Md. nonprofits seek volunteers and donations for pandemic relief

Several Maryland nonprofits are working to help those whose lives have been disrupted by COVID-19. Now, they’re asking for volunteers and donations to sustain their operations.

Some of those needs were hinted at during an online coronavirus town hall for Anne Arundel County on Saturday.

“The Anne Arundel County Food Bank has always been an essential part of our community,” State Sen. Sarah Elfreth said. “Reaching out to them and donating your time if you’re healthy and available or donating nonperishable food items to the food bank is really important right now.”

Other food banks around the region are asking for similar assistance. During the same town hall, congressman Anthony Brown suggested the group as another group to donate to.

Similarly, the Children’s Inn at NIH is asking for help.

Even though the facility housing families who have children undergoing experimental treatment for life-threatening illnesses at NIH serves fewer families than usual, the Children’s Inn had to put a stop on accepting visitors and volunteers inside its doors.

Those volunteers excel at organizing activities and helping out in other ways, including by providing meals.

“Our biggest need is meals,” said Jennie Lucca, the CEO of the Children’s Inn. “We typically lean on our community to bring meals and serve meals to our families.

Lucca mentioned what she’s doing now is purchasing meals from local restaurants who are delivering them in individualized containers.

“The biggest way our community can support us if they wish to is to make a donation to our Feed Families program which then allows us to order meals from local restaurants in Bethesda,” said Lucca.

She said it can be a challenge to find restaurants using individualized containers, which are needed since the Children’s Inn houses those with compromised immune systems.

In the past they could serve those meals buffet style and it didn’t matter how the food arrived.

On Saturday, Anne Arundel County leaders also praised boat repair companies for providing thousands of masks that can be used by hospital staff dealing with a nationwide shortage.

They encouraged more of that.

“For all those businesses who have supplies that can be used in the health care industry, please reach out to us,” said Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, who is the Anne Arundel County Health Officer.

Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is touting a website that lists a number of different ways people with different skills and abilities can help after hearing from residents around the state who are interested in offering what they can.

The Maryland Unites site offers ways to help organizations like the Maryland Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, and the Red Cross.

It also includes a link to the Maryland Responds Reserve Medical Corps which relies on people with specific medical and emergency response skills to donate their time and abilities in places where they’re needed most.

The governor tweeted on Saturday the state is “now recruiting active and retired health care professionals, medical students, and other interested volunteers.”

A full list of resources for those who need anything from food to unemployment money, or any other state service that could be impacted by coronavirus are available at the website for the Maryland Governor’s office.

On Saturday night, D.C. Mayor Murial Bowser made a similar request for the DC Medical Reserve Corps

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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