The shelter-in-place orders have impacted each of us in different ways and to varying degrees, but we are all in this together. Over the past several weeks, the needs in our community have become clearer. Below are a couple of ways that we have been contributing, as well as other ideas to address some of our community's most acute needs.
Burritos For Our Friends In The Streets
One of MFA's financial advisors, Victor Huang, has been raising money to buy hundreds of burritos each week to distribute to the local homeless community. The organization that distributes the food typically sources low-cost foods each week. But with grocery stores booming and small businesses hurting, Victor thought that raising money and buying prepared food at market prices was a win-win. This week, MFA is thrilled to sponsor hundreds of burrito purchases from our favorite Mexican lunch spot Taqueria Limon!
Consider Buying From Small Businesses
Even if we cannot individually buy hundreds of burritos at a time, there are many smaller things that we can do. This past weekend, I visited a local shop (offering pick-up only) to buy gifts for friends and colleagues. There are a lot of quarantined people who would enjoy a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers at this time and even small sales mean a lot to your local shop these days. Maintaining monthly subscriptions to local service providers such as gyms (even if they are closed and no service is provided) is another way to support small businesses. Even businesses that are temporarily closed may be willing to sell gift cards/certificates for future use, which will provide them with much-needed revenue right now.
Supporting Individuals and Healthcare
In addition to small businesses, there are many ways to serve individuals and organizations. Below are a few ideas:
- Give or lend to unemployed, underemployed, and/or undocumented individuals who you know. Although the Phase II and Phase III of COVID-19 legislation greatly expanded unemployment eligibility and increased benefit amounts, there are many who are not eligible for unemployment benefits.
- Volunteer to deliver food to elderly neighbors or volunteer with the local food bank. While food banks seem to be well-funded and well-stocked right now, there appears to be a severe shortage of volunteers.
- Donate blood, if healthy and able. Due to health fears, blood donations are down recently (when they are needed most!).
- If you have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks or gloves, consider donating them as there is a huge need at hospitals around the country right now. If you know how or have time to sew while sheltering-in-place, there are many news stories about individuals making masks at home and donating them to healthcare workers.
- Consider donating cash to charitable organizations, from a donor-advised fund (where you may have donated highly-appreciated assets before the recent market declines).
For those quarantined at home with kids, my family has enjoyed watching Jimmy Fallon shooting The Tonight Show from home (with his kids running all over the place, which makes me realize that we really are ALL in this together). Each night he hosts celebrity guests (via Zoom video calls) to highlight various charitable organizations. Here's an entertaining episode from last week: