• 50°

Editorial roundup: How Minnesotans can help their neighbors survive pandemic

We need to pull together now to aid our neighbors who are most in need.

Some Minnesotans are visiting nursing home residents from outside through their windows. Others are organizing singalongs at safe distances and online to emphasize a sense of community and raise spirits. Still more caring souls are delivering food and supplies to the most vulnerable.

Those are among the ways people are helping one another during the COVID-19 crisis. And there are dozens of other ways to help others, even while following directives to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing.

People who can maintain their incomes by working at home can use their consumer power through online buying as well as picking up or receiving deliveries from restaurants and other businesses that are trying to keep serving customers.

Minnesotans can support local food banks by making direct donations. As Americans empty store shelves of nonperishables, unnecessary stockpiling has led to decreased donations, according to leaders of Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs nationwide. The organization has established a COVID-19 response fund and is working to build an inventory of emergency food boxes to distribute to food banks.

Arts organizations are also suffering, and you can help by patronizing them electronically, making donations and buying tickets for future events.

If you’re healthy, mobile and in a low-risk group, volunteers are needed to shop and deliver food and other supplies to those most vulnerable. Volunteers can be on-call to organizations such as Meals on Wheels to make deliveries during the outbreak.

The Nextdoor neighborhood information-sharing service has young volunteers willing to help others. And MNcovidsitters is a group of medical students who are offering babysitting services to health care workers on the front lines of patient care.

School districts, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, are continuing to provide meals for children and families who depend on food that is usually served at school. Inquire about ways to support those efforts.

Another way to help: Donate blood. The American Red Cross is urging healthy people who are feeling well to donate blood or platelets. As fears of the coronavirus rise, low donor rates could reduce blood availability to treat the sick.

And at a time when “stay at home” is the mantra, it’s important to support those who have no place to call home. The homeless face a significantly higher risk from COVID-19. They have poorer health in general and are often uninsured.

As Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis President Tim Marx points out, shelter and service providers such as Dorothy Day Center cannot work from home or shut down centers. Required social distancing is nearly impossible to achieve in settings that have shared facilities for the homeless. That puts already vulnerable people, those who serve them and the general population at greater risk. They need state and federal government aid as well as community support.

The organizations and sites listed here are just a handful of the many that Minnesotans can support in this time of need. By pulling together now, we can make a difference.

 

— Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 20