by Jessica Giles | March 24, 2020

How You Can Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Small businesses, nonprofits and the people severely impacted by this economic shutdown need us now more than ever.

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Chef working in the kitchen.
Restaurant employees, hospitality workers and others in the service industry are feeling the effects of COVID-19. Photography by Daniel Nijland

From sewing face masks at home to ordering takeout from local restaurants, there are many ways that we can help one another during these uncertain times. While some people are grappling with financial distress and job loss, others may be in a position to give. If that’s you, check out some of the ways that you can support your fellow Floridians below. If you’re in need of help, take a look at a list of resources


STATEWIDE

  • Bacardi is asking people to partner with them in offering relief to the bar and restaurant industry by donating $10 to one of the following organizations: the U.S. Bartenders Guild’s COVID-19 relief campaign, the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation or Another Round Rally. The funds will be used to aid out-of-work bartenders and servers. Learn how to donate here
  • The Gannett media company has launched supportlocal.usatoday.com to help small businesses throughout the country, including several in Florida, stay afloat during the pandemic by allowing you to purchase gift cards online. Search for your town on the website and browse the partnering businesses. 
  • The coronavirus has caused a blood shortage around the country. If you’re healthy, consider donating at your local blood bank. Blood blanks are following strict sanitation guidelines and social distancing practices. Schedule an appointment here.
  • Sew protective face masks and gowns for medical workers using free supplies and patterns from Joann Fabrics. All masks and gowns will be donated to local hospitals. Find video tutorials on their website here, or stop by your neighborhood Joann Fabrics to pick up supplies and learn how to assemble them.  
  • Participate in Great American Takeout Day. Today, restaurants are calling on the public to order takeout to help them survive the financial hardships brought on by the coronavirus outbreak. Some restaurants are even offering special deals or free delivery. 
  • Support performing artists by donating to the Recording Academy’s charity, MusiCares. The funds are used to award musicians grants at a time when gigs are being canceled. 
  • The pandemic has led many people to cancel their fishing excursions resulting in major losses within the fishing industry. Support fishing guides who have taken a serious financial hit due to coronavirus by donating to the Save the Season campaign or purchasing Save the Season gear.

stacks of sweet potatoes, chilis and onions
Food banks around the state are in desperate need of donations and volunteers. Photography by John Lambeth

NORTH FLORIDA

  • Feeding Northeast Florida is ramping up efforts to feed the elderly and low-income families during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’ve seen a drastic decrease in food donations and an 80 to 90 percent reduction in volunteers. If you can, donate financially to help the organization source more food products. If you’re healthy, consider volunteering your time to help feed families in Northeast Florida. Volunteers must be 16 to 75 years old and pass a health screening test. 
  • Donate to the Florida Theatre’s part-time worker relief fund. Since the theater was forced to close due to the virus, part-time employees, including stagehands, bartenders and box office workers, have lost their income.

Small business owners standing in front of a mural.
From left: Bryon White of Yaupon Brothers Tea Co., Catie Adams of The Galley, Melanie Snavely from Crimson House and Chris Coyle from New Smyrna Beach Brewing Co. pose in The Florida Local NSB Vernacular T-shirts. Photography by Philomena Polizzi

CENTRAL FLORIDA

  • The Florida Local in New Smyrna Beach has partnered with the nonprofit Foundation 37 to support community members struggling due to COVID-19. When you purchase one of the Florida Local’s New Smyrna Vernacular T-shirts, $5 will go toward Foundation 37’s mission to financially support locals during this time.
  • Support small businesses in New Smyrna Beach without leaving your car by swinging by the drive-thru farmer’s market. Score fresh produce from Frog Song Organics, dog treats from Furry Friends, a to-go order from Yaupon Brothers Tea and other local goodies. The farmer’s market will be open today through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. 
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida has combined resources to act as a distribution center for smaller food banks. To find out how you can donate or get involved, click here.

Consider donating money to relief funds for Miami hospitality and restaurant workers. Photography by Andrew Seaman

SOUTH FLORIDA

  • Donate old electronics to the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County and help students transition to virtual learning. Check here for a list of electronics needed and details on how to ship them. They range from iPads to Dell Chromebooks. 
  • Goodwill South Florida has partnered with the community to help take care of its employees, who are mostly people with disabilities. The nonprofit, which employs over 3,000 people, is asking for help to give its employees an option for paid leave during the pandemic. These employees are not only responsible for running the 36 stores and 54 donation centers in South Florida but also serve the community by cleaning government buildings and doing laundry for hospitals. To donate to the Goodwill South Florida coronavirus fund, click here.
  • Hands for Hospitality is a GoFundMe campaign designed to financially support laid off or furloughed hourly hospitality workers in Fort Lauderdale. All donated funds are given to hourly employees from participating restaurants, which include Rivertail, The Wharf, Tarpon River Brewing and many others. Click here to see the full list and donate.
  • Feeding South Florida is in need of volunteers and monetary contributions to feed families and seniors during the COVID-19 outbreak. Thanks to Ultimate Software Inc., financial donations will be matched up to $250,000. Click here to donate or sign up to volunteer
  • Notable Miami chefs, including Michelle Bernstein of Cafe la Trova, Brad Kilgore of Kilgore Culinary and Michael Beltran of Ariete, have come together to create the Miami Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. The fund will be used to extend $250 grants to out-of-work Miami restaurant employees. Click here to make a donation.

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