In these times when the future is uncertain and few things are in our control, the best thing we can do is help where we can.
With the sudden unforeseen consequences of COVID-19 leaving small businesses shuttered, supplies severely depleted and over 3 million people in the United States unemployed, healthcare and other public service agencies are stretched to the limit. Nonprofits are taking a big hit, too, as donations and volunteer resources plummet.
But Southwest Florida—an area that excels at building community and giving back—is positioned to weather the storm together. We’ve rounded up a list of local organizations that could use your help, so together we can stay #GulfshoreStrong.
NCH Healthcare System: NCH hospitals need product donations, including masks, Tyvek gowns, gloves, booties and hoods, as well as hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies. Blood donations are also being requested. For more information, contact the NCH Community Blood Center at (239) 624-4120.
Meals of Hope: The organization is accepting food and monetary donations to continue providing pre-packaged meals at their eight drive-up mobile pantries in Southwest Florida.
Community Cooperative: The long-standing “Soup Kitchen” is asking for monetary and food donations. The organization is requesting peanut butter, jelly, cereal, breakfast/granola snack bars, canned tuna and chicken, macaroni and cheese, mayonnaise and shelf-stable milk.
Immokalee Foundation: The organization, which aids in education and mentorship for children in Immokalee, needs monetary donations to purchase laptops, internet service cards and printers to continue virtual programming. The staff need to stay connected with the students to continue mentoring and making learning materials available.
Harry Chapin Food Bank: The food bank mostly needs monetary donations to be able to purchase food that can be arranged into shelf-stable kits and distributed to families in the coming weeks. The organization is also accepting local restaurant food inventory that meets requirements. Restaurant owners and managers can inquire by calling Ken Varner at (941) 889-9914 or [email protected].
Lee Health: Lee Health needs blood donations, monetary donations and donations of supplies for frontline workers. Visit here for the list of supplies needed and the drop-off location. To donate blood, call Lee Health blood centers at (239) 343-2333.
Community Foundation of Collier County: The foundation created the Collier Comes Together fund, which is designed to deploy resources and aid the work of local healthcare systems and other organizations that address basic needs in the community, such as food, rent and medical expenses. All of the money donated will be directed entirely to coronavirus relief, with no fees taken for administrative costs.
Southwest Florida Community Foundation: The organization has partnered with United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties to develop the SWFL Emergency Relief Fund. As a direct response to COVID-19, the fund will provide additional aid and resources to medical personnel and the local government to address pressing needs. Donors can contribute online or text GIVESWFL to 444999.
Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties: Habitat for Humanity needs financial contributions to continue supporting the Habitat families and homeowners, many of whom rely on their work in the service industry to pay their mortgage.
Habitat for Humanity of Collier County: The Collier location is asking for monetary donations to financially stabilize Habitat homeowners, especially those who are helping the community through COVID-19 by their work in essential service industries. Contributions made will also help support the ReStores, which are closed during this time.
Salvation Army: The locations in Fort Myers and Naples need donations of nonperishable goods, baby supplies, hygiene and cleaning products for their pantries. Monetary donations will be used to provide assistance to those facing unemployment and food shortage, as well as those needing support to meet rent or mortgage.
United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties: The organization has partnered with Southwest Florida Community Foundation in creating the SWFL Emergency Relief fund for those directly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Much-needed resources and materials will be sent out to local governments and medical officials.
United Way of Collier County: The agency created a Community Coronavirus Fund on their website to raise money for those directly affected by the virus in Collier County.
Pace Center Immokalee: Amid COVID-19, the organization drops off needed supplies each week to the 60 girls in the program. Pace Center needs donations of nonperishables, peanut butter and jelly, bread, cereal, fruit cups, juice boxes, granola bars and toilet paper to cover essentials. School supplies such as composition books, folders, journals, markers and colored pencils are also needed. Donations can be dropped off at the Center, or call Executive Director Marianne Kearns at (239) 986-1618 to discuss the possibility of arranging a pick-up time in Naples.
Grace Place: The educational organization needs monetary and product donations to continue virtual learning and support for children and families. Product donations include gloves, tissues, hand sanitizers, toilet paper, canned chicken and tuna, beans, rice, soup and powdered milk. Contact Patty Calloway at (239) 255-7215 or [email protected] to arrange donation pickups or drop-offs.
Gulf Coast Humane Society: The Fort Myers-based animal shelter is requesting monetary and product donations to continue providing care supplies to fosters. View the list of supplies needed on this webpage.
Humane Society Naples: The shelter is accepting monetary and product donations to care for the remaining animals who have not yet been fostered out. Consider shopping Humane Society Naples’ Amazon wish list or make a financial contribution online.
Youth Haven: While the shelter has closed its campus to volunteers and physical donations, it is asking the public to consider shopping its Amazon wish list to provide food and necessities for the children and teens receiving care. Restaurants considering a food donation to Youth Haven can contact Laura Lafakis at (239) 687-5175 or [email protected].
Naples Therapeutic Riding Center: Despite canceling programming and events for the safety of participants, staff and volunteers, NTRC is still ensuring the care of its 14 therapy horses. The organization is asking the community to consider monetary donations to assist with the horses’ care and program scholarships for participants affected by COVID-19.
David Lawrence Center: The mental health and addiction recovery center has seen more patients with depression and anxiety since the onset of COVID-19. To continue supporting the ongoing health services and providing basic needs to disadvantaged patients, like food and childcare, consider donating online or call (239) 455-8500.
Meals of Hope: The food packing organization needs people to help hand out bags of presorted meals at any of its eight drive-up mobile pantry locations in Southwest Florida. To inquire, contact [email protected] or call (239) 537-7775.
Harry Chapin Food Bank: The food bank is looking for volunteers who are healthy, willing and able to help build food kits for distribution.
Grace Place: The family support and educational organization is requesting volunteers to assist in distributing food to families at their on-site food pantry. To inquire about volunteering, contact Chrissie Missal at [email protected].
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast: The youth-mentoring organization is accepting applications for those interested in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, with online interviews to follow. To inquire, contact Ashley Kilmer at [email protected].
Sponsor an initiative: One organization looking for sponsors is Meals of Hope. The food packing organization is open to local businesses sponsoring a meal-packing event. Employers can get their team involved in packing meals to develop leadership skills and position the company’s public profile as an advocate for the cause. For more information, contact [email protected] or call (239) 537-7775.
Pay Patronage to Local Cultural Institutions: Several local arts organizations, including The Naples Players, Gulf Coast Symphony, Players Circle Theatre and BIG ARTS are struggling under the strain of cancelled shows and events. All our arts institutions need monetary donations to continue funding the programming you love. Consider returning a purchased ticket as a donation or contributing online to support and strengthen our local arts when they need us most. After all, the show must go on.
Shop and Dine Local: Every mom-and-pop restaurant and business in our area needs our support more than ever. Place a takeout order, shop a boutique online or buy gifts cards for future use. We have a comprehensive list of what’s open for business around Southwest Florida.