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Join Point and Besa
Just as efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 were causing suffering across the city, wary residents were choosing to stay safe at home rather than volunteer to help. Volunteer requests from food pantries, typically staffed by older volunteers who are at greater risk for the coronavirus, have quadrupled since March, says Madison Mikhail Bush, founder of the Columbus-based Point app. So Point launched its OVERCOVID campaign, including amusing videos (tagline: “Welcome to your first pandemic. Now let’s do something about it.”) to encourage younger folks to mask up and help.
Besa partners with companies and nonprofits to increase volunteerism and civic engagement. Founder Matthew Goldstein says Besa saw a 75 percent decline in volunteers in March, but as information became available about how to prevent infection, volunteer participation began to climb again. Now, Goldstein says, “We’ve never been busier.” Sixty percent of Besa’s volunteer assignments since March have involved fighting hunger. The organization has also embraced the cause of racial justice, organizing an outdoor summer movie series and panel discussions on the subject, and partnering with TEDx-King-LincolnBronzeville to provide the volunteers needed to move the event outdoors. —Suzanne GoldsmithColumbus Fall Fun How to make the best of an autumn unlike any before.
OK, sticking a needle in your arm isn’t exactly “fun.” But donating blood is a selfless act that offers its own unique form of satisfaction, especially when medical institutions across the country are reporting shortages. The American Red Cross and other donation centers are always looking for help, of course, but the need has increased in recent months as the spread of COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of blood drives and created new, stricter protocols that have discouraged donations. To find a blood drive, head to redcross.org, which listed 10 ongoing blood drives in the Columbus area in early September. Blood donation centers are now also screening for COVID-19 upon donation, as a precaution to prevent a sick donor from spreading the virus. —Sophia Englehart