (by appointment only).
  2. Donate to your local hospital – Most have foundations that will allow you to direct your donation to Covid-19 response. SF Bay Area hospital systems, like Kaiser, UCSF, Sutter Health, Stanford and Seton among others, will accept donations of medical supplies in particular. Visit California’s COVID-19 Medical Supply Contributions website for more information. In Seattle, the two main hospital systems are the UW Medical Center, accepting donations under the UW Medicine Emergency Response fund, and the Swedish Medical Center Foundation. While most Seattle healthcare centers will accept medical supplies, they do have to ensure these supplies are disinfected, so cash donations are preferred.
  3. Donate to a national organization like the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. They also have a specific Covid-19 fund.
  4. Show gratitude. If you know a first responder, let them know how much their work means to you.  Make a handmade card, cook a meal (or order one through ESR in Seattle) that can be left on their doorstep, send them a nice text.
  5. Most importantly, drive down the demand for their services. Adhere to CDC guidelines to keep yourself and your family healthy.


  1. Donate to food banks or volunteer locally. Many people who don’t normally need these services are suddenly finding themselves in this position for the first time. In Seattle, there is Food Lifeline (essentially a food bank for the food banks – they take donations and are looking for volunteers to assemble emergency food kits), Northwest Harvest, and the Ballard Food Bank. In the SF Bay Area, SF-Marin Food Bank, Berkeley Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, East Bay Food Bank and Alameda Food Bank are seeing an increase in need at a time of food insecurity. St. Anthony’s  and Project Open Hand help feed at-risk communities, and more resources are available at SF.Gov.  
  2. With kids out of school it is harder for them to get the meals they need. Donate to organizations who help with this. Nationally, the No Kid Hungry organization is focused on helping schools and communities feed children due to school closure. In the SF area, SFUSD Student Nutrition Services is providing free grab-and-go meals for kids at sites around the city and Spark SF helps ensure food security to more than 56,000 students across 119 school sites . Visit SF.Gov for more resources. In Washington, the Backpack Brigade prepares backpacks of meals for Seattle school kids to take on weekends.
  3. Find ways to help laid off workers in the food and beverage industry. The restaurant industry is being hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. In Seattle, The Plate Fund provides $500 emergency relief grants to individuals who live and work in King County who have lost their jobs in the restaurant industry or are experiencing significantly reduced hours of work due to the COVID-19 crisis.  You can also “tip” someone who served at one of your favorite bars or restaurants through the Seattle Tip Jar , which keeps a running list of service industry workers and their previous employer who have been laid off or furloughed. In the SF Bay Area, a “tip jar” concept has also been set up by Unstoppable Software. 
  4. Support people in the arts. The Seattle Artist Trust is galvanizing individuals, foundations and government to provide immediate assistance to this hard hit community.  In the SF Bay Area, local arts organizations are sending out missives looking for support such as the San Francisco Ballet or the Fine Arts Museums Recovery FundSF Opera’s Production and Operations Departments have donated their unused N95 masks, gloves, shoe covers, protective suits and googles to protect our healthcare workers.
  5. If you’d like to spread out your contribution to many organizations, your local community foundation has likely formed a COVID-19 Response fund to donate to. The Seattle Foundation has just sent out a first round of funds to non-profits all through the greater Puget Sound region that help the most vulnerable; low income workers, the homeless, people with high health risk and other communities in need. The Marin County Foundation has already received over $500,000 to this fund from MCF donors and generous Marin residents.
  6. Buy gift cards from your favorite service providers to use in the future. Like hair salons, local restaurants, and lawn/home services.

Time Resources

  1. Check in on your neighbors, especially the elderly and vulnerable. Offer to run errands or go to the grocery store. In Seattle and surrounding areas, Sound Generations is the largest provider of comprehensive services for   aging adults and their loved ones in King County. In the SF Bay Area, you can volunteer to help an elderly, immunocompromised or disabled community member through the following organizations:
  2. Make handmade cards or write notes and deliver to your neighbors’ front door. I received one last week and it really made me smile and believe in the goodness of people.
  3. Make the world a brighter place. Literally. Some neighbors are putting their holiday lights back up, and if you have sidewalk chalk, you can create uplifting pictures and words of encouragement. No need to be Picasso, it is the thought that counts. You can also create fun posters to hang in your windows.

Want more ideas? Contact us and let us know how we can help you find the right avenue to support your communities.





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