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Some Key Ways To Help People Affected By Coronavirus

Boston Public Schools positioned 700 school breakfasts and lunches at the YMCA in East Boston for kids to take home if they were not able to attend school. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Boston Public Schools positioned 700 school breakfasts and lunches at the YMCA in East Boston for kids to take home if they were not able to attend school. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

As we all practice social distancing, many of us are craving a little human connection and, possibly, ways to help others in the community. Here are some examples of how you can help your fellow humans (and animals).


Several hospitals are asking for donations of personal protective equipment such as N95 respirator masks, safety goggles and paper gowns.

The American Red Cross says it is facing a "severe blood shortage" because of canceled blood drives, and it's asking healthy individuals to donate blood, platelets or AB elite plasma.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and The Massachusetts Medical Society are collecting medical equipment that offers maximum protection, such as surgical masks and full hospital gowns. If you’d like to donate, email MEMA at or call 508-820-2074

Besides medical equipment, Boston Medical Center is also accepting financial donations and volunteers (clinical and non-clinical) who can support the homeless, isolated, or quarantined population during this time.

If you’re a medical, nursing, or otherwise medically-trained student and want to help clinicians  on the frontline, consider offering childcare or delivery services. You can sign up with Medical Personnel Support Boston.

Relief Funds

State officials launched the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund in early April. It will partner with a network of nonprofit community organizations across the state that serve some of those hit hardest by the pandemic or most at risk of infection.

Mayor Marty Walsh launched the Boston Resiliency Fund to help those most immediately affected by the virus. According to the city, it intends to use the funds to pay for food for children and seniors, technology for Boston students and support for first responders and healthcare workers. As of March 25, the fund hit its $20 million goal but is still fundraising.

United Way has several regional relief funds, including COVID-19 Family Support Fund of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, the We Care Fund in central Massachusetts and the Greater New Bedford COVID-19 Response Fund to help hourly, low-wage workers and others hardest hit.

The Combined Jewish Philanthropies Coronavirus Emergency Fund will go toward community members most affected by the pandemic.


The Greater Boston Food Bank has a few ways to give. They say monetary donations will be the most helpful, but they do have a few links for people to volunteer.

Project Bread also says monetary donations are the most effective way to help. It has a food source hotline to connect people to their closest food pantry and access SNAP and other benefits. They also have a lot of statewide information about school meal offerings, such as this interactive map and links to spreadsheets with hyper local information.

Food for Free has a massive ongoing effort to coordinate volunteers to help with food distribution in the Cambridge and Somerville areas.

Students looking for food can find a map of locations here. For Boston Public School students, pick-up locations are here.

Meals on Wheels is seeking donations as they work to deliver or serve meals to more than 2 million seniors across the country. They are having trouble finding volunteers.

The Greg Hill Foundation and Samuel Adams launched the Restaurant Strong Fund, with the goal of giving $1,000 grants to full-time restaurant workers in Massachusetts who depend on wages and tips.

Two Boston chefs had the idea to provide food for busy medical staff while helping local restaurants fulfill more orders. If you’d like to buy your healthcare workers lunch or dinner to say "thank you," check out Off Their Plate.

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association advises anyone who wants to help local restaurants to buy gift cards or vouchers directly from those business websites. The city of Boston is maintaining a list of restaurants open for takeout and delivery.

Arts and Culture

Boston Artists Relief Fund will award grants of $500 and $1000 to individual artists who live in Boston and were affected by the coronavirus. Here's a list of grants and resources for artists and nonprofits.


The MSPCA is asking for donations of pet food and other items on its Amazon wish lists for its centers in Boston, Nevins Farm and Cape Cod.

Volunteering / Requesting Help

Dozens of communities are creating lists to match volunteers with specific requests from their neighbors. The Human Network Initiative through Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School is collecting these lists. You can look for your specific community here to make an ask or sign up to volunteer.

WBUR's Yasmin Amer, Carrie Jung and Kathleen McNerney contributed to this report.

This article was originally published on March 19, 2020.


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