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Coronavirus in Austin: How to help community in need

Kristin Finan,
Volunteers Lars Burrell, left, and Brian Bode prepare meals at the Central Texas Food Bank. [JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to impact our daily lives, many of us are looking for ways to help. If you want to give back, here are some ideas. Have another suggestion? Email


Central Texas Food Bank: Volunteers remain critical at the Central Texas Food Bank, which distributes to 21 counties in Central Texas. Although the city has limited gatherings to 10 or fewer people to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Derrick Chubbs, president of the Central Texas Food Bank, said he has received a waiver from the city that allows the bank to bring in two separate groups of 25 to volunteer per shift. Learn more, donate or sign up to help at

RELATED: Food banks strapped for resources, volunteers

RELATED: Austin ISD steps up meal services

Austin Independent School District: AISD is distributing meals while local schools are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and is also offering telehealth visits for families. The district has created an AISD Crisis Support Fund to supplement access for families in need of food services, health programs and remote learning. Learn more or donate at


The Salvation Army: The Salvation Army has increased measures to protect its clients from the COVID-19 outbreak and is need of hand sanitizer, tissues, sanitizing wipes, disinfectant spray and toilet paper. Shop and donate online here. All donations, both in kind and monetary, will stay local and be used at area shelters and other Salvation Army facilities in Travis and Williamson counties. Learn more at

SAFE: SAFE, a merger of Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace, serves survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence and child abuse. It continues to service clients and is currently in need of the following in-kind donations: baby wipes, formula, hand sanitizer, diapers and pull-ups, feminine hygiene products, razors, toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towers, cleaning supplies, bleach, laundry soap, tissues, trash bags, and non-perishable food. You may also shop using SAFE’s Target and Amazon wishlists.


Austin Pets Alive: Several celebrities this week, including “Friday Night Lights” actor Kyle Chandler, who adopted a pup, and “Queer Eye” star Antoni Porowski, who is fostering one, stopped by Austin Pets Alive this week to adopt or foster, and the shelter is still in need. Those interested in fostering an animal can find more information at or by emailing All fosters must apply online; do not stop by the shelter without receiving a confirmation and further information from APA staff. More about how the animal shelter is preparing for the coronavirus pandemic can be found on APA’s website, too. APA also has a wishlist of needed items that can be found here.

Austin Animal Shelter: The Austin Animal Center is closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic and also seeking fosters and supplies. Visit to apply to become a foster parent.


We Are Blood: We Are Blood, which provides blood and platelets to 40 hospitals across Central Texas, has an urgent need for blood donors and is taking precautions to protect donors from the coronavirus. Learn more at


Partnerships for Children: Times of crisis can lead to an increase of children entering the foster care system. Partnerships for Children, which distributes items directly to CPS caseworkers, who will be removing and placing these children in new homes through its Rainbow Rooms, is in need of items on its wishlist. Learn more at


Support Local: Gannett, the owner of USA TODAY, the Austin American-Statesman and more than 260 other daily local media properties, is launching a nationwide effort to help communities support local small businesses struggling during the coronavirus crisis. The media company announced March 23 a new website,, that will allow users to select local businesses in their community to support by buying gift cards for use at a later time. Visitors and business owners can also add local businesses to the platform. Find more details here.

Intellihelp: Austinite Ron Lynch wanted to make it easy for Americans to connect with people in need, in their own cities, right now, so he created a Facebook group called Intellihelp that allows members to quickly and easily respond to neighbors who post that they are in need of general items such as food or transportation as a result of the coronavirus and its impact on daily life. Here’s how it works. First, a person in need posts the word “HELP,” their general location and a summarized request of what they need to the group. Then, someone in their area responds with “GOT THIS” and sends a private message to that person to coordinate the delivery of whatever it is they need. The group, which was formed the evening of March 14, already has more than 26,000 members. Learn more or join at

Austin Virtual Tip Jar: Austin Virtual Tip Jar was created after the cancellation of South by Southwest as a way to support the staff at local bars, restaurants, coffee shops, music venues and clubs. Organizers have compiled a list of Austin service industry workers and their Venmo or PayPal accounts — if you’d like to donate, go to; send questions to

Southern Smoke Foundation: This Houston-based foundation, which has raised more than $1.5 million for industry staff and has an ongoing Emergency Relief Fund, is accepting donations to help its Austin industry peers. Of note: Organizations must apply to request the donate funds, and Southern Smoke is adhering to its standards, including documentation to support the crisis, once they receive applications from Austin. More information at

The American-Statesman is making this coverage available to nonsubscribers at no cost as a public service during the coronavirus outbreak.

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