In times of need, neighbors always look out for each other. No one knows that better than Pittsburghers, who thanks to Fred Rogers, know something about being good neighbors.
Amid the deepening coronavirus crisis, more and more neighbors, organizations and companies are coming forward, some with offers of help, some of them seeking volunteers or donations.
Below are nine resources for getting help, or providing help to those in need.
Blood donors needed
Fears of coronavirus are severely affecting blood donations. Vitalant, formerly the Central Blood Bank, is struggling to maintain inventories to avoid a critical blood shortage. Due to school and business closures, blood collections have dropped dramatically. Donations are needed to help patients recovering from cancer, trauma, obstetrics, surgery and other medical issues. Dr. Darrell Triulzi, medical director of Vitalant Clinical Services, says it’s extremely important for healthy people to make an appointment to donate blood by calling 877-258-4825 or going online to vitalant.org. Vitalant in Pittsburgh has expanded the hours at its donation centers, listed here.
Small business help
The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is taking several steps to help businesses affected by the current crisis. For one, the URA is halting all loan payments for URA small business borrowers for the month of April. Secondly, the URA is offering to its small business borrowers Emergency Extended Credit to help ease cash flow difficulties over the next several weeks. Loans are up to an additional $15,000 with no interest. The special loans are only available to existing URA small business borrowers. Lastly, the URA is streamlining its Micro-Enterprise Loan Program to support up to 30 small businesses that are not currently URA borrowers. Loans may be used for rent, payroll and other approved fixed monthly business expenses. More information and updates are available on the URA’s COVID-19 resource page.
Grab-and-go meals for kids
Four city recreation centers and Salvation Army sites around Pittsburgh are offering grab-and-go meals for schoolkids starting Thursday. The centers are: Paulson Rec Center, 1201 Paulson Ave.; Warrington Rec Center, 329 E. Warrington Ave.; Salvation Army Homewood, 8020 Frankstown Ave. and the Salvation Army West End, 1821 Broadhead Fording Rd. All meal locations will operate weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pittsburgh Public Schools is providing 100 lunches for each site.
Avoiding falls at home
With beds scarce at nursing homes and personal care facilities, more and more elderly residents may be recovering at home from illness and falls. Caring Transitions Three Rivers offers a fee-based service to make sure a home is free from hazards that could result from a fall. A team will visit the home and make sure the living space is as safe as possible. The team will sort and organize belongings, eliminate clutter, remove excess furniture and make sure there is clearance for a walker or wheelchair. The cost is about $50 per hour. For more information, call 412-612-2273 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free meals for restaurant workers
You may not be familiar with a nonprofit known as Basic Health International, but it has offices in Pittsburgh as well as in New York and El Salvador. Its goal is to eliminate cervical cancer, which is a leading cause of death in many countries and disproportionately affects women in low- and middle-income countries. The organization recently launched a fundraising campaign but has raised less than $6,000 of its $30,000 goal. The drive has stalled due to the COVID-19 crisis. For more information or to make a donation, click here.
Allegheny County Council will hold its meetings as scheduled, but members are being asked to call in and the county is discouraging the public from attending in person. You can watch a livestream and submit public comments online. The next council meeting is Tuesday, March 24 at 5 p.m. To submit comments online, go here. To watch the livestream, go here.