Houston charities need your help during COVID-19 crisis

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the number of Houston-area coronavirus cases continues to grow, charities are stepping up their response efforts. Here's what some charities are doing to help during the outbreak and what you can do to assist them.

The Beacon

What are they offering?

Staff is offering to-go meals seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The sacks will include enough food for two meals, a drink and hand wipes. Housing assessments are available Monday through Friday starting at 10:30 a.m. on a limited basis. Laundry and shower services will also be made available, but on a limited basis. The City of Houston and the Downtown Management District have installed a hand-washing station in front of their facility.

What can I do to help?

Volunteers are needed to help make and assemble sack lunches that are given to clients.

NOTE: If you are sick, do not volunteer. If you have any underlying conditions, please consider opportunities to support organizations that are utilizing "virtual or remote" volunteer opportunities.

The Beacon said all volunteers will be screened at check-in with a series of questions to ensure you're safe to volunteer.

Visit The Beacon's website to register.

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston

What are they offering?

The BGCGH has set up a drive-thru pantry to safely deliver food to families. There's no need to get out of your car! Staff will load your vehicle with up to a week's worth of healthy food options. The final distribution day is Friday, March 27 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. while supplies last.

Online learning platforms are also made available for members.

Visit the BGCGH's website for more information.

What can I do to help?

A list of volunteer opportunities has been made available for those interested in helping with the drive-thru pantry. To view the calendar, click here.

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Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center says it is in vital need of donations, especially for O positive and O negative blood and red blood cells. According to the blood center, COVID-19 poses no known risk to patients receiving blood transfusions, and there is no risk of contracting the virus from donating. A blood donation could save up to three lives.

What can I do to help?

  • Practice social distancing!
  • The blood center is asking all donors to make an appointment first to prevent overcrowding.

Houston Food Bank

What are they offering?

Houston Food Bank continues to offer food assistance throughout the Houston area and said its demand has heightened due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To locate a Houston Food Bank partner near you, click here. You can also call their helpline at 832-369-9390 or text FOOD to 855-308-2282.

What can I do to help?

  • The Houston Food Bank needs volunteers now more than ever to help perform necessary tasks. They've increased cleaning frequency in high-traffic areas at all facilities, including volunteer work areas.
  • You can also make a monetary donation.
  • If you want to donate food, you're more than welcome, but the food bank suggests alternatives. Although food and food packaging is not known to transmit coronavirus, according to the FDA, the Houston Food Bank is encouraging alternative methods for donating food and supplies to help our neighbors. Instead of a traditional food drive or donating items that you purchase, try hosting a virtual food drive fundraiser. You can also purchase a few extra items at the grocery store and drop them in the red barrels at the front of your local H-E-B, Kroger, or Randalls. Items such as canned vegetables, fruit, or protein as well as pantry staples are among the most needed items.

Houston Furniture Bank

What are they offering?

Houston Furniture Bank provides families in need with essential furniture items. They even offer furniture selection appointments every day.

What can I do to help?

  • Volunteers are needed to help families and their caseworkers select furniture.
  • Furniture selection appointments are scheduled Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • The non-profit says there can be up to 8 appointments in one day. Each appointment is 30 minutes long.

To sign up, click here.

Kids' Meals

What are they offering?

Kids' Meals offers meals to underprivileged preschoolers in Houston, which are delivered door-to-door. Each meal consists of a protein, a healthy snack and a juice. In addition, they deliver up to three grocery bags a week to their families. According to a recent Facebook post, the non-profit has grown 125% in just one week due to the coronavirus outbreak.

What can I do to help?

  • Twenty-five volunteers are needed per day, according to Kids' Meal, including drivers and riders.
  • The drivers will deliver meals to the children's homes in their own vehicle and can reserve up to five of the available routes.
  • Each route will take up to an hour and a half or three hours to complete. Drivers must be 25 or older with a valid driver's license and insurance. They're also required to pass a background check.
  • It is encouraged to have two or more volunteers per vehicle.
  • Volunteers riders are also needed personally deliver the meals and food items.
  • Riders are encouraged to bring their own lunch along for the ride. You must be 18 or older.

To sign up, visit the Kids' Meal website.

Target Hunger Houston

What are they offering?

Target Hunger has changed most food assistance operations to drive-thru distributions with items being loaded in car trunks as well as enhanced safety protocols.

According to CEO Sandra Wicoff, as of March 24, double food distributions were delivered to 343 senior households and pantry clients increased by 33 percent. Its food fairs served 600 emergency clients in addition to regular clients and mobile distributions provided food for nearly 1,000 people.

To sign up, visit Target Hunger Houston's website.

What can I do to help?

  • Volunteers are needed for Target Hunger Houston's warehouse and senior services.
  • They're needed to help pack pantry and senior distributions as well as handing out the food to senior members.

To get started, visit Target Hunger Houston's website.
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