In these borderline-apocalyptic times, it's easy to feel helpless, especially when you're cooped up inside all day with nothing to do but let your mind wander. But the fact is, there are real, tangible ways you can make Miami a better place as we battle the spread of coronavirus. And you don't have to be a millionaire to make an impact — it could be as simple as running an errand for a homebound senior or writing a letter to a frightened immigrant locked up in a detention facility.
That said, if you happen to be a millionaire, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to ball out. Make it rain on local charities! Do your part. Be, as Fred Rogers would say, a helper.
Here's a list of ways you — yes, you — can help your neighbors survive these next few days, weeks, and months. Don't see your cause on our list? Email New Times to provide detailed information about how the community can help.
If you want to give money
Donate to the United Way's local recovery fund. Not sure where to begin? The United Way and the Miami Herald have created the Miami Pandemic Response Fund, which will support a variety of hyperlocal causes by directing aid to where it's most needed — everything from rent assistance to utility bills to grocery money to small-business loans. Donations can be made online, by phone, or through Venmo and PayPal.
Buy a meal for a hungry family. Food insecurity is a very real problem for many locals right now. Thankfully, the Miami area offers many food banks. Farm Share, which is providing fresh produce and other food for Miami-Dade schoolchildren and their families, says it can translate each dollar donated into 14 pounds of food. Donations can be made online or by texting EAT to 41-444.
Another organization in need of your support is Feeding South Florida. Although it continues to accept edible donations, the food bank says monetary contributions gives its organizers "the most flexibility to respond rapidly to food, logistics, staffing, and supply needs." Donations can be made online.
In lieu of its usual hot meals, the Homestead Soup Kitchen is serving bagged lunches — no questions asked — from noon to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Monetary donations can be made online.
Help the Miami Diaper Bank. Despite the uncertainty, the world continues to turn, and babies still need diapers. Under normal circumstances, the Miami Diaper Bank — founded in 2013 by a middle-school student — takes both monetary and diaper donations to serve low-income and homeless children. But in this emergency situation, the nonprofit is asking for cash contributions only because it has access to bulk pricing — meaning it can stretch your dollars while limiting the number of people touching the diapers. To chip in, visit miamidiaperbank.com/donate.
Give the gift of a phone call. In-person visitation has been temporarily canceled at immigrant detention facilities across the nation, isolating people who have already been separated from their families. The local nonprofit advocacy group Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees is raising money to help detainees pay for phone calls, which can cost up to 45 cents per minute in Florida. Pitch in at fomdd.org/donate.
Support Florida journalists. The Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has launched the Hand Up Fund to help reporters, photographers, editors, and other journalists who have been laid off because of shrinking ad revenues. Donations can be made via PayPal, Zelle, or Venmo.
If you want to help in another way
Give blood. Blood banks are facing a dire shortage because people have stopped donating. But federal health officials say it's perfectly fine to donate blood if you would otherwise do so. The Federal Drug Administration says there have been no reported or suspected cases of coronavirus transmission related to blood transfusions, and the novel coronavirus is not considered a risk to anyone receiving blood. OneBlood, a nonprofit bank that services hospitals across Florida, is offering all donors a $20 gift card through March 31. Visit OneBlood's website to find a donation site in your area.
Pick up groceries for someone who needs them. These are bleak times for anyone who was already homebound, as well as seniors and the immunocompromised. If you're confidently healthy, why not do something to bring a smile to someone's face? Miamians Kristin Guerin and Jessica Guttierez have started a volunteer delivery service for those who need an extra hand. If you're up for the challenge — or in need of help yourself — email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Foster a new pet. Several local animal shelters and rescue organizations could use more helpers. Think you might make a good dog parent? Paws4You is looking for folks who can take care of one of its pups.
Bullies-N-Beyond, a rescue organization that works to find homes for so-called bully breeds such as pit bulls and American bulldogs, is also looking for people to foster its dogs. Contact the group on Facebook or Instagram if you're interested in helping or, alternatively, if you're in need of dog food or assistance with an abandoned pup. (And, no, it doesn't have to be a bully breed.)
Is a low-maintenance cat more your speed? Lady Luck Animal Rescue has plenty of felines (and also some dogs) waiting for foster parents. Interested parties can fill out an application online.
Staying at home? Pets' Broward, which is collaborating with Broward County Animal Care and Adoption, says it is doing local deliveries of foster pets. Call 954-359-1313 or email email@example.com for more information.
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Become a pen pal. Remember what it was like to write a letter and stick it in the mail? The nonprofit Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees is recruiting pen pals for immigrant detainees who could use cheering up right now. If that sounds like a good afternoon project, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started. Letter-writers can send well wishes in English, Spanish, Kreyol, or French.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food center. Farm Share is looking for volunteers who are in good health (to avoid the spread of infection). Interested? Email email@example.com with your contact information.
Feeding South Florida, a Pembroke Park-based food bank, is also recruiting volunteers. Find more details at feedingsouthflorida.org/volunteer.
Looking for ideas on how to help Miami's hospitality workers? We've got that covered, too.