It’s a time of uncertainty for many across the country, including right here in the OKC metro. Times of uncertainty can create a sense of helplessness. This guide is written to provide you and your family with some ways to turn that helplessness into helpfulness to your local non-profit agencies (NPOs) and their clients that have, or will be, impacted. With the recent national, state, and local community closures, vulnerable populations and the non-profit organizations (NPOs) that provide services in the community are experiencing an increasing need for community assistance.
Reach Out to the Elderly
Nursing homes around our community, some of which are run by non-profit agencies, have recently limited or eliminated visitations. Some have placed limitations on group/social activities. This can become a lonely time for residents. It can also place additional burdens on staff. Make a complete stranger’s day and send them handmade greeting cards or letters. To avoid putting residents/staff at risk with mailed cards, take a photo of your kid’s cards/letters. Find a nursing home or assisted living facility in your community and give them a call. Ask if they have an Activity Director and if so, would they be willing to print out the emailed photos of cards/letters made by your kids.
Donate Needed Items
Business and school closures may mean a reduction or even loss of income for some families. This creates an increase in demand for safety-net services that NPOs provide. NPOs may not have the capacity to meet the unexpected increase in demand. You can help by donating much-needed items.
School and business closures create a domino effect that will increase the likelihood that families will experience food insecurity. This, in turn, increases demand for food donations. Skyler Parker, Director of the Moore Food & Resource Center—a part of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma network—shared with me these donation suggestions: high protein and/or ready to eat meals that don’t need to be refrigerated, canned meats (chicken, tuna, etc), peanut butter and any other unopened, non-perishable food items. He stated that the Regional Food Bank also accepts toiletries (including toilet paper) as donations. For a list of of food pantries in the OKC metro to reach out to to offer food donations, go to foodpantries.org.
Child & Family Service Organizations
Angels Foster Family Network
By donating new items, such as diapers, clothing, baby toiletries, etc, you can help foster families with basic essentials for their foster care placements.
Infant Crisis Services
Located in Oklahoma City, this organization provides diapers, formula, baby and toddler food, blankets, clothing and other basic necessities to families.
The Homeless Alliance operates several housing programs for families with children, coordinates a community effort to house veterans and people who are chronically homeless. Current donation needs include: hand sanitizer in ALL sizes, latex gloves, masks, bleach wipes, Lysol, toilet paper, bottled water, tissue, ponchos, thermometers (preferably non-contact), over-the-counter medications for cold, flu, allergies, pain. Other items that are needed can be found on the Homeless Alliance Amazon Wishlist.
American Red Cross
With large-scale community blood drives being canceled, there is an increased need for eligible and healthy individual blood donors to prevent shortages.
Community crises often put the most vulnerable members of our communities (e.g. the elderly, the hungry and the homeless) at even greater risk and in need of more help. Donating to NPOs that provide that help is another great option. According to Mr. Parker, financial donations allow organizations to purchase or replenish goods in ways that are most cost-effective and beneficial to the individuals and families that they serve. Consider increasing your level of support to NPOs that you already support. If you don’t already financially support any organizations, you can search here to find a safety net NPO to support.
Volunteer Your Time
In the event that employees or regular volunteers are affected, NPOs may experience gaps in their ability to provide services. Healthy, low-risk individuals can be vital to filling those gaps. For example, food banks could use help with tasks such as sorting and shelving food donations or packing meals. For volunteer opportunities in the OKC metro go here. Be sure to contact the organization to find out if they are accepting volunteers at this time.