During this challenging time, we’re all searching for ways to lend a hand – safely. And while many organizations are not currently accepting items you’ve cleaned out of your closets, there are plenty of other ways to help. So whether you’re looking to volunteer your time or prefer to make a donation, here are some incredible groups that are working hard support Angelenos right now.

Support Local Food Banks and Pantries

Food instability is a difficult issue for many struggling families and as you can imagine, it’s even more so during a global pandemic. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is currently looking for both volunteers and monetary donations to purchase food supplies. Their website also features a food pantry locator if you’d prefer to reach out to specific food pantries in your neighborhood. Westside Food Bank is also currently seeking financial donations only (not donations of actual goods) to help keep operations running and food flowing to those who need it. The West Valley Food Pantry is looking for volunteers to help out, as well as donations of specific items. They’re also more than happy to accept any surplus of fruits and vegetables you may have from your trees or garden at home.

Meal Delivery for People in Need

LA’s senior citizens, as well as Angelenos who have serious underlying medical conditions are at especially high risk right now during the Covid-19 outbreak. So it’s an enormous help to get their meals delivered safely. Two special organizations are working tirelessly to keep things moving during this time. Project Angel Food prepares and delivers healthy meals to feed people impacted by life-threatening illnesses. They are looking for volunteers and monetary donations if you are interested in reaching out.

The LA chapter of Meals on Wheels delivers midday meals and supper to elderly and disabled citizens who are unable to prepare meals for themselves. They are currently looking for monetary donations to help support the Meals on Wheels Covid-19 Response Fund.

Teens Deliver Groceries to Seniors

If you have high school or college aged kids at home, volunteering with Zoomers to Boomers may be right up their alley! This amazing organization was founded in mid-march by an enterprising 17-year-old in Santa Barbara who was looking for a way to help out during the coronavirus outbreak. Zoomers to Boomers has now expanded to twelve cities and worldwide, and is entirely made up of young people who are looking to help their community by delivering groceries to the elderly and immunocompromised. Seniors simply email their shopping list to Zoomer to Boomer and pay for their groceries electronically. Then, a Zoomer provides an easy no contact delivery without charge a delivery fee or tip. Bravo!

Much-Needed Blood Donations

So Cal blood supplies are critically low at the moment due to coronavirus concerns and blood drive cancellations during the outbreak. However, it is still safe to donate and your help is greatly needed. The American Red Cross Los Angeles Region is currently scheduling drives throughout the city and it’s easier than ever to find one nearby.

The Southern California Blood Bank is also looking for donors and is currently taking appointments only, online. They are in particular need of O blood types.

Foster a Furry Friend

If you’ve been thinking about whether a dog or cat might be a good fit for your family, now is the perfect time to test the waters by fostering a pet. Local animal shelters are seeking caring families to foster pets during Safer at Home orders and beyond. Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles has a great list of local shelters and groups who could really use you some extra help with pet parenting right now.

photo: Jennifer O'Brien

Other Homemade Ways to Help

Here are some additional heartfelt ways you and your little ones can help make this time a little easier for others:

– Create greeting cards for elderly neighbors and leave them in their mailbox, or send a handful to local nursing homes in your area.
– Offer to pick up a few items for older neighbors when you're making an essential run to the grocery store or drug store.
– Use sidewalk chalk to write hopeful messages that will brighten your neighbor's day or to say thank you to essential workers.
– Encourage your block to step outside at the same time every evening to applaud all of the medical workers who are going above and beyond right now.

Once It’s Safe to Donate Items Again

With so many of us organizing our kids’ closets right now, it’s no doubt you'll come across a few treasures you’d like to donate to children’s organizations around town. While most places are not accepting donations of goods at the moment, here are some wonderful places to keep in mind once things start to reopen:

Baby2 Baby

Harvest Home

Children’s Institute, Inc.

DPSS Department of Social Services Toy Loan

Good + Foundation

San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission

Goodwill Southern California

NCJW-LA (National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles)

The Salvation Army – California South Division

Upward Bound House

Topanga Women’s Circle

MEND (Meet Each with Dignity)

–Jennifer O’Brien

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