Updated April 16, 3:15 p.m.
With millions of Californians newly unemployed due to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, local safety net services are being pushed to the brink. Many servers and bartenders are out of work, as are performing artists, substitute teachers and lots of other people who cannot perform their duties remotely.
And many of California’s essential workers who are still on the job are likely to be hit hardest by the epidemic. Families that were barely making ends meet before the virus hit are finding themselves in tough situations. Health professionals and grocery store employees are risking exposure every day.
From where to find housing to how to support restaurant workers, here’s a one-stop shop for donating, volunteering, and finding help, during COVID-19.
Please note, needs are constantly evolving. Please contact a group to clarify what will be helpful before you donate time or items. See something we should add? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn how to help:
- People in the food and drink industry
- Seniors and medically fragile individuals
- The food insecure
- People who are homeless or housing-insecure
- People affected economically
- Health workers and other essential employees
- Dogs and cats
A handful of Sacramento chefs have come up with a plan to make affordable meals for low-income residents while also keeping restaurant workers employed. The restaurants will produce $20 meal boxes containing four meals, with the option to add a grocery bag for $10. Here’s where you can donate to the involved restaurants.
Sacramento Virtual Tip Jar
This spreadsheet allows service industry employees to post their Venmo or PayPal information so that customers and community members can continue to support them. Want to give someone a tip? Visit here.
California Restaurant Association Foundation
This industry group has an established emergency assistance fund called Restaurants Care that it uses to bevy restaurant workers in times of crisis, such as during natural disasters. Go here to put money toward food, child care or housing for a restaurant worker, or here to apply for aid.
- Supporting Bar Industry Workers Nationally
- CORE: Children of Restaurant Employees
- United States Bartenders’ Guild National Charity Foundation
Meals On Wheels
This meal delivery group is asking for donations to help meet a recent surge in demand. If you know a local senior who needs meals delivered, or if you want to volunteer as a delivery person, call your local Meals On Wheels agency.
Safe and Free Deliveries
Shaper Hands mobilizes Sacramento volunteers to bring groceries and supplies to community members at high risk for COVID-19. You can sign up to do the shopping or request a delivery here.
This nonprofit provides services to more than 400 low-income housing communities across the state, with an emphasis on seniors and families. During the pandemic, they’re looking for help distributing food within affordable apartment communities. To volunteer in the Sacramento area, call (916) 548-5406. To donate to the national organization, go here.
This organization provides comfort to chronically ill seniors in Sacramento and El Dorado counties. They’re asking healthy individuals to help by writing cheerful letters for their residents. Find information on that here, and learn how to donate to Snowline here.
This Sacramento nonprofit group, based in the Meadowview neighborhood, prepares fresh, healthy to-go meals for low-income community members. Donate here or order meals by calling (916) 295-1884.
Food Banks, Pantries and Kitchens
Many food banks and pantries rely on a volunteer workforce partially made up of seniors. Now, some agencies are looking for younger people to step in. Find your nearest food bank in this directory and ask about volunteer options. You can also donate to help food banks continue their mission.
If you are seeking food, use this site to find lists of pantries, food lockers and soup kitchens in the Sacramento area. Find basic information about assistance programs such as CalFresh and WIC here.
Associated Students Inc. at Sacramento State
This group runs a food pantry and can connect students to emergency housing, the Student Emergency Fund and free legal aid. Students can find a list of food, financial and housing resources here. You can financially support the food pantry here.
95820 Food Project
Residents of the Land Park, Oak Park, Tahoe Park and Colonial Heights neighborhoods can use this form to volunteer to deliver groceries to high-risk residents and distribute food at neighborhood events.
Sacramento Homeless Union
This group is collecting food, clothing and outdoor supplies for people who are unhoused during the pandemic. Fill out this form to arrange a donation.
Sacramento Steps Forward
This nonprofit group is working with the Sacramento County Public Health Department to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness during COVID-19. You can support their work here. This is also a place to request help if you’re struggling with housing insecurity.
United Way COVID-19 Local Relief Fund
This fund will help provide a one-time $500 allocation to low-income families in Sacramento, Amador, El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties. Once selected, families will also receive help achieving financial stability. Nonprofit groups including the Black Child Legacy Campaign, Birth and Beyond, International Rescue Committee and Opening Doors will select and approve the recipients. Donations can be made here.
At this site, you can choose to donate to families, small businesses, homeless individuals, nonprofits or all of the above.
Sacramento Region Disaster Relief Fund
Donations to the Sacramento Region Community Foundation help this grantmaking organization support dozens of nonprofits in their day-to-day work serving low-income families.
This coalition of companies and foundations is set up to help workers displaced by COVID-19 get back on their feet as soon as possible. Find help with life essentials and employment guidance here. You can also post a job or a resource.
NorCal Resist Asylum Seeking and Undocumented Family Emergency Aid
This fund helps families in Placer, Yolo and Sacramento counties with rent, groceries, school supplies, transportation, legal aid or medical bills. Learn more and donate here. This group is also collecting non-perishable food donations through Cafe Barrio at 1188 35th Ave, Sacramento. To request aid, email NorCalResist@gmail.com or call (916) 382-0256.
- One Fair Wage Emergency Fund
- National Day Laborers Organizing Network
- COVID-19 Emergency Financial Relief Program (veterans)
You can also find volunteer opportunities or list your organization as a resource through the Vomo Be A Neighbor campaign.
The Mask Project
This group is collecting crowd funding to purchase and deliver medical masks to hospitals. Find more information here.
Keep Healthcare Workers Safe Fund
The Sacramento Area COVID-19 Mask Makers launched this GoFundMe to help local sewers buy fabric, thread and binding. They plan to make 2,500 masks for local hospitals, clinics and nursing care facilities as well as for police officers, fire workers and those who care for the homeless. They are also looking for more people to sew. Get involved by visiting their Facebook page.
Medical supply donations
Many hospitals across the region are taking masks, smocks and other supplies to protect their staff in the event of a COVID-19 patient surge. Find out what you can donate, and how to do it, here.
RVs for MDs
A Facebook group called RVs for MDs is asking people with RVs or other mobile housing options to temporarily donate them to health workers who are living alone to protect their families from COVID-19. If you have an RV to donate, or you’re a medical professional looking for one to live in, fill out this form.
Operation Shields Up
This Rocklin-based group is 3D-printing face shields for use in health care settings. They’re looking for volunteers to help with web work and phone calls. They’re also asking for financial contributions to help buy supplies, and restaurants that can donate food for volunteers.
Sacramento COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund
This effort supports local artists who are in a difficult financial situation due to COVID-19. You can contribute to this GoFundMe, which is overseen by the Broad Room Creative Collective, an artists’ coworking space in the Woodlake area. Artists in need should fill out this form.
California Arts Council
Find updated information about emergency relief funds for artists, or make a donation to help support artist initiatives, here.
Defending the Cause
Foster youth and family services agencies across the region are looking for diapers, baby wipes, toilet paper, coloring books, children’s clothing and pantry items. The Defending the Cause Regional Alliance in Roseville has compiled a list of those needs here. You can also donate funds to the organization.
Wind Youth Services
This nonprofit group provides emergency shelter, counseling and meals to youth experiencing homelessness. They’re continuing to do so during COVID-19, with some changes. They’re accepting financial donations here.
WellSpring Women’s Center
This Oak Park nonprofit provides food, counseling and art therapy to vulnerable women and children. They are still providing to-go food and safety net items. The usual April fundraiser that makes up 12% of their annual budget was canceled due to COVID-19. You can donate to their cause here.
This group is running a “paw pantry” to distribute free animal food and supplies to owners who are struggling financially during COVID-19. You can help them out here.
Other ways to help:
- Sign up with the Regional Center for Volunteerism to help with food distribution, construction, pet care and more.
- Donate blood if you feel healthy.
- Help get important COVID-19 information out to immigrant and refugee families by phone banking.
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