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How Can We Help Our Communities During COVID-19?

Humanitarian Outreach

During these unprecedented times, the drive to help our communities is strong.  As we make decisions to contribute as individuals or as groups, it is imperative that we do so only while following CDC health safety guidelines, as well as federal, state, and local stay-at-home and social distancing orders.

You can assist your community while protecting your personal health and not jeopardizing the health of others.  If your decide to participate in any of the suggested humanitarian outreach efforts, we would love to hear about it! Please use this tracking spreadsheet to share details about your experiences.  

Food Banks

Many members of our local communities are struggling during this pandemic.  Supporting an established food bank in your region is a great way to take action.  Most food banks have temporarily paused traditional food drives but some have opportunities for volunteer groups to host their own virtual food drive.  This is a great opportunity to safely engage and impact your community while abiding by social distancing and local health orders.  

You can locate a food bank in your region via the Feeding America website, or support organizations like Save the Children, which is also engaging in efforts to get food to children affected by the pandemic.  

Equipment Donations

We all know the healthcare industry is experiencing dire shortages of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), which include gloves, masks, and protective goggles.  If you have unopened and unused PPE equipment, consider donating it to a facility in your region.

Get Us PPE is a volunteer driven online platform allowing users to connect with their local healthcare providers in need.  Each healthcare provider has instructions on how they can most efficiently and safely receive donations.   

If you have any unwanted ski goggles or masks, consider donating to Goggles for Docs.  They facilitate getting used or new goggles into the hands of healthcare workers who currently have limited or no eye protection.  

Sewing Masks for Donation

The CDC and American Hospital Association both recognize that some healthcare facilities are asking communities to sew masks to be utilized as a last resort due to the shortage of PPE.  In response to this, volunteer groups, organizations and individuals have started sewing and donating cloth masks for essential workers and healthcare providers.  

If you wish to sew and donate homemade masks, please visit the websites and social media accounts of your local hospitals and health systems to get their design specifications and comply with all guidelines including safe donation procedures.  

Get PPE and Mask Match are two online platforms facilitating donations of masks (including certain hand sewn masks) and additional personal protective equipment to requesting healthcare facilities.  

Red Cross 

The American Red Cross operates to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.  The organization currently has a variety of remote (work-from-home) volunteer opportunities available, where individuals can engage virtually.  

For individuals that wish to donate blood, platelets and plasma, the Red Cross is requiring appointments be made 14 days in advance to support social distancing efforts.  Before making an appointment, individuals should also visit the Red Cross website to review their donor eligibility requirements.  

Highlight Your Heroes

Let us not forget that many people in your network have careers outside of their volunteer work with Surfrider, in which many are first responders, law enforcement, manufacturers, distributors, grocery workers, transportation workers, and other critical infrastructure employees who continue to fulfill their roles in these essential positions. Consider highlighting an activist or someone on the front-lines, as they deserve the attention and thank yous!  Surfrider Foundation Headquarters would also be interested in highlighting these heroes so please send recommendations to your regional manager or fill out this spreadsheet

Wellness Checks

Consider reaching out to your elderly neighbor or adults who live alone for a check-in! Remember that limiting in-person contact is important, so reach out via phone, text or email.  You can also leave a treat, book or uplifting handwritten note on their doorstep!

Letters of Gratitude & Support

Write letters of gratitude and support for First Responders, Emergency Medical Personnel and Military on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic or share a message of support to nursing homes and assisted living residents. Operation Gratitude and Care Not COVID both facilitate virtual volunteer opportunities for individuals to share words of appreciation and encouragement.  

Please note: The activities outlined in this document are voluntary and participation is solely at a participant’s own risk.  Individuals should only engage in the undermentioned activities to the extent that an individual can comply with social distancing requirements and other applicable federal, state, and local rules and restrictions.  Individuals should only donate physical goods if the individual and everyone in their household is healthy and able to maintain social distancing. 

The Surfrider Foundation is not directly affiliated with and does not endorse organizations or groups referenced herein.  This document is solely meant to be a resource for individuals who may be interested in helping their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.  While the organizations referenced below may provide additional volunteer opportunities not mentioned in this document, the Surfrider Foundation does not advise that Surfrider, including Chapters, staff, and members, organize, engage, or participate in any activities which necessitate interacting face to face with other members of the public or physical donated goods from other individuals (for example, Surfrider advises against serving as a repository for donated goods, which would then be distributed to requesting parties), as these activities could put people at risk for getting sick.  The activities outlined below may be done virtually from home in accordance with social distancing and stay at home orders. Engagement with referenced organizations or groups is at an individual’s discretion and risk.