A generous spirit this holiday season did not end with Giving Tuesday at the start of December. There are plenty of ways to help a neighbor in need all month long through your time, talent and treasure – and do it safely.
When reaching out to your local community service organizations to get involved, be sure to ask about their safety precautions in advance. When working with volunteers, most abide by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, which include the 3 W’s: Wear your mask, watch your distance and wash your hands. Of course, be sure to stay home if you feel sick, show signs of illness or have been in recent contact with ill people.
“The best way to stay safe is to social distance, avoid unnecessary contact with members outside of your household, wear a mask, and wash your hands regularly,” says Brittany Goodrich-Braun, MD, family medicine specialist at Partnership Community Health Center, a Be Safe Wisconsin Partner.
SAFE WAYS TO GIVE TO BE SAFE WISCONSIN PARTNERS
Here are some suggestions from 10 Be Safe Wisconsin partners who can use your help this holiday season, mostly from home. While all our nonprofit partners welcome monetary donations, they also have other needs that can be met virtually or in contactless ways.
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley is asking for your help as they work to continue bettering the lives of the children and teens they serve during the pandemic and beyond. “We can bring hope to our children by simply choosing to be there for one another,” says CEO Greg Lemke-Rochon. The organization is currently serving youth in a variety of ways – including in-person programming and support with virtual learning at all nine of their locations, virtual family nights for grieving children, telehealth counseling sessions, and additional youth assistance through the Club’s STAR, Home Base, and TRAC programs. Daily and weekly meal pickups also are available to families in need, in addition to the meals and snacks provided for youth attending Club. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 86,800 meals have been distributed to hungry youth throughout the Fox Valley. Great futures are possible for the more than 15,000 youth the Club serves because of the generosity of donors. Donate here.
Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region has teamed up with United Way Fox Cities to establish the COVID-19 Community Response Fund. The website states, “The fund supports local nonprofit and other community organizations engaging in immediate basic needs relief, short-term response, and longer-term recovery in Outagamie, Calumet, Shawano, Waupaca and the Neenah-Menasha area of Winnebago counties impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.” For those who can give monetarily, you can do so with a simple click.
Compassionate Home Health Care is requesting Wisconsinites collect some goods for neighbors in need.
- Personal Care Items: Hand soap, bar soap, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoo
- Cleaning Supplies: Paper towels, surface cleaners, sponges, laundry soap and garbage bags
The items can be dropped off at the organization’s warehouse. Compassionate Home Health Care’s CEO Dawn Paradiso-Hansen says, “The goal of the annual Holiday Giving Campaign is to support community members who struggle to purchase household essentials. We want these individuals and their families to have a cleaner and healthier holiday season and start to the New Year.”
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin has discouraged community food drives through the pandemic but offers avirtual food or fund drive called Online Harvest. Fund drives encourage you reach out to your network to raise money and food drives have you purchase online the most needed food items. The food then is delivered directly to the Feeding America warehouse. “It’s the easiest way to help end hunger in Eastern Wisconsin,” says Dustin Herrmann, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator for the organization. “These efforts enable us to feed more people more efficiently.” In addition, volunteers also are needed to drive food replenishment loads from the Fox Cities to Milwaukee and back, as well as sort and stock prepared, donated food for distribution. The CDC’s “Considerations for Food Pantries and Food Distribution Sites” Volunteer Safety section suggests volunteers wear masks and disposable gloves while on-site “since they may be exchanging or handling products from other people, unclean produce, or sharp edges on product packages.”
Fox Valley Veterans Council (FVVC) is encouraging Wisconsinites to contribute to its Veterans Emergency Fund, which provides for basic needs to area veterans, those still serving, their dependents, and survivors affected by COVID-19. Be sure to hit the “take action” button to help those in need of emergency financial assistance in Outagamie County, Northern Winnebago County and Northern Calumet County. The funds go toward housing, utility payments, clothing, food, transportation and other high priority needs, and are paid directly to creditors. “The area serves more than 40,000 veterans,” says Maj. James Strong of the FVVC. “Year-end funds will help prepare for the next year’s expected increase in requests due to the end of moratoriums on evictions and loss of revenue due to cancellation of major fundraising events.”
Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin (NCW) looks for donations of any kind to support its job-training opportunities. They can be made in the form of online contributions and in-store purchases. In-kind giving also in an option: clothes, household items, furniture and more with contactless drop-off at your local Goodwill store. Here are some suggestions on what to donate. “We have experienced an increase in individuals needing services and are pressing ahead to meet those needs, but we need donations from the community to do so,” says Chris Hess, president and CEO of Goodwill NCW. Most of Goodwill’s revenue is generated through the sale of donations. For shoppers seeking affordable gifts this Christmas season, Goodwill has put in place in-store guidelines. The organization also offers online shopping. At its Waupaca location, customers have an eStore with curbside pickup available.
Mosaic Family Health Clinic/Fox Valley Medical Residency Program has in-kind donation needs. They are looking for Wisconsinites to make and donate cloth face masks. “Despite the hope that COVID vaccinations bring in helping us feel healthy and safe again, we will need to continue to mask-up to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” warns Lee Vogel, MD, executive director of Mosaic Family Health.
Rebuilding Together Fox Valley needs handymen/women or skilled tradespeople to volunteer for everyday home repairs for its year-round Safe and Healthy Housing program, which provides home safety modifications and repairs to help in the prevention of falls and create an accessible home. “The need for critical home repairs, many of which have a profound impact on the health and safety of those we serve, does not go away during a pandemic,” says Executive Director Chip Wood. “Our homeowners are depending on us more than ever.” As the group remains focused on serving others in need, they are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. Volunteers are given personal protective equipment and group sizes will be limited for each project to maintain social distancing practices.
The Community Blood Center is looking for donors. “Blood donation is an essential service,” says CEO John Hagins. It is needed for chemotherapy patients and emergency surgery. “We continue to rely on volunteer blood donors in this pandemic. There simply is no substitute.” If COVID-19 antibodies are detected in your blood, consider donating convalescent plasma, which can be used to potentially treat patients with severe cases of the coronavirus. Safety measures are taken at all locations. Masks and/or face shields are required by all employees. Donors are also asked to wear a mask while donating.
United Way Fox Cities has created the “Give Help • Get Help Hub” where you can find ways to give. In the Give Helpsection, the site includes a link to search opportunities through Volunteer Fox Cities. Volunteer opportunities range from raising service-dog puppies to researching resources for families in need—all which can be done from home. You can also find opportunities to donate supplies to meet organizations’ in-kind needs. “There are numerous mental, physical, emotional, and social benefits to giving back to the community,” notes Susan Perri, vice president of Marketing & Communication at United Way Fox Cities. “Those who make giving a regular part of their lives know it to be true: It is better to give than to receive.” ‘Tis the season to do so.
If you have no more to give in 2020, perhaps make a New Year’s resolution to contribute to the community in 2021. Plenty of need will remain well into the next year, as will the need to stay safe in doing so.