RALEIGH, N.C. – Although social distancing and staying home are the order of the day, there are still ways you can help lessen the impact of COVID-19 in your community.

  • A host of organizations support healthcare workers and those in need due to the pandemic
  • Most hospitals in North Carolina are nonprofits and accept monetary donations
  • Officials say you should verify any charity before you donate to them

For starters, most hospitals in North Carolina are nonprofits. As a result, they often have philanthropic foundations that bring in monetary donations to support their needs. For example, the WakeMed Foundation supports WakeMed in Wake County. Executive Director Brad Davis said organizations like his provide financial and mental health support to the system's employees. They also help low-income patients with needs like transportation and food while they're in the system's care.

“We've deployed telehealth visits to all of our significant homeless shelters,” he said. “Folks can make a donation to help our folks on the front line of the battle.”

Other nonprofit healthcare organizations in North Carolina include Atrium, Vidant, UNC Health Care, Duke Health, Cone Health, and Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. All of these groups have affiliated foundations similar to the WakeMed Foundation.

Blood donation services are still accepting donors as well. Barry Porter, the Red Cross' regional CEO for eastern North Carolina, said hospitals still need to carry out cancer treatments, surgeries, and a host of other functions. Blood donations take 1-1.5 hours and don't cost anything. Porter said to set an appointment ahead of time so collection centers can follow proper social distancing protocols.

You can also patronize small businesses in essential-service sectors. NFIB State Director Gregg Thompson said this category includes plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, and a host of other services. There also are locally-owned hardware stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies. Thompson said small businesses don't have the cash flow or reserves of national chains, so it's crucial people continue to shop there.

Crisis assistance groups accept a host of donations, including financial ones. Organizations such as Western Wake Crisis Ministries have noticed a surge in requests for food and rental assistance due to job losses. That organization's director, Beth Bordeaux, said monetary donations are the best way to keep such groups operational throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Other organizations are setting up dedicated COVID-19-related giving programs. For instance, the North Carolina Healthcare Foundation is raising money to pay local restaurants to provide free meals to healthcare workers. Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has launched a similar campaign.

If you choose to donate money to any organization, Attorney General Josh Stein warns you should first verify that you're giving to a legitimate charity. You should also use a credit card when possible for security and tax record purposes.