Here's how to rally like a New Yorker.

By Alison Fox
Updated June 04, 2020
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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep across the country, the hustle and bustle of New York City has come to a standstill as it's become one of the most hard-hit cities in the nation.

The USNS Comfort navy hospital ship is docked at Pier 90 as The Empire State Building glows red in solidarity with those infected with COVID-19 on April 3, 2020 in New York City as seen from West New York, New Jersey. According to reports, the military hospital ship's 1,000 beds, expected to help overcrowded hospitals dealing with the city's COVID-19 outbreak.
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With New York now considered the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States with over 138,000 cases — and New York City hosting 76,000 of them — according to recent state data, the government has stepped in at the local and state level with restrictions and regulations to help contain the virus.

Restaurants have closed their doors, Broadway has gone dark, and hospitals are overwhelmed. Meanwhile, everyday tasks including grocery shopping, going to doctor appointments, and maintaining a work routine are no longer easy — especially with (very important) social distancing rules put in place.

Cue volunteer organizations and kind-hearted New Yorkers stepping up and rallying to help those in need.

Famed chef José Andrés mobilized his World Central Kitchen, and teachers are volunteering at Department of Education Regional Enrichment Centers to watch the kids of frontline workers. Initiatives have been launched to feed out-of-work restaurant employees and help procure desperately needed medical equipment like masks. There are plenty of ways to support New Yorkers during this unprecedented time, from volunteering your free time to donating to great causes.

Al Sharpton helps distribute pre-packaged meals with World Central Kitchen in New York City.
Courtesy of World Central Kitchen

Here are a few ways you can get involved. (Please exercise proper precautions including wearing protective masks and gloves while volunteering or delivering goods to people in need.)

Help procure masks.

Masks, along with other essential protective equipment, are in short supply and desperately needed. That’s why anyone with extra equipment is encouraged to donate it through either a private initiative like NYC Mask Crusaders or the City of New York’s PPE donation page.

The NYC Mask Crusaders aim to directly connect donors with institutions in need — specifically putting out a call to people like artists and laborers who may be more likely to have this equipment on hand. Participants are asked to donate their unused items like masks, gloves, protective eyewear, and clothing, shoe covers, and face shields. Those who wish to donate can fill out an online form and will then be contacted directly by the organization that needs the equipment to coordinate a pickup, according to the project.

A doctor stands in the middle of the makeshift COVID-19 screening center outside Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, Thursday, April 2nd, 2020.
B.A. Van Sise/NurPhoto via Getty Images
A man with a face mask rides the subway station on March 17, 2020 in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Go grocery shopping.

Seniors and those who are medically compromised have been advised not to go outside, but they still need a steady flow of groceries. That’s where the group Invisible Hands comes in to connect volunteers who can deliver much-needed food supplies with “those in high-risk demographics.”

The group serves the greater New York City area and parts of New Jersey and is looking for volunteers who don’t have symptoms, haven’t traveled out of the country recently, and practice social distancing. If you’re not in the area, you can donate through their website to cover things like transportation for volunteers and supplies like gloves and disinfectant wipes.

People keeping their distance while waiting in line to shop at a Trader Joe's in the Brooklyn, New York.
Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

Help serve meals.

Donations to services providing meals to at-risk New Yorkers are needed now more than ever. Donate to Citymeals on Wheels, which delivers meals to older New Yorkers and those who usually get food at senior centers. Or donate to the Food Bank for New York City, which is working to provide food supplies through things like drive-thru pantry pick-ups, at home deliveries, and pop-up food distribution events at city housing developments, as well as provide emergency grocery bags for thousands of healthcare workers.

Donate blood.

COVID-19 is a public health emergency and it’s important to ensure a steady supply of blood throughout it. The New York Blood Center has several donor centers set up throughout the city.

Additionally, patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are fully recovered are encouraged to donate plasma, which contains antibodies and is being “evaluated as treatment for patients seriously ill with COVID-19,” according to the American Red Cross. The New York Blood Center is also accepting this convalescent plasma at their donor centers, asking potential volunteers to first fill out a form.

A person is seen at Battery Park with the statue of Liberty in the backdrop in New York City amid Coronavirus pandemic on April 5, 2020.
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Grand Central Terminal is nearly empty amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 5, 2020 in New York City. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming almost 70,000 lives with infections nearing 1.3 million people.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

Help restaurants survive.

Ordering from your favorite local restaurant is a great way to support them through these harrowing times, but food nonprofit Rethink Food NYC Inc is taking it a step further with their Restaurant Response Program. The program, which accepts donations, will give up to $40,000 to as many as 30 restaurants so they can keep operating through the pandemic. Additionally, the nonprofit has partnered with Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm to turn the three-Michelin-star restaurant into a commissary kitchen “with the goal of producing thousands of meals per day for those who are working in the front lines and those who are deeply [affected] by the current crisis.”

Many restaurant workers are also feeling the pinch right now as eateries close their doors and are forced to lay off staff. IGC Hospitality, which owns more than a dozen bars and restaurants in the city, is attempting to feed those workers with their “Family Meal” program. The initiative, which you can donate to through their GoFundMe page, provides free take-out meals for restaurant workers and their families, who can request the meals online.

An empty restaurant on Hudson Street in Manhattan is seen as New York City.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

Donate to help those making calls to seniors.

By donating to New York Cares, a nonprofit that mobilizes volunteers for projects throughout the city, you would be supporting several COVID-19 initiatives, including a pilot program making calls to isolated seniors by staff and “highly engaged volunteer leaders,” a company spokeswoman told Travel + Leisure.

Additionally, donations to the group’s COVID-19 Relief Fund go toward distributing pre-packaged meals and food bags to vulnerable city residents.

Click here for the most recent updates on coronavirus from Travel + Leisure.

The information in this article reflects that of the publishing time above. However, as statistics and information regarding coronavirus rapidly change, some figures may be different from when this story was originally posted. While we strive to keep our content as up to date as possible, we also recommend visiting sites like the CDC or websites of local health departments.