Things to Do

Real Ways That People Can Help During the Coronavirus Pandemic

There are plenty of things you can do while still social distancing

Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

It might not feel like it, but staying home and social distancing is the best thing you can do to help during this pandemic. But if you want to do more, there are a lot of other options. Here’s a roundup of ways to make a difference, with links to pages that offer much more detailed information.

Get masks to hospital workers

Healthcare workers are in desperate need of N95s, surgical masks, and other protective equipment. Donate any masks you might have in your house, provide funding or materials to businesses that are switching over to mask production, or learn how to make your own if you’re handy with a needle and thread. Find more information here.

Donate blood

The American Red Cross is facing a major blood shortage and is in desperate need of donations. If you’re healthy and able, consider going to a community drive or donation center. Red Cross officials say that donating blood remains safe. Environments will be sterilized to the max, and there’s no way to transfer coronavirus through a blood transfusion. Find more information here.

Pick up groceries for elderly family members and neighbors

COVID-19 is far more fatal for people over 60, so even getting groceries can be risky for senior citizens. If you know someone who might need assistance, reach out and let them know you’re there to help. If you don’t know anyone personally, consider putting a sign up in your apartment building with your contact information so those who need help can have you as a resource.

Help at a drive-thru testing center

Even if you don’t have medical experience, you can still assist at one of the upcoming drive-thru testing centers in DC and Maryland. If you’re over 18, contact the DC or Maryland Department of Health to join their Medical Reserve Corps. Find more information here.

Donate meals to those in need

Clyde’s Restaurant Group and Knead Hospitality + Design have partnered with local nonprofit Martha’s Table to deliver meals to those in need. Called “Food it Forward,” the initiative allows the public to donate money for anywhere from one meal to a month’s worth of food for a family. Find more information here.

Give a virtual tip to restaurant and bar employees

There are a few virtual tip jars and restaurant funds where you can donate money to help restaurant and bar workers who have been put out of work due to closures. Find more information here.

Support the Power of 10 initiative

You can donate as little as $10 to help support this initiative’s goal to raise $10,000 for local restaurants. Every $10,000 raised helps to pay for 10 restaurant jobs and 1000 meals donated to communities in need. Find more information here.

Buy swag to support hospitality workers

Founded by local bartender Beth Cormack, the #IndustryStrong apparel line donates 100 percent of its proceeds to DC restaurant relief worker organization Hook Hall Helps. Find more information here.

Donate money to help the arts

Local arts organization theatreWashington is organizing a fundraiser to help performers and theaters impacted by coronavirus shutdowns. The donations will go directly into grants for 230 people who have been affected by the crisis. Find more information here.

Donate money to help the global response

Humanitarian organizations like World Vision are working to get protective equipment across the globe to help vulnerable communities in developing nations and countries with high numbers of refugees. Areas with poor health care systems are going to be the ones most severely affected by the pandemic. Find more information here.

Get food to healthcare workers

Astro Doughnuts is delivering food to frontline healthcare workers via their food truck. For every $500 worth of food donated, Astro will add in an additional $100. Find more information here. You can also donate to this gofundme to send meals to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital workers.

Help with NIH research

The NIH is currently trying to figure out how many Americans have Covid-19 antibodies. You can help by going to the NIH in Bethesda to get your blood drawn, or by taking a finger-prick of your blood at home with a test kit. Those interested in volunteering should send an email to Find more information here.


Know of more ways to help? Email the author at and she’ll add to this list.

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.