Monday, March 16, 2020

Consistently Updating Post: Ways to Help Fight Covid-19 in Minnesota

We're all in this together. 


Image by ADAM ZYGLIS, THE BUFFALO NEWS, NY

I, like many of you, have been shocked at how quickly changes due to COVID-19 have rippled through our communities in the last few weeks. Literally overnight we have seen closures of stores, entertainment, transit, conferences, workplaces, schools, and just about every non-essential function.

I know that I always feel better in times of need or crisis when I feel like I am able to do something (anything) to help others. Often that involves physical volunteering as my funds are limited, which is obviously off the table right now for most organizations (and for me personally).

That said, there ARE many ways that organizations are creatively finding ways to pitch in to help each other out and uplift the community. I've seen links flying around ad hoc and wanted to consolidate what I can find for anyone seeking a one-stop-shop of ways to give back and kick into gear. See below for what I have and keep checking back here - I will continuously amend this list as more organizations announce initiatives.

And as a reminder - make sure to express your gratitude when you are able to those who are on the front lines of risk of exposure to and fighting the infection rate of the virus. It expands far beyond just healthcare, and there are crucial groups of workers (such as janitors, grocery and gas store clerks, etc.) who deserve our care, attention, respect and gratitude. This article provides a good illustration of some of these workers and the risks they currently face.

To start off, this is a one stop shop collecting resources by zip code across the entire U.S. It's an amazing spot to resource help of many kinds - check it out: https://findhelp.org/

This is also a good resource for questions about the stimulus that passed the U.S. Senate yesterday - it's a handy FAQ from the New York Times. 

Healthcare 

I am *obviously* not a medical professional - so don't listen to me (or any other blogger / internet personality / etc.) about medical habits. Instead, seek these resources:


Education / Childcare

While schools are trying to set up remote learning, many parents still need to fill time with enriching activities while systems are down or overloaded. Here's a roundup of some proactive ideas:


Food Access

Many, many restaurants are offering to provide free meals to students who cannot eat for free at school (god bless them all!). This master list is being maintained with addresses and details of what kinds of meals are available.


For shoppers - pay attention to which foods have WIC marking on the price tags and when possible choose other options. WIC assisted shoppers are not allowed to choose other items when WIC items are sold out, so saving those groceries for those who have no choice will help those most in need.

Also some grocery stores are implementing limited hours for shoppers most at risk of the virus (compromised immune systems, the elderly, etc.) to shop first and have first access to most goods. Lunds & Byerlys is one such store - at-risk shoppers can come from 7 - 8 a.m., and the store opens to all shoppers after 8 a.m.

If you want something to do physically with your free time, Second Harvest Heartland needs volunteers to help pack individual food drop off boxes. They have a huge space that allows volunteers to follow COVID-19 protections (lots of soap available, 6+ foot distance between volunteers, etc.), so it's a safer option than others to volunteer. Click here to learn more.

And additionally, the hospitality industry is being devastated by this crisis - many are already unemployed, and restaurant and catering groups are quickly working to pivot towards nontraditional business revenues. Eater has a more global update on things you can personally do to help your favorite local venues weather this storm.

Local beer producers are beginning to offer pickup and delivery, so if you want libations to pick up your spirits (ahem) - click here to learn more and support small local businesses through an extremely tough time.

Additionally, CityPages developed a nice resource for restaurants and booze purveyors offering pickup and / or delivery, and WCCO News has created *the* definitive list (in interactive map form!) for restaurants offering pickup and delivery throughout the crisis.

NPR just did a great short piece on why you don't need to disinfect your groceries, also giving important tips for safely grocery shopping to limit your exposure.

Housing, Utilities and Pay

Help fellow citizens know their rights regarding housing bills and utilities; many state and governments are mandating consumer ad citizen protections, and Minnesota is one of them. The following are resources for anyone being challenged on bills, housing, etc.:

Several Twin Cities Neighborhoods are collecting resources to share with each other - check out the following links for those:

Entertainment / Business

If you're a long-time Compendium reader than you know how close the arts and entertainment industry of Minnesota is to my heart. They are being deeply impacted by the ongoing crisis. Below are some ways you can support them (as well as creative programs being released to help take your mind off things).

Donate

If you had tickets to a show that closed or was postponed, please don't ask for refunds if you can help it. Every dollar that can stay in the theatrical community will help keep doors open and lights on once they are cleared to do so, and liquid cash is one of the resources most scarce for these organizations even in the best of times.

Donate to the Personal Emergency Relief Fund for artists hosted by Springboard for the Arts. This is going to be a very, very important pot of money as dozens of theaters are indefinitely closed during the height of their regular season programming, affecting hundreds of artists around the state. If you have any cash, please toss a little their way.

Otto Bremer Trust just established a $50 million fund to help organizations weather the crisis. Click here for more information.

Minnesota Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (MnVOAD) has a full listing of organizations cleared to accept hands-on volunteers; check out their detailed information if you want to get out of the house to help the community.

Watch / Distract Yourself

This article is a nice reminder that it's ok to prioritize mental health and unplug from the constant barrage of news about the virus. Take a walk, do some meditation, read a book and call it a day. It's ok to slow down at this time. I will continue adding a roundup of creative initiatives from arts and entertainment organizations below as well:

Locally Hosted Options


National / International Options



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