How to help: Support your neighbors through the coronavirus pandemic

How to help: Support your neighbors through the coronavirus pandemic
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This story is made possible by Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority – our partner in supporting the city.

Who are we in a crisis? We’re learning that about ourselves — and about our city — right now.

Coronavirus, both the illness and the ensuing economic fallout, won’t affect everyone equally. Some, due to health, age, profession, or economic status, will suffer more than others. Yet the solution relies upon all of us. It’ll require self-sacrifice and, if we’re able, generosity.

Here are some organizations who are helping others — the elderly, the homeless, children, domestic violence victims, animals, and more — and ways we can help, too.

Let’s look back upon this time and be proud of who we were as individuals, and who we were as a city. Take care of each other, Charlotte.


Support children during school closures:

About 20 percent of children in Mecklenburg County don’t have reliable access to food, and thousands of low-income children rely on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for a free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch. No school? No breakfast or lunch. Starting March 17, CMS will offer grab-and-go lunches at more than 70 schools in the area, focusing on those with the most students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. In addition, community groups and local restaurants are stepping in to feed children while schools are closed. Support their work:

  • Christopher Sottile of The Loyalist Market in Matthews has partnered with local food businesses to create meals for children who received free lunches at school. Support his lunch project to feed about 700 children a day for two weeks, as well as the people who prepare those meals: skilled food professionals whose hours have been cut.
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina assembles boxes of food for school children affected by school closures, as well as seniors at home and others who are affected by closures. A $25 donation will cover the costs of seven days of nutritionally balanced food. You can also sign up to volunteer.
  • Black Fathers Rock collects food for food-insecure children in Charlotte while schools are closed. They’ve already helped students at Hornets Nest Elementary and Movement School, and they’ve given bags of groceries to a single parent of six children. Help them feed more children with a financial donation.
  • ourBRIDGE is an afterschool program for immigrant and refugee children where kids get help with homework, have fun, and enjoy a healthy dinner. They’re closed while schools are, but still supporting families with care packages of food, toys, books, hand sanitizer, and more. Donate online, or drop off goods at their center at 3925 Willard Farrow Drive.

Feed your neighbors:

  • Friendship Trays delivers food to the elderly and infirm, who need their services more than ever. The group is in need of canned goods—tuna, chicken, fruit, soup—as well as coolers. Have extras? Deliver them to their facility at 2401 Distribution Street.
  • Loaves and Fishes gives groceries to families and individuals who are in the midst of crisis. While more people are in crisis, fewer people have been able to volunteer here. You can donate financially, volunteer to sort food in their warehouse, or deliver groceries to people in need.
  • The Bulb, a mobile produce stand, supplies food-insecure neighborhoods with nutritious produce. During the outbreak, they deliver food directly to our immunocompromised neighbors. Support them by buying items on their Amazon Wish List.

Help those in crisis:

  • Room In The Inn, which shelters and feeds the homeless at area churches, closed two weeks early due to social distancing concerns. That means that Urban Ministry needs to shelter and feed even more individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Urban Ministry’s current priorities are food and supplies. Support the cause: drop off pre-packaged food, over-the-counter medicines, toothbrushes, and more at Urban Ministry’s facility at 945 North College Street or donate through their Amazon Wish List.
  • People who experience domestic violence face increased risk while families are confined indoors. Safe Alliance, which gives victims of domestic violence and sexual assault a safe place to stay, is preparing for an emergency response. If the shelter fills, they’ll place victims in hotels. Support their mission with a financial contribution, or with donations of cleaning and sanitation supplies dropped at their uptown center (601 E. 5th Street, Suite 400). If you or a loved one needs help, call 911 in an emergency or call the Greater Charlotte Hope Line at 980-771-HOPE.
  • Crisis Assistance Ministry offers support to those experiencing poverty. Due to lost wages created by cancelled events, closed businesses, and unpaid sick time, we have more neighbors who will need our help. To help, donate clothes and small household goods at their donation drive-thru or by donating larger items (furniture, mattresses, appliances) at their Furniture Bank.

Give blood

Almost 600 blood drives around the country have been cancelled due to social distancing concerns, and the Red Cross anticipates a blood shortage.

Donating blood at a Red Cross Blood Donation Center (in Dilworth or Huntersville) is easy and safe: They take donors’ temperature upon entering to screen for illness, and they have hand sanitizer everywhere. And hey, free cookies when you’re done. It’s the rare opportunity for those of us who skipped med school to help healthcare providers save lives. Set up a donation time.

zuri adopt a dog cat

Foster (or adopt) a shelter dog or cat:

Animal shelters are filling quickly. Few people adopt pets during a crisis, and many adoption events have been cancelled. Yet strays and owner-surrendered pets continue to arrive.

Create space in shelters by fostering a cat or dog. While you work from home, your guest will remind you to enjoy a break, take a walk, and share a snuggle. Sage advice. Find a furry friend at a local organization:

Support local restaurants AND social distancing

Don’t go to a packed bar and call it brave; practice social distancing and consider it kind.

Several restaurants — like Sir Edmond Halley’s, Dish, Carpe Diem, and Sweet Lew’s — have limited their seating capacity to allow guests to adhere to CDC recommendations.

Others unveil new services to protect customers:

Check social media for updates on your favorite places – new services roll out constantly. Please tip generously to support those whose wages depend upon them.

A growing list of restaurants and bars have decided to temporarily close in response. You can support those places by buying a gift card if available, or by returning in droves once they reopen in a couple weeks or months.

Support local artists and authors

Did you miss a concert, exhibit, reading, or performance due to a cancellation? Buy merchandise, books, and albums to support your favorite local artists and authors who take a financial hit during these cancellations. Support your local venues, shops, and arts organizations with a gift card purchase.

Be community-minded

  • Please don’t hoard. If you stocked obsessively, forgive yourself — you were stressed! — then donate your extras.
  • Be nice to grocery cashiers and clerks, even when the shelves are empty, or especially when the shelves are empty.
  • Call elderly neighbors and ask if they need a hand or a food delivery.
  • Wave a thank-you to those who pick up your trash, deliver your mail, and everyone who keeps our town running at their personal risk.
  • Practice social distancing (3-6 feet between people), even if that means sacrificing plans.

Be nice to you, too. If you need help, reach out for it. If we do this community thing well, the support will flow right back to you.

Agenda related coronavirus coverage: current status of coronavirus in Charlotte, here’s what employers are doing, latest on school closings, grocery stores’ status, and response from restaurants.

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