How to help, get help during the coronavirus pandemic

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(Courtesy of the CDC)

As the coronavirus pandemic forces extended closures of businesses and schools, many residents around the country and in Denton County are losing their jobs, encountering sickness and stress, and otherwise needing a helping hand.

If You Can Help

Here are some ways you can give back to the community and help those in need.

If you want to volunteer in Denton County, the county can facilitate how you can help with organizations that need you. Click here and fill out the short form.

Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross said blood supplies are at risk and is urging healthy people to donate ASAP. Click here for more information about how to donate.

Christian Community Action has seen “a large drop in volunteers” since the coronavirus reached North Texas, and at the same time, the nonprofit is expecting to see an increase in clients needing rental, utility and food assistance. Click here for more information about how to donate or volunteer.

Lovepacs Lewisville provides a breakfast, lunch and snack for all students at schools that feed into Marcus, Flower Mound and Lewisville High Schools. Click here for more information about how to volunteer and/or donate.

The Court Appointed Special Advocates of Denton County, Our Daily Bread DentonSPCA of Texas, Salvation Army, North Texas Food Bank, United Way of Denton County, Serve Denton and many more local nonprofits are all in need of donations and/or volunteers.

Patronize local businesses: Just ordering a meal from a locally-owned restaurant or buying supplies at a local store that employs local residents can help keep businesses open and people in their jobs.

If You Need Help

To apply for Small Business Administration Disaster Loans, click here.

To file for unemployment benefits, click here or call 1-800-939-6631.

To apply for jobs, permanent or temporary, click here.

On Tuesday, Denton ISD began providing free meals to students throughout its closure (photo courtesy of DISD).

Area school districts are providing free meals to children. Go to your local district’s website for more information.

The Denton County MHMR crisis hotline can help people struggling with the stress and worry they are encountering because of the pandemic. The hotline is answered 24/7 at 1-800-762-0157.

If you need additional help during this hard economic time, the above local nonprofits may be able to help, as well as the following Texas organizations (information courtesy the Texas Tribune).

Meals

Texans who meet certain income eligibility guidelines can apply for various federal benefit programs. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides money for food, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children provides resources for pregnant women and people with children younger than 5.

Feeding Texas has a website where people can find 21 member food banks that can provide free groceries and a place to sign up for SNAP benefits. The organization is also asking for donations for the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, and local organizations are looking for volunteers, food donations and monetary donations.

Local chapters of the Salvation Army in Texas are also offering a variety of services, including shelter, addiction services and curbside pickup for groceries. Texans can donate directly to the Salvation Army Texas on its website or to their local chapters, which can be found here.

The Meals on Wheels Texas website allows Texans to search for local Meals on Wheels chapters that are providing meals to elderly individuals that can be picked up or home delivered. Local chapters are also looking for volunteers and certain items to be donated. Specific needs can be found on the local chapters’ websites.

Little Free Pantry is a nationwide network of local pantries providing food and resources to people experiencing food insecurity. Texans can find a map of pantries in their area here or list their own pantry if they would like to start one.

The Texas Education Agency launched the Texas Students MealFinder Map with a list of local education agency facilities serving meals in their communities. The map includes the address of each facility and dates and times meals will be served.

Medical services

The Texas Association of Community Health Centers has a website where people can search for community health centers, health center networks and other providers serving the uninsured in Texas. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, many centers are asking patients to call first before coming in.

Texans can call 2-1-1 and select option 6 for questions about symptoms, travel concerns, unemployment insurance, emergency food assistance, city and state orders, and more. Various counties across Texas also have websites with public health information and local hotlines for COVID-19 questions and virtual screenings.

The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage, and it is strongly urging people to give blood due to cancellations of blood drives across the state. People can sign up to give at various locations in Texas here.

Employment

Texans whose employment has been affected by the new coronavirus can apply for benefits using Unemployment Benefits Services or call 800-939-6631 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays for assistance.

Texas small-businesses owners can access long-term, low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s economic injury disaster loan program. Texans can visit the SBA’s website to apply for loans.

Other resources

Comcast is providing free Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots around the nation. People can find hotspots here and then select the “xfinitywifi” network. Charter Communications is also providing free Wi-Fi hotspots and broadband to students without a subscription until April 6. Students can enroll by calling 844-488-8395.

Aunt Bertha is a nationwide website with a searchable index of a variety of free support services, such as food banks and health care. Texans can search for services in their area by typing in their ZIP code.

Need Help Paying Bills has a list of organizations on its website offering housing support or eviction prevention services throughout the state of Texas, including emergency housing and homeless shelters.

About The Author

Mark Smith

Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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