Coronavirus in Columbus: How to Help

Suzanne Goldsmith
Sue Darby unloads donated food from the Southside Roots Cafe at the downtown YMCA.

With time on their hands and a crisis all around, many people want to help. “People feel good about giving,” says the Rev. John Edgar of Community Development for All People. “If we simply stay home in an atmosphere of fear and wall ourselves off, that’s not good for any of us.” Yet volunteering during a pandemic presents a problem: How do you help out while staying safe? The agencies referenced in an accompanying Columbus Monthly story shared some ideas.

Information is critical. Read our latest reporting on the coronavirus response here.

At LifeCare Alliance, a big increase in home meal delivery has increased the need for volunteers, who are now being permitted to knock and leave meals at the door rather than entering homes.

Tony Collins, president and CEO of the YMCA, says that while volunteers are welcomed, cash donations and continued membership dues—even from those who can’t access the gyms and daycare programs their dues normally pay for—are desperately needed. “Nonprofits are struggling,” he says.

Other nonprofit leaders echo Collins’ plea. An infusion of 100 National Guard members, detailed to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank in late March, allowed the agency to pause volunteer programming for a week, but opportunities to help, with social distancing, are again available. Cash donations are also critically needed, says Matt Habash, president of the food bank.

Goodwill Columbus is funded in part through the sale of donated clothing and goods, and while the stores are currently closed, the agency is still accepting donations during business hours only, through drop-off bins at staffed locations.

Huckleberry House is in need of hand sanitizer and other hygiene and cleaning supplies, as well as cash donations. For a personal touch, young people in crisis appreciate letters of support, says Sonya Thesing. Send a card to the address on the agency’s website and mark it “Attention: Youth.”

The United Way of Central Ohio is seeking donations to help address critical gaps in resources at more than 80 local nonprofits during the COVID-19 crisis. Make a contribution at

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