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How to help your Detroit neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic

Looking to get involved? Here’s where to start.

Two people wearing face masks place cases of bottled water from a van onto a dolly.
Volunteers unload donated bottled water in Detroit.
AP

One of the most important things Detroit residents can do to help one another during the novel coronavirus pandemic is to remain in their home to slow the spread of COVID-19.

But as we enter the pandemic’s second month, you may be feeling antsy or powerless. But there are plenty of ways to help your neighbors and get involved in your community’s efforts to fight COVID-19, and do so safely. Lots of organizations need additional manpower and resources right now, and have set up systems to make it easy for people to donate or volunteer.

“People are looking out for each other. We should salute that,” Sheila Cockrel, a former city council member and founder of CitizenDetroit, told Bridge Magazine. “The bonds in neighborhoods have been built on meeting crises and tragedies and coming through those together.”

Below are some ways you can assist, with money or time, in Detroit.

Check in on others

It’s essential that people adhere to six feet social distancing policies, otherwise you might be doing more harm than good. But there may be people on your street or in your neighborhood, especially the elderly or those with disabilities, that could use an extra hand. It could be for running errands or something as simple as bringing a package inside.

Staying connected with your neighbors can ensure that those who are struggling right now can access necessary resources. Signing up on Nextdoor or joining a neighborhood Facebook group is a simply way to plug into what’s happening locally.

Everyone should also join the Metro Detroit COVID-19 Support Facebook page, which currently has over 7,000 members and is a great source of information and mutual support.

If nothing else, spread this COVID-19 Michigan resource guide put together by the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions department to people in your network, as well as this one from the United Way of Southeastern Michigan about ways to be a good neighbor.

Volunteer

In addition to some of the above pages and groups, other sites that offer straightforward connections to volunteer opportunities include this guide by Belt Magazine and the Detour Detroit Facebook page. The State of Michigan has put together a handy page of ways to volunteer in certain fields, like helping senior citizens to donating blood.

The city of Detroit is looking for people to transport those unable to drive to its COVID-19 testing center at the State Fairgrounds. It’s also trying restore water to customers who have had their service shutoff. Organizations like We The People Of Detroit are conducting outreach and delivering water.

The Brightmoor Community Food Pantry in northwest Detroit is looking for volunteers (as well as donations) for food drops.

You can even volunteer from your home. Here’s a list of virtual opportunities, where you can do things like tutor or translate documents.

Donate

With millions out of work, so many organizations and individuals need money right now—it can be hard to know where to donate. But here are some options.

The United Way of Southeastern Michigan, in addition to its neighborhood guide, has launched a community response fund for its partner organizations. Gleaners Community Food Bank has suspended volunteer shifts, but is nonetheless looking for donations. A GoFundMe page was launched to help support undocumented families. Henry Ford Health System and TCF Bank created a $100,000 incentive match fund to aide healthcare workers.

Mitch Albom, Huntington Bank and Metro Solutions have partnered with the Detroit Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship to create a fund for arts and cultural workers impacted by coronavirus, and is looking to raise $50,000.

Eater Detroit has comprehensive lists for ways to contribute to the struggling food industry, whether it’s donating to unemployed service industry workers, feeding the homeless, or simply ordering from restaurants still doing delivery or take out.

This is just a fraction of the ways people can help in Detroit. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section and we’ll add it to the list.