How can action-oriented people make a difference in a pandemic?

COVID-19 vs. Us

EDITOR’S NOTE – Mainstreet Daily News is seeking stories about individuals and organizations coming together to push back against the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s entitled “COVID-19 vs. Us”.

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These inspiring people are taking a proactive approach, and helping themselves, their communities, and their world to battle against this staggering epidemic.

If you have a story of a person, business, or organization that is fighting against the coronavirus to help others, please email us at

With so much in upheaval right now, from our social networks and support, to work income and opportunities, it’s heartrending to think of those who are living on the margins.

It’s true that so many of us live paycheck to paycheck no matter the monthly take-home number, and we all will struggle one way or another because of COVID-19. I had one bank owner explain to me during the 2008 financial crises: It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a yacht or a dingy, when your boat gets hit it still sinks. I got his point. But I couldn’t help but think how much closer to the water a dingy sits, with less resource and power and ability to hold on until it goes completely under.

Boat analogies aside, my heart is heavy. And I wonder if yours might be too. As action-oriented people we want to do more than feel bad for those in need, we want to do something. Something that really makes a difference. Something that will give tangible relief and open space for others to breathe. Something that will bring real hope.

What I can do alone feels like so little. But when added to the little you can do… and to the little he can do… and she… and them… and others… the little becomes a lot.

When our collective hearts and hands are opened and we reflect inward to see how we can help someone beyond ourselves, then, more than just a random stepping stone here and there, a community-built bridge reaches across the turbulent waters and helps keep our sinking neighbors, near and far, from sinking beneath the surface.

The thing about reflecting inward to see what’s there to give, gives us a chance to see clearly. It’s when we look deeply, honestly, that we catch a glimpse of our neighbor’s face, or a struggling stranger’s, in the reflection of our own.

We’re all struggling. But all of us have something we can give to make the struggling a little lighter, the day a little better, and hope a little brighter. With each selfless act from hearts that care beyond our own individual situations, we make this possible for all of us.

Opportunities to give

With the “Stay At Home” Executive Order in place for Alachua County, there are obvious limitations in how we can help. But I started looking into opportunities and ways to give and have been heartened by individuals and organizations who have focused their efforts on making sure our most vulnerable and valuable neighbors in need aren’t left to struggle alone, especially in these difficult times.

Some of these you’ve heard of, others will be new, and as I learn of additional opportunities I will update this page, so keep it close at hand. And PLEASE send me an email if you discover any others we should add to the list.

Just know, whatever you can give – time, support, money, ideas – your donation will go a long way.

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In Alachua County:

United Way of North Central Florida:

As you know, many residents of North Central Florida have been and will continue to be affected by COVID-19. Nearly half of our local community members live paycheck-to-paycheck and do not have the ability to save for unforeseen events, such as a global pandemic.

 In light of the recent COVID-19 situation, United Way of North Central Florida has launched the United We Care Emergency Relief Fund to support our nonprofit Community Impact Partners as they serve affected members of the community. During this constantly changing time, we hope that by providing further support to our Community Impact Partners, they in turn can assist many more community members in need. 

 The United We Care funds are designated to help provide assistance with rent, utilities, food, toiletries and gas (as needed). Our goal is to help to keep families housed, fed and stable during this unsteady time. Furthermore, we have pledged that 100% of the donations to the United We Care fund will go straight to helping local community members in need and no administrative costs will be taken.

 We are continuing to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and will be posting updates on our Facebook page, so be sure to follow us.

 Community members seeking assistance can dial 2-1-1 or 352-332-4636 to get connected with local resources. For more information and to donate to UWNCFL’s United We Care Emergency Relief Fund, please go here.

Where to Volunteer

Here is a list of local organizations that need volunteers in Gainesville and Alachua County. If you represent an organization, and would like to add to this list, please email us at

Additional Opportunities

  • Domestic Workers is providing $400 in emergency assistance for qualifying home care workers, nannies, and house cleaners who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This allows these workers to stay home and stay safe.
  • Meals on Wheels delivers meals to vulnerable senior citizens. Their COVID-19 Response Fund will get emergency resources to local programs.
  • No Hungry Kid is working to ensure that no child who normally receives a meal from a school lunch program goes hungry during the pandemic.
  • Global Giving is helping stop the spread of the virus by giving communities on the front lines of the crisis the resources they need to act quickly and protect the most vulnerable. The organization sends doctors, nurses, and health care workers to communities in need and is also helping to get masks, ventilators, and other lifesaving medical supplies to hospitals and clinics.
  • One Fair Wage is providing cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, and personal service workers who often rely on tips and whose income is threatened by COVID-19.
  • AmeriCares is funding the distribution of critical supplies, education, training, and other support for its staff and partners here at home and around the world.
  • UNITE HERE is providing economic relief for working families facing layoffs and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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