How to help D.C., national charities withstand the pandemic

Media Credit: Sophia Young | Contributing Photo Editor

Charitable donations have become more important than ever this year as unemployment figures hit record highs. Consider a gift to one of these organizations this season.

From COVID-19 relief organizations to food drives, there’s no shortage of places to give this year.

The ongoing pandemic has highlighted issues like health care disparities and racial inequality across D.C. and the country. Several organizations have popped up in the past few months to aid those less fortunate over the months, but they still need funding to sustain themselves through the health crisis. 

Here are a few places you can support this year:

D.C. organizations:

GW Cares student assistance fund

The GW Cares fund was created to help undergraduate and graduate students who are facing financial hardship in light of the pandemic. These funds help your peers pay for anything from housing to food and technology, according to the website. Some donors have also offered to match up to $100,000 in donations, so even a small donation could make a big difference.

Donate here.

Thrive DC

What started as a program to serve dinner to women experiencing homelessness in the late 1970s expanded to become one of the largest nonprofits supporting the homeless population in D.C. The program provides meals at its location, 1525 Newton St. NW, each morning and evening. A donation would also fund its additional services, like substance abuse counseling and victim services.

Donate here.

Ayuda

Ayuda is a DMV-based program that provides immigrants and immigrant families with legal services like immigration, domestic violence and family law support. The organization also offers language services like interpreters and social services like emotional therapy, crisis intervention tools and employment information. 

Donate here.

Wanda Alston Foundation

Wanda Alston was an activist for LGBTQ rights and a political organizer for pride marches in D.C. until her death in 2005. The foundation, named after her, provides safe housing for LGBTQ youth in two homes, one in Ward 7 and another in Ward 1. The organization also offers services like job training, emotional support and case management to LGBTQ youth participating in the program.

Donate here.

Pandemic relief funds:

Americares

Americares is an American-based nonprofit that works to improve health care and access to communities affected by natural disasters and poverty. In response to the pandemic, the nonprofit is distributing protective gear and disinfectant materials to communities disproportionately affected, like the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe. It also provides mental health related support groups and workshops for frontline workers preparing to volunteer health services. 

Donate here.

Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund

The Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund was started in response to the pandemic by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network to support the country’s population of immigrant workers who were left out of the government’s economic relief programs. Money donated to the organization is distributed by NDLON member organizations across the country to low wage workers and day laborers to help them pay for necessities like food and rent. The organization also organizes food banks, distributes grocery store gift cards and manufactures face masks and other protective gear. 

Donate to the fund here.

National bailout funds

Prisons have proven to be continuous hotspots for COVID-19 – by November, nearly 200,000 incarcerated individuals had tested positive for the virus. National Bailout works with #FreeBlackMamas to fundraise bailout money and advocates for policymakers to pass legislation that would give incarcerated individuals a pathway out of jail or prison during the pandemic. Once prisoners are bailed out or released for being at a high risk for the virus, the National Bailout then works to provide them with services like housing, jobs and health care. 

Donate here.

Feeding America

Despite a worsening pandemic, more than half of food banks across the country are experiencing inventory shortages. Feeding America works with more than 200 food banks and 60,000 partners nationwide to coordinate collection and distribution assistance. Money donated to the organization is used to secure, package and distribute donated food to people in food insecure neighborhoods across the country. During the pandemic, the program has also provided food pantries with personal protective equipment and sanitizing products. 

Donate here. Feeding America also helps those interested to connect with their local food bank here.

Material donation drives:

The Red Cross

The Red Cross is urging all healthy and eligible blood donors to donate blood, which can be used to help COVID-19 patients. The organization enforces strict pandemic safety measures at all blood banks across the country, including thorough sanitizing and disinfecting, sterile equipment and constant physicals for all medical professionals involved. All donated blood is tested for COVID-19 antibodies and the plasma from donations that test positive can be used to aid COVID-19 patients in need of plasma transfusions. 

The American Association of Blood Banks created a search tool to help willing donors locate their nearest blood bank. Make financial donations here.

Clothing

The Salvation Army, Goodwill

Centers like The Salvation Army and Goodwill are continuing to take donations at some locations while employing strict COVID-19 precautions. Both also accept monetary donations for their pandemic relief efforts, but they will accept used clothing and household items and distribute donations to Goodwill and Salvation Army storefronts around you.

For the Salvation Army go here for resource guides and to locate your nearest drop off location. For Goodwill, go here.

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