COVID-19 Help: How to Donate & Volunteer
Donate to COVID-19 Funds
Donate Homemade Masks
Complete the 2020 U.S. Census
Apply to Be a COVID-19 Contact Tracer
Other Ways to Help
Donate to COVID-19 Funds
Donate to the Somerville Cares COVID-19 Fund
The Somerville Cares COVID-19 Fund supports the essential needs of Somerville community members most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund will provide emergency funding to Somerville residents and Somerville workers, regardless of immigration status, to help cover basic needs including, but not limited to, food, medications, rent, utilities, childcare, and other basic necessities. The fund is hosted by the United Way and administered by the Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS).
All donations, no matter what level, demonstrate Somerville’s resilience in support of our diversity and our strength. To make a donation and to learn more, go to www.somervillema.gov/SomervilleCares.
Donate to Local Organizations Working on COVID-19 Response
If you are interested in making a monetary donation to a local non-profit agency supporting residents at this time please see the below list. In the interest of safety, at this time the City of Somerville is not facilitating donations of household goods (clothing, small appliances, linens, etc.) that are not directly related to health and safety.
If you have a suggestion of another local organization to include in this list, please email Chris Hosman at [email protected].
Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund
The Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief fund supports frontline workers, households affected by COVID-19, immigrant and undocumented populations, food security, people with disabilities, and those facing homelessness in Massachusetts. The fund was established by First Lady Lauren Baker and the One8 Foundation and will distribute money to charitable organizations across the state that are helping vulnerable populations respond to the impacts of COVID-19.
- Project SOUP runs a food pantry at 165 Broadway. You can support the food pantry by making a donation through the Somerville Homeless Coalition website. When making a donation online you can designate your donation to “Food pantry/ Project SOUP” under “If you have a special purpose for your donation, please let us know.”
- Food for Free is delivering 3,000 - 4,000 pounds of food per day from the Greater Boston Food Bank to the City of Somerville for their supplemental food pantry during the COVID-19 crisis. Food for Free runs food rescue and access programs in Somerville and Cambridge.
- Community Cooks is partnering with Forge Bakery to deliver ready-to-eat meals to Somerville residents who are in quarantine. These meals help to supplement the grocery bags provided by the City’s food pantry.
The Somerville Homeless Coalition continues to provide shelter for the homeless and move people into permanent housing where possible. SHC also runs the PROJECT SOUP food program which addresses food insecurity in the community.
Diapers, wipes, and formula for Somerville families
The Beautiful Stuff Project is working in conjunction with the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative to raise money for diapers, wipes and formula for Somerville families with infants and toddlers. These are packaged and distributed every Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the same schools where food is being distributed.
Domestic Abuse Support
Respond is requesting donations to support their 24-hour domestic abuse hotline which is of critical importance during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Welcome ProjectImmigrant Assistance Fund provides financial support to residents of Somerville, Medford, Everett, Malden, and Cambridge affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of immigration status.
The MassUndocufund for COVID-19 Relief provides financial support to undocumented workers living in Massachusetts who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greater Boston Legal Services helps low-income families and individuals secure the most basic necessities of life: shelter, safety, food, and stability.
- If you are a business interested in donating quantities of hand sanitizer, soap, or toiletries please contact Chris Hosman at [email protected].
- If you are a business interested in donating groceries please contact Food for Free.
- If you are a business interested in donating prepared meals please contact [email protected] to be matched with a local non-profit.
This information and links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or approval by the City of Somerville of the linked websites, or the information, products or services contained therein. The City of Somerville does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. The City of Somerville bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external site or that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.
Volunteer with State and Regional Response
The Metro East Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and the MA Responds COVID-19 Response Team are seeking volunteers of all skill levels with medical and non-medical experience. The Metro East MRC is a local initiative, while the COVID-19 response team is statewide. You can sign up for both at the same time by creating a MA Responds profile.
To sign up, select COVID-19 Response Team and/or Metro East MRC by clicking the orange plus sign under “Add Organizations” in the application and select the teams you would like to volunteer for. Please note that Metro East MRC is part of Region 4B - Greater Boston. Questions about the Metro East MRC can be directed to Mia Nardini at [email protected].
Volunteer with City of Somerville Efforts
Currently, the City of Somerville has limited opportunities for volunteers but is building a reserve of volunteers to draw upon should they be needed. If you are interested in volunteering for City or School initiatives, please note that in most instances you will need an approved CORI (required background check) with either the City of Somerville or Somerville Public Schools. Please see the below contacts for volunteering:
- If you’re interested in supporting the City of Somerville’s Grocery Delivery Program or would like to be notified of other City of Somerville volunteer opportunities, please contact Jennifer Mancia, City of Somerville's Community Service Manager, at [email protected].
- Community-based organizations with volunteer inquiries and needs may reach out to Jennifer Mancia at [email protected].
- If you are interested in supporting the Council on Aging, please contact Natasha Naim, LCSW, at [email protected]rvillema.gov.
Once you have made contact with one of the above staff members and provided all the necessary information, you will be placed on a list and notified of opportunities as they arise. Please do not expect an immediate response as the current focus is on running necessary services utilizing a limited number of staff and volunteers whenever possible for the safety of the community.
Check In on Elderly Residents
Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services is looking for volunteers to help with making check-in phone calls to elder residents regarding COVID-19. There is a particular need for volunteers who speak Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, or Haitian. A CORI/background is required.
Volunteer to Help a Neighbor through a Mutual Aid Network
See if there is a need you can fill for a neighbor through a mutual aid network. Mutual aid networks, like Medford and Somerville Mutual Aid (MAMAs), are grassroots efforts to connect those with needs to those who might be able to provide help. Read more about how mutual aid organizations operate in this New York Times article, which highlights the efforts of MAMAs.
These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the City of Somerville of the linked websites, or the information, products, or services contained therein. The City of Somerville does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. The City of Somerville bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external site or that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.
Donate Homemade Masks
The City is collecting donations of cloth masks to give out to residents who might have trouble obtaining or making their own. The goal is to collect 10,000 donated masks.
If you are interested in making and donating homemade masks, please follow this guidance:
- Please use cotton. The material should have a tight weave.
- Use at least two layers of fabric.
- Masks should fit snugly against the side of the face and be secured with ties or ear loops.
- Masks should be machine washable and sturdy enough to be reused.
There are numerous patterns for fabric face masks that meet these guidelines. The CDC has simple illustrated instructions for a sewn cloth mask, which can be found here. Gather Here has also compiled a number of resources and instructions for sewing masks.
To donate masks, place them in a sealed bag and put them in the book drop-off slot at either the Central Library, 79 Highland Ave., or the East Branch Library, 115 Broadway.
Porter Square Dry Cleaners has generously volunteered to launder the donated masks. Once the masks have been washed, they will be distributed with vulnerable populations getting first priority.
Complete the 2020 U.S. Census
The U.S. Census is a count of every person living in the United States that happens once every 10 years. The Census is used to determine how to allocate more than $675 billion dollars for healthcare services, hospitals, schools, housing, emergency preparedness, and more - all things that are critical to everyday life and during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. The Census is also used to determine political representation at the federal, state, and local level. You can complete the U.S. Census safely from your home online or by phone in 13 languages. Census guides and videos are available in 59 other languages.
Each household should complete one Census form that includes all people living in that household, including any family members, roommates, children, and anyone staying with you even temporarily. Immigrants must also complete the Census, regardless of their immigration status.
Your Census information is confidential and protected by law. It is illegal for the U.S. Census Bureau to share your information with anyone including your landlord, the police, courts, ICE, DHS, IRS, or the FBI.
Apply to Be a COVID-19 Contact Tracer
As part of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC), Partners in Health is seeking to hire, train, and deploy Contact Tracers across the state to call people who have been in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients. Contract Tracers can perform all work from home. In conjunction with Governor Baker’s effort to increase COVID-19 testing across Massachusetts, this initiative will serve as a key component of the statewide strategy to control the spread of the virus. Apply online here.
Other Ways to Help
Donate Personal Protective Equipment
CHA is asking for donations of new and unused:
- N95 Masks (usually made by 3M or KC Duckbill but any brand will be accepted)
- Paper masks (with ties or elastic)
- Paper protective gowns
- Protective glasses/goggles (can be previously used)
- Touchless digital thermometers
Items can be dropped off with the public safety officers at the entrance of Somerville Hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Items can also be shipped to CHA Somerville, 33 Tower Street, Somerville, MA 02143 Attn: Receiving Donations. Requests and inquiries can be sent to [email protected].
Somerville Hospital is requesting donations of homemade personal protective equipment (PPE). Here’s how you can sew masks to help CHA providers:
- Use cotton, such as cotton sheets.
- Create the mask using two layers of material and include a "pocket" on the inside where the mask touches the face so that a filter can be inserted.
- CHA recommends using this pattern from Gather Here in Cambridge. Here is a video tutorial with additional guidance.
- For more info on dimensions of cotton and alternatives to elastic ties, click here.
- When complete, bring the masks to Somerville Hospital (or Cambridge or Everett Hospital) and drop them off at the main entrance with Public Safety. Please provide your name and email address so CHA can say thank you.
There is a severe blood shortage due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Red Cross is coordinating blood drives in the area and has a list of upcoming local drives. Appointments are required. Schedule online or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
The Red Cross urges eligible and healthy donors to make an appointment to give soon, but asks that anyone who has traveled to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea to postpone their donation for 28 days. If you have been diagnosed with or have had contact with anyone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, please postpone your donation. Other eligibility requirements can be found here.
Recovered COVID-19 Patients: Donate Plasma
In coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Red Cross is seeking people who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening condition. Interested individuals can visit RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid to learn more and, if eligible, sign up to help.
Support Local Businesses
Continue to support Somerville restaurants by ordering takeout or delivery. Visit somervilledelivers.com for a full list of restaurants open for delivery or takeout. Don’t forget to tip generously.
- Buy a gift card to a business you frequent often or shop online if available.
- If you can, keep paying for services, like haircuts, gym classes, music lessons, cleaning services, etc., that you would otherwise be using.
- Leave a positive comment or review on a favorite local business’s social media accounts. A little positive support can go a long way.
During this time when we are social distancing, it is still important to build community and connect with one another. Consider ways you can safely connect with your neighbors. Here are a few ideas:
- Put a friendly sign in your window or start something like the rainbow hunt that neighbors started around Prospect Hill. Positive messages feel good to share and it can be a fun activity to try to find them when walking around.
- Check in on a neighbor (staying at least 6 feet away) and offer assistance.
- Leave a sidewalk note with chalk to a neighbor or friend that you miss visiting.
- Are you musically inclined? Share a song from your porch with your neighbors or host a distant sing-a-long from your own porches or windows.
Donate the Value of Your P-EBT Card
Many families with children that attend Somerville Public Schools have received a P-EBT Card in the mail, which provides financial assistance to buy groceries. If you do not need the extra money to buy groceries and you would like to donate your card, please use the card to buy food for your own family and donate the value of the card to the Somerville Cares Fund which provides emergency financial assistance to families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
All families with children enrolled in the free breakfast/lunch program, and all families with children that attend universal free lunch schools (Somerville High School, Healey School, Winter Hill School, East Somerville Community School, and Next Wave/Full Circle) will automatically be sent a P-EBT card. For more information about P-EBT, please see Food Assistance.
Be Kind to Essential Workers
Essential workers like grocers, pharmacists, medical professionals, trash and recycling haulers, delivery drivers, and others are all doing incredible work helping our community during this pandemic. Show them some extra kindness during this stressful time by saying thank you and, if appropriate, tipping extra.