Most of us have never witnessed a moment in time like this. It leaves us wanting to connect with one another and be of support. Mr. Rogers always advised that in a crisis we should look for the helpers. Here are some ways you can join the growing league of helpers across our state.

Food Services
Experts say it will be quite a while before our economy is able to stabilize and start to rebound. In the meantime, food banks are seeing need unlike anything since the Great Depression of the 1930s. They are rising to the occasion but need our support. All are looking for financial contributions, and some are accepting food donations and volunteers. There are also ways to provide tasty treats for heroes on the front line. Here are some options.

FeedingAmerica.org takes online financial donations and distributes to food banks across America including several in both of our peninsulas. You can also find a food bank near you by entering your zip code.
FeedingtheFrontline has tips on how you can feed frontline workers in your own area, while also supporting local restaurants.
Foodpantries.org offers lists of Michigan pantries and can be searched by zip code to find one near you.
Forgotten Harvest serves Southeast Michigan, which has been hardest hit by COVID-19.
Girl Scouts have seen the places they typically sell cookies taken away (outside grocers, in offices, door to door, etc.) by the pandemic, jeopardizing their biggest fundraiser. Many of the troops have creatively started a win-win by selling cookies to be delivered as a treat to hospital workers, firefighters, police officers and other frontline workers. You can enter your zip code to buy cookies for heroes near you, and as an added bonus you’ll be supporting a local Girl Scout troop.
Gleaners has five distribution centers serving southeast Michigan: Detroit, Livingston, Oakland, Taylor, and Warren.
Little Caesars Pizza has created an option for people to donate food to the frontline while ordering food to feed their own family.

Volunteer
You may have some extra time on your hands, or you may just want to find a way to DO something to help during this pandemic crisis. Below are some ways to get involved.

Medical Volunteers  We may continue to be in need until we have the pandemic under control. The State of Michigan is asking potential volunteers with medical expertise to register online.
Public Health Volunteers If you are not a medical professional, but still have expertise in public health or community organizing, the State of Michigan is looking for you too.
Healthcare Students Those studying to become a part of the healthcare profession can be a great resource to over-worked medical facilities and also gain valuable experience.
Aging Services Volunteer The elderly are among the most vulnerable at this time. Even some, who are otherwise able-bodied are advised not to shop and perform errands. Volunteers are needed for wellness checks, packaging nutritious meals, delivering meals on wheels, lawncare, and other assistance.
Election Workers Election work is actually a paid position, but we have put it in this category because it is so important to the continuing functionality of our democracy and workers are desperately needed.
General Volunteer Opportunities Volunteer Michigan lists volunteer opportunities in a variety of capacities all around the state. Simply click the Volunteer Now button in the middle of the homepage to view opportunities the most recent needs and search for the type of opportunity best-suited to you.

Check on Others
Seek out friends and neighbors to see if they are feeling ok and need any assistance or emotional support. It’s a great time to introduce yourself to an elderly neighbor. Ask if there is anything that they need (be it a box of tissues or a cup of sugar). If you have what they’re looking for, offer to leave it outside their front door so that they can pick it up without coming in direct contact with you. If you are low risk and feel comfortable going out, consider knocking on the door of any elderly neighbors and chatting through the screen or storm door just to offer a bit of comfort and reassurance. Schedule regular calls or video chats with friends. If someone doesn’t seem quite like themselves during a session, follow-up with a one-on-one call later.

Donate Blood
With many of the people who typically donate (like first responders and healthcare workers) unable to donate blood due to exposure to the virus, blood donations are critical to keeping a stabile supply to serve the community. To adequately prepare and keep with social distancing and other healthy practices, most donor centers currently require appointments in advance. Contact the resources below to find a blood donation opportunity near you.

American Red Cross
UP Health System
Versiti Blood Center of Michigan

Share Your Talents
Calling all musicians, artists, dancers, yoga instructors, chefs, gardeners, etc. There are so many video platforms available now to connect with one another, and so many people looking for those connections. Now is the time to dip your toes or totally dive into those digital waters. Whether you want to make a video in advance, or broadcast live, there are now simple and free opportunities available to share what you can do with others. If you are planning an online performance or class in advance, let us know so we can help spread the word. Send an email to info@buymichigannowfest.com. Let us know the time and date (or a schedule if you plan more than one), what you intend to do and a link to where people will find it.

If you know of an opportunity to be of service that we should add to this list, let us know.

Author: BMN Staff