How to donate time, skills and money to heroes on the front line


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Beyond the nightly windowsill clap, many of us are looking for meaningful ways to help. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of worthwhile nonprofits and grassroots initiatives. Whether you want to get creative or simply hand over a Jackson, we’ve got you covered.

CoronaMetro
As you’re coding in your pajamas or streaming classes online, your MetroCard is sitting idly in your wallet. Founded by Ashley Stinnett (pictured above) and her roommate Alexandra Mitrovich, CoronaMetro is a MetroCard exchange connecting essential workers in need of transportation to those looking to donate. Fill out a form and you’ll be connected to someone nearby (usually within 48 hours) to set up an exchange. So far, they’ve had 2,250 responses (and counting). CoronaMetro.com

Community Health Charities
Looking for ways to volunteer from home? Community Health Charities has a comprehensive volunteer portal with listings for online opportunities, as well as on-site possibilities. They also share supply wish lists on behalf of health charities. HealthCharities.org

Blo Blow Dry Bar
Treat them to a free blowout from North America’s largest blow-dry bar franchise. With every $50 gift card you buy for your next coiffure, the company will donate a blowout to a health-care worker. Here’s to the day when these devoted professionals can flaunt their locks as we cheer them on at the heroes parade they so deserve. BloMeDry.com

HeroX
Calling all coders, engineers, designers and other innovators. This crowd-sourcing platform focuses on fixing global problems. (It’s previously solved conundrums for NASA, Novartis and Boeing.) It has created a resource hub for coronavirus-related challenges, connecting innovators with opportunities to create life-saving technologies. Recent projects include MIT’s Beat the Pandemic Hackathon, the State of New York’s Tech SWAT Team and the Code Life Ventilator challenge. HeroX.com/Covid19

Operation Gratitude
Since 2003, this organization has bolstered the mood of the active military, veterans and first responders, delivering more than 2.5 million care packages. In response to the coronavirus, they’ve launched a virtual volunteerism campaign for individuals of any age and location to handwrite gratitude letters, make bracelets and “Handmade With Love” items for front-line responders. OperationGratitude.org

Raise
If you want to thank a specific essential worker (here’s to you, doorman Doug), discounted gift card marketplace Raise has a feature where you can schedule a gift card to be emailed to a recipient. Raise.com

Forward_Space
Help an essential worker dance away their stress as you do the same. The Soho-based dance studio just launched its virtual hub for online classes and is giving away 90-day memberships to essential workers for every membership purchased through June 1. Forward-Space.com

Dearest
Sponsor a personalized video tutoring session in STEM, literacy or numeracy for the child of an essential worker or teacher (up to 12 years old). Dearest is matching this promotion by covering all platform and operation costs along with credit card fees. Classes are led by New York City childhood educators. DearestCommunity.typeform.com/to/qC1agO

Common Impact’s Capacity Commons
By volunteering your skills to your community, you may not be helping front-line workers directly, but you’re indirectly making a difference by providing essential services to those in need.

“Nonprofits don’t have the time and resources to invest in their operations to begin with, let alone right now,” explains Danielle Holly, CEO of Common Impact, a nonprofit whose mission is to match corporations with non-profit organizations for skills-based volunteering. “Since the pandemic began, Common Impact has been transitioning its projects from in-person to virtual, with much success. Individuals and corporate teams that provide nonprofits with much-needed pro bono support at this crucial time can help them build resilience and capacity to better serve their communities in the coming months and years,” adds Holly.

To get involved, visit the Discover Volunteer Resources page on the Capacity Commons Web site to find a list of volunteer matching platforms, job boards, skills-based volunteering intermediaries, and other opportunities. For more volunteer matching platforms, Holly recommends NYC Service, New York Cares, Points of Light and VolunteerMatch, which help New Yorkers to support nonprofits, community organizations and schools across the five boroughs and beyond. CapacityCommons.org

Pajama Program
A national nonprofit organization that’s headquartered in NYC, their mission is to promote and support comforting bedtime routines for children. In this current crisis, they’re providing cozy kids’ pajamas and reading books to the children of essential workers. You can make a monetary contribution or donate a new book or pajamas. PajamaProgram.org

Project Dignity by COVID Tech Connect
With many nursing homes and hospitals closed to visitors, it’s a heartbreaking reality that many have perished without loved ones present. That’s where Project Dignity comes in. Launched by six women in tech, the GoFundMe project aims to raise $1 million to buy 10,000 tablets with video chat services pre-installed for hospitals and nursing homes in need. So far they’ve raised $196,970. GoFundMe.com/f/GivingDignity

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