If you are looking for a way to volunteer or otherwise give back to our community, healthcare workers and others, this is the place for you. Below is a list of organizations and activities working hard to support those in need as well as local businesses and frontline workers.
It does not have to be complicated or costly:
Write a card, make a sign, send a gift, chalk your sidewalk, or otherwise say THANK YOU to the often overlooked workers who allow our community to keep functioning during this time: mail carriers, delivery people, pharmacy workers, journalists, bank workers, grocery workers, military, police and fire departments - the list is long!
You can also show essential workers your appreciation by downloading the “THANK YOU COVID HEROES” image and displaying it on your doors and windows. Maybe make a pattern with it! However you want to participate, please join us in saying thank you. The more these signs appear in our windows and on our doors, the louder our collective voice of thanks.
Call and offer support to someone who is elderly, suffers from chronic illness, lives alone, is immuno-compromised, has a job that is in jeopardy, has young children at home, or just might appreciate a friendly hello. Don’t know anyone personally who fits these categories, but still want to help? Email Rabbi Klein to be connected to TSTI members who might appreciate some outreach.
Shop local by ordering take-out or delivery from a favorite restaurant or sending a book or some flowers to someone you love (maybe to yourself!) from a local shop! Before you place that online order or head to a big box store, pause and consider if you might be able to get what you need from a local small business. Many local stores are owned by members of TSTI and need our support. Check these links to find out what’s open in South Orange, and Maplewood, and let us know if you know of similar links for neighboring towns!
In addition to sewing masks (see below), try making an ear saver. What’s an ear saver, you ask? It's a teeny bit of crocheted yarn with a couple of buttons (or crocheted bobbles to act as buttons) that keep hospital employees’ ears from getting rubbed raw by the masks that they wear to keep themselves safe. If you know how to crochet - or want to learn - you can help! Here is an easy pattern, as well as a pattern for bobbles if you are button-less. When you have a bunch finished, please put them in a plastic baggie, and leave them in the box labeled “Ear Savers” in front of religious school doors. Cantor Moses will collect and distribute them - if you have more questions, email her.
Below are more ways to help. Please help us keep this list current, by letting us know about other intiatives people can look into.
Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges
The Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges (IFPO) continues to work tirelessly to help our neighbors. Although our usual physical space remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, through the generous support of HANDS Inc., the IFPO is opening up a temporary satellite hub in Orange to be able to receive and pack food, produce and diapers. We are working closely with the Community FoodBank of NJ to bring thousands of pounds of perishable and non-perishable food to the Cities of East Orange and Orange for direct distribution to residents. We are serving our current clients and those now newly in need with the support of volunteers who are making contact-less, curbside deliveries of food, fresh produce, diapers and Diabetes boxes.
The IFPO is looking for volunteers to help with a variety of tasks — including hosting a food drive. If you are interested, please sign up here.
Seeking Cloth Masks for Neighbors: The IFPO is distributing cloth masks to hundred of neighbors living Orange & East Orange. If you are sewing masks and interesting in donated them to our neighbors, please email Karyn Leit.
Also, the IFPO is in need of plastic, t-shirt bags for packing groceries for our contactless, curbside deliveries and to pass on to the Cities of Orange and East Orange for distribution of the food. If you are already planning on going out for essential errands, t-Shirt bags can be found at Costco, Restaurant Depot and online at Amazon. Email Karyn Leit for details.
The Isaiah House Homeless Shelter and Food Pantry'smission is to reduce the homelessness, hunger and unemployment throughout Essex County and more specifically, within the Oranges and Newark. Isaiah House is the only homeless shelter in East Orange and provides temporary and permanent lodging, food, social and financial services, as well as comfort and hope for families and individuals every year. They are in need of both financial support and donations of specific items in order to continue their important work throughout the duration of this crisis.
Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry is very low on supplies, and requests donations. In a recent Facebook post, a representative said, “[w]e take food donations in the front vestibule of the church at 217 Prospect St, SO. Hours: Mon-Sat 7-4; Sun 8-12… Monetary donations can be mailed to the OLS Parish Office at 217 Prospect St, SO 07079.” You can also donate online. Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry is open 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 8-11am, including this Saturday.
FLAG (Front Line Appreciation Group) of South Orange and Maplewood is a group dedicated to feeding front line healthcare workers at Newark Beth Israel Hospital during the coronavirus pandemic while also keeping SOMA local restaurants in business. They accept donations of $10-$20, but more is always welcome. “A little extra fuel and love from the community can go a really long way to help them feel appreciated and keep them healthy,” say FLAG SOMa’s founders.
Support our Montefiore HealthCare Super Heroes! We’re safer every day because of their selfless acts of courage on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our HealthCare Super Heroes would love to hear from you and receive words of encouragement. A special “thank you” for all they do or just a message of support can put a smile on a HealthCare Hero’s face, warm their heart and pump up their energy.
Please submit your original drawings, photos, videos and letters of support via email to firstname.lastname@example.org —and we’ll share them with these true Super Heroes. Printed submissions can be sent to 3411 Wayne Ave, Bronx, NY 10467.
Stay in touch with isolated Senior Adults. Have some time and feel like lifting the spirits of an isolated senior adult? Village Apartments of the Federation on Vose Avenue in South Orange will take email notes to be distributed to residents. Please send your letters and notes in a word or pdf attachment to Tracy Horwitz so we can send them in bulk.
Opportunities to donate blood. The New York Blood Center is accepting donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19 as well as regular donations. Both are extremely important right now! You don't have to go to New York to help. The New York Blood Center has a donation center in New Brunswick and other NJ locations. If you have recovered from the virus, take this Donor Survey to see if you are eligible.
You can also donate blood through Atlantic Health Systems, or the Red Cross, which is safe to do. Blood banks are low on supply due to the coronavirus emergency, and lots of blood drives have been canceled due to closed facilities. So you need to check their links to find the most recent information. AND, if you are recovered from coronavirus, your blood is especially needed for plasma, because it has antibodies and may prove helpful to people with severe cases. Find out how to donate here. You can also donate much needed blood specifically to sickle cell patients.
If you have already covered those bases and want to do more, here are a few suggestions:
Fabricland is selling kits to help make fabric masks. Each kit costs $25 (this includes shipping) and provides all materials needed to make 25 masks. It’s shipped priority mail so you can get those masks made asap. You can also visit SOMa Sewing Volunteers for assistance and ideas.
Want to keep our health care workers fed while they are fighting coronavirus? Tito’s Burritos lets you call in with a credit card to sponsor ready-to-eat meals to health care providers and first responders at 5 local hospitals. You can sponsor a meal for $15 plus tax.
Donate masks or money to the South Orange Rescue Squad.
Sometimes little things can make a big difference. For instance, healthcare providers can really use lip balm to keep their lips moist under their masks. If you’d like to donate a container of lip balm (or ten), Kimaya Kama is donating a large box for St. Barnabas’ medical staff. You can buy something at at Kimaya Kama to help offset the cost.
If you’d like more ideas, check out the Facebook group SoMA Quarantine Assistance Delivered, or SoMA SQUAD. It’s a closed group, but they are happy to have you as long as you want to help. Not only do people post with ideas for urgent needs in our community, but there’s a daily shopping report listing current conditions at local stores, which is a bonus for local do-gooders. Frontline healthcare workers are performing tirelessly in novel, unrelenting scenarios. As hospitals brace for surges of patients, the physical and mental health needs of these frontline workers is paramount at this time.
Frontline Strong Relief is an initiative created to help support the physical and mental well-being needs of frontline workers at New York hospitals. Frontline Strong Relief Center will provide frontline workers with ongoing resources during an unprecedented time of intense psychological and physical strain.