Looking for ways to give back, get involved from a distance, or donate to local organizations as coronavirus restrictions and changes continue to impact Orlando? We’ve been collecting recommendations from our readers and have rounded them up below.
We’ll continue to update and tweak this list (since new regulations and advisories continue to roll in from national, state, and local officials) and we’ll have the latest updates in our newsletter weekly. Know of some other opportunities, online events, or other resources? Email us at [email protected] and include the subject line COVID Bulletin Board.
Make PPE for folks on the frontlines (and yourself)
😷 Ready to roll up your sleeves? Several folks in the community are producing personal protective equipment (PPE) and they could really use your help.
- Whether it’s donating material, offering to sew, or connecting the dots, check out Facebook groups Orlando Face Mask Strong and the local Million Mask Challenge to find out how you can help.
- Staff and volunteers at Factur, the local makerspace in Ivanhoe Village, are working to create face shields for all people on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis. They’re in need of 3D printers, material, and help in getting the word out.
- This Reddit thread links to others in the community working on building masks via a 3D printer.
😷 Have a 3D printer you’re not using? Our frontliners still need PPE and could use your help in making masks.
Volunteer and donation opportunities
💰 Make a donation to a local shelter. The Salvation Army used to house an average of 300 men a night. Now they’re up to 1,000. It’s one of many local shelters that are bracing for the coronavirus tidal wave and its aftershocks.
🍝 Help food pantries in Osceola County. Since March 1, Osceola County has seen an almost 60 percent increase in food pantry distribution. And, as of March 16, 55 percent of residents visiting said food pantries are out of work due to COVID-19. Nonprofit org REDI is partnering with Osceola County to raise $100,000 to support the pantries. Donate here.
🍔 Donate to Feed the Need Florida, an initiative by 4Roots, the nonprofit started by 4Rivers founder John Rivers. Local schools have been distributing meals to students, and now though Feed the Need FL, meals will be provided for extended family members and others in need. Donate at feedtheneedfl.org and spread the word via social media using the hashtag #FeedtheNeedFL.
🍷 Support Orlando Science Center through their Stellar Wine Cellar fundraiser. Donate $125 to OSC and they’ll return the favor by sending you a bottle of vino, wine glasses, discounts to local restaurants, and access to the ultimate virtual wine party. Perfect timing since National Wine Day is coming up on May 25. Cheers!
🏡 Help our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Pathways, a local nonprofit addressing homelessness, and mental health issues in Central Florida, is working hard to provide much-needed services, and they could always use your donations. They’re running a campaign in May, “Pathways doesn’t pause,” with a goal of raising $10k. Help ‘em get there.
✍ Write a letter to a senior citizen, schedule a virtual chat with kids, or send a “thank you” to a caregiver. And if you want to do more, check out the other seven options for giving back that Experience Kissimmee has compiled. Thanks, Selina M. for the heads up!
🚸 Help the Children’s Home Society of Central Florida. Children’s Home Society works to help get kids in foster care either back to their homes or adopted and they’re in need of donations.
🙏 Our city’s food banks are facing major challenges as demands increase and social distancing increases. The local Meals on Wheels program run by nonprofit Seniors First continues to serve almost 500 seniors in the area and are in need of monetary and in-kind donations. Here’s how to contribute.
🌽 Second Harvest Food Bank is one of the many food banks seeing a spike in demand but a drop in donations amid the coronavirus crisis. Its interactive map of food locations used to get about 35 hits a day, now it gets 1200 and the number of meals distributed has doubled to 280,000 a day. They need volunteers and donations, stat.
💰 Donate to local charities helping our neighbors in need. United Against Poverty’s grocery share program is a good place to start.
🛍 Need a leg up on groceries? Local church Faith Assembly is hosting another drive-up food distribution for those in need Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
🎒Orange County Public School systems have added more schools to its Grab & Go meal initiative. Children 18 and under are allowed a free breakfast and lunch meal, Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
🧼 Clean the World needs our help! The national organization responsible for getting clean soap to the whole world (and is located right here in Orlando) is looking for donations and volunteers because what the world needs now is love, sweet love and definitely soap. Here’s how to help.
🍕 Feed local healthcare workers. Rob, the owner of CKO Boxing Studio in Thornton Park, has been delivering pizza to local healthcare workers and he’s asking for donations to keep it going.
Donate blood or plasma
💉 OneBlood is collecting plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to be used as a potential treatment option for critically ill patients fighting COVID-19. If you can’t donate plasma, they’re still in need of blood donations.
Unemployment and housing help
💵 Looking for work? OrlandoJobs.com is holding a multi-day virtual job fair through April 30 and there were originally over 1,800 jobs listed. Also still hiring: Publix, CVS, and Walmart. Or check out local food blogger Ricky Ly’s running list of hospitality jobs or this list from the Sentinel.
🏡 If you’re worried about making rent next month, check out this list of rental assistance programs in Central Florida.
Support local businesses
🍻 Missing your bartender? There’s a virtual tip jar going around for your favorite drink-slingers. It’s called Orlando Tip Pool, and it was started by local attorney Mike Grossman. If you’re a furloughed hospitality worker, you’ll want to check this out. And if you’re missing your favorite bartender and just wanna tell them, this is one way to do it.
🍽️ Want to help local restaurants? Buy a gift card or place a to-go order. Start by skimming through iHeart Radio’s Keep Orlando Going site, Orlando Weekly’s Good to Go Orlando site or Bungalower’s running list of restaurants offering curbside pickup.
👚 Wanna support local businesses? Shop their merch. Print company Impress Ink is selling local-branded tees for $25 and giving $10 back to the restaurant or business on the shirt and donating $2 of each sale to Second Harvest Food Bank.
💪 Missing your favorite gym or fitness studio? You’re not alone. The good news is that many have moved their workouts to the internet. That’s one way to still support your local community while also staying healthy and working on your fitness.
💪 Need an accountability partner and some motivation to get your workout in? RDV Athletic Club has gone virtual and is offering online group classes, HIIT circuits, yoga sessions, health coaching and more. And their MVP-at-home workouts are currently free.
🍺 Grab yourself a beer. Casselberry brewery, Bowigens, is making a new beer called “It’s Just Allergies” and directing 100% of the profits to their staff. The beer is a West Coast Style Red IPA if we haven’t already sold you on it.
⚽️ Orlando City launched the #AllforORL initiative. It’s a “virtual march to the match” and you can support small businesses that you’d usually frequent on a game day or places that regularly hold watch parties by donating via this interactive map.
🍊 Support local grocers and still practicing social-distancing by shopping any of the farms on this list.
🛍 Virtually shop local makers on “Made in ORL”, a directory of local creatives, shop owners, and artisans.
Support community arts
🎨 Support local art and donate to the Art & History Museums – Maitland. For every dollar you give now through Thursday, the United Arts of Central Florida will match it 15 percent.
🎶 Timucua Arts Foundation is streaming its past performances through Vimeo and YouTube. AND THEY’RE AMAZING.
🎷 Itching to dust off your old saxophone or maybe start a new hobby? Local sax player and member of Hall and Oates is offering virtual classes for a meager $29.
Foster or adopt an animal
🐶 Concerned for our four-legged friends? Our animal shelters need food, bedding, and cash. And if you’re looking to foster or adopt, they’ve got a furry friend waiting for you. Plus, Pet Alliance launched a new campaign last week to provide free food to pet owners in need through its pet food pantry. They’ve been helping about 100 pets per week since mid-March compared to 20 per month this time last year. Donate here.
🐱 Adopt a pet. Orange County Animal Services is offering virtual adoptions for select animals and they’re updating the list daily. These four kitties need a good home.
Ways to de-stress
🐊 WildFlorida is offering a “wild” listening adventure. Every Wednesday, you can listen in on everything from daybreak on the Florida swamps to giraffes eating their dinner.
💻 The kids are alright. The Orlando Science Center created a new at-home program that includes videos and fun science projects, Amazon is offering free online courses for your future computer science whiz, the Kennedy Space Center is showing us all how to build rockets, and the local library is coming in clutch with homework help.
📚 PBS launched a new online initiative to help with the home-schooling of students during the time of the coronavirus. WUCF, our local PBS channel, is broadcasting a “Learn At-Home Schedule” for various school-age groups.
🚀 The Kennedy Space Center has also joined in on the fun of keeping kids entertained and educated while home. Employees are teaching science lessons, like how to build a rocket, through Facebook Live.
🏰 You don’t need a FastPass to ride these Disney rides after all. You can experience Slinky Dog Dash, Space Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean virtually. 😐 Hey, the kids will love it.
📚 How about a bedtime story? Queen Isabella from the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament live shows is reading bedtime stories on the web. So are astronauts from the International Space Station and Ms. Molly, an associate curator at Orlando Museum of Art, who’s tying her storytelling back to a piece of art currently on display at the museum. 😍
📸 Spice up your zoom call. Support local photographer Steven Madow by downloading one of his Orlando prints to be used as a background versus showing the whole office your dirty laundry.
✍️ Complete the Census. Now even more than ever, it’s important to fill out the census. The findings of the census will determine the amount of resources available to our city and state.
Know of something else we should include here? Volunteer opportunities, online events or other ways for folks to get involved while staying safe? Send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “bulletin board” and we’ll add it in.