How to Help

How to Help in San Diego County During the Coronavirus Pandemic

From donations to the San Diego Food Bank to the American Red Cross, there are many ways to lend a hand to fellow San Diegans

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The coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in San Diego County and beyond. Here are some ways to help fellow San Diegans struggling during these difficult times.

Medical Equipment Donations
Organizations or individuals can donate masks, gowns, face shields and other much-needed medical equipment through this partnership with Rady Children’s Foundation and Rock Church. To donate personal protective equipment, call (800) 258-0007 or reach hospital reps via email at DonateCOVID19@rchsd.org. Donations must be new, sealed and in original packaging. In April, the greatest needs were included disposable thermometers; face shields; eye shields; isolation gowns; goggles; disinfecting wipes; hand sanitizer; exam gloves.

Meanwhile, Sharp Rees-Stealy is also accepting donations of items like cloth face coverings for patients and medical masks for health care providers. Tablets and phone chargers are also being accepted at several Sharp Rees-Stealy locations. Learn all about that here.

Volunteer Opportunities
According to San Diego County, there are several local organizations currently in need of volunteers. You can check out those via the JustServe website here, and also by emailing COVID19-volunteers@sdcounty.ca.gov. Current organizations running projects in need of volunteers include the Encinitas Union School District’s COVID-19: Bags of Love, and the San Diego Unified School District, which needs helping hands to bag and distribute food to families in need while schools across the county remain closed.

San Diego Hunger Coalition
The San Diego Hunger Coalition works with 150+ partners across the county on an ongoing mission to make sure locals have enough to eat. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization’s mission work is clearer than ever. The SDHC said it is working to expand access to food assistance in San Diego County and will be updating the public on those efforts via this website. You can donate to the SDHC here, or learn about other ways to help through the organization here.

San Diegans who are food insecure amid the coronavirus pandemic can go to a food distribution event held by Feeding San Diego.

Feeding San Diego
Feeding San Diego provides more than 26 million meals every year to children, families, seniors, college students, military families, veterans, people facing homelessness and other under-served populations. FSD partners with more than 300 local organizations to help feed hungry San Diegans.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Feeding San Diego is posting updates on its response to help locals via this resource page.

The organization has been expanding the number of locations around San Diego County where people in need can pick up food. Click here for a list of regular food distribution sites (or see below for a list of newly added Covid-19 emergency food-distribution locations). The organization says it is not accepting volunteers, but there are other ways to help. Want to donate food to Feeding San Diego, especially if you are associated with a restaurant forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions? Send an email here. Go here to make a financial donation to FSD, click here to start a fundraiser, or use this link to find language to post on social media to help spread the word about what Feeding San Diego is doing to help the county’s residents in their time of need.

Here is a list of recently added Feeding San Diego Covid-19 emergency food-distribution sites:

  • East: 3/20/2, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Salvation Army, El Cajon 1025 East Main St., El Cajon
  • Central: 3/21/20, 10 a.m.,Labor Council, SDCCU Stadium’s northeast lot, 9449 Friars Road, San Diego
  • South, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m., Community Through Hope, Eucalyptus Park, 436 C St., Chula Vista

San Diego Food Bank
The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and the North County Food Bank are continuing their food distribution programs at more than 200 sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Food Bank provides food assistance and resources to 350,000 every month and plans to continue its good work in the times of the coronavirus crisis. The San Diego Food Bank continues to operate 200 food distribution centers across the county, with health guidelines and precautions in place.

To help the Food Bank, you can donate here online, or you can partake in a “Virtual Food Drive” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, here. You can also call them at (866) 350-3663. According to the San Diego Food Bank, every $1 that is donated can provide five meals to San Diegans in need.

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American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties
The American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties helps more than 3.6 million people across 10,000 square miles with urgent humanitarian relief in times of crisis. A couple of ways to help: via a financial donation here, or by donating blood at one of the organization’s blood drives. You can find blood drive locations here.

Both the San Diego Blood Bank and American Red Cross have been asking locals to consider donating blood amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The U.S. Surgeon General last month urged all healthy Americans – especially young adults – to consider donating blood to help fight a potential nationwide shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement,” Jerome Adams said at a White House press briefing in which he urged anyone who can to “give blood today.” 

San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund at The San Diego Foundation
The San Diego Foundation said Thursday it had already collected $4 million in donations from San Diegans to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. A rapid response grant of $250,000 will be granted to United Way of San Diego County.

That money will be used to provide safety net funding for rent, mortgage and utility payments for low-wage individuals and families impacted by layoffs and reduced working hours as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

 “You can clearly see the community is coming together to help one another by the simple fact this fund added $4 million dollars in the first 72 hours after its launch. We are grateful for every contribution to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher in a press release. “The generosity of San Diegans will jumpstart our community’s recovery from this virus.”

To donate to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund at the San Diego Foundation, click here.

One hundred percent of donations to the San Diego COVID-19 Response Fund will be provided to nonprofits helping San Diegans impacted by the coronavirus. Funds will be released on a rolling basis as fundraising continues throughout the coronavirus outbreak and its recovery phases, the San Diego Foundation said Thursday.

Jewish Family Service
JFS has multiple programs aimed at helping different populations around San Diego. Some programs include a Foodmobile which delivers food to people over the age of 60, On the Go which helps transport people to doctor appointments and grocery stores, and its food pantry which is currently handing out pre-bagged food, drive-thru style. The outbreak has changed how some of its assistance programs are operating, but a current list can be found here.

The organization also launched its Emergency Assistance Fund which is being used to help people affected by COVID-19. JFS says the fund will be used to help pay for medical expenses, rent and mortgage assistance, and childcare just to name a few.

NBC 7's Consumber Bob has more details on how you can help out your community during this coronavirus pandemic.

UC San Diego Medical Center
At the front lines of the pandemic, UC San Diego Medical Center has served those in federal quarantines and is now serving residents in San Diego County. The hospital called on "all researchers and relevant facilities, individuals and organizations to help alleviate the shortage in San Diego."

Those who are able can donate medical-grade procedure and surgical masks, surgical and isolation protective gowns, arm sleeves, googles, eye shields and face shields. UC San Diego Medical Center said it is not accepting hand-sewn masks at this time.

The center is also accepting monetary donations and food items. To learn how to donate, click here.

San Diego Humane Society
The San Diego Humane Society is distributing more than 70,000 pounds of pet food and pet supplies like cat litter, treats, and pet beds to families in need during the COVID-19 crisis. The group is partnering with the San Diego Food Bank, San Diego Unified School District and other local organizations serving senior citizens in our community to make pet food available at their distribution sites. So, how can you help? The San Diego Humane Society depends on donations and is accepting them online here, by texting “sdhumane” to 50155, or even via Facebook. You can also donate items to the SDHS’s Charity Wish List on Amazon, and those items will be shipped directly to the organization.

Serving Seniors
Serving Seniors is an organization that helps seniors in poverty live healthy and fulfilling lives. If you want to make a monetary donation, you can do so here. According to the Serving Seniors website, a $50 donation can buy a senior breakfast for one month, while $100 buys a senior five visits with a social worker. Donations will help the organization provide meals, housing, and supportive services that seniors need to thrive. Volunteering is another option. Anyone donated in helping with the organization's COVID-19 crisis response efforts can reach out to Activities & Volunteer Coordinator Elle Leidy via email at elle.leidy@servingseniors.org.
Update: As of May 19, two months into the stay-at-home orders in California, Serving Seniors is providing more meals than ever to locals in need. Today, the nonprofit is distributing about 7,000 meals daily to low-income seniors, and the group needs ongoing support to keep up with the demand during the pandemic.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities
Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego has provided a “home-away-from-home,” which keeps families close to one another, and the care they need when their child is being treated for serious and often life-threatening conditions at local hospitals. Donations to Ronald McDonald House help strengthen families and bolster their psychological well-being during difficult times by keeping families together regardless of their situation or ability to pay. To donate to the RMHC San Diego, click here. The organization’s programs rely on donations like food items and cleaning products, as well as through its annual raffle fundraiser.


If you know of a local organization doing good for those impacted by the coronavirus, send us a note, here.

If you are in need of resources and help in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, read this guide on how to GET help.

Pitching in During the Pandemic: Stories of San Diegans Doing Good: Read more stories about San Diegans finding creative ways to lend support. Have you heard about a story we should share? Let us know

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