Supporting Community Organizations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In true polar bear fashion, many members of the Bowdoin community have expressed interest in helping those most affected by this unprecedented crisis. As we grapple with keeping ourselves and our communities safe, we are eager to support the organizations on the front lines working to meet the basic needs of vulnerable populations as well as those facing new hardships as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

General Volunteer Guidelines 

  • Bowdoin College and the McKeen Center strongly recommend that any person who has recently travelled, been in contact with someone diagnosed with or under investigation for COVID-19, or shown signs of illness per CDC guidelines.  
  • Because this is a global crisis, the needs and resources of each community can look very different. For students who have left Brunswick and are seeking ways to support their local communities, please reach out to food pantries, homeless shelters, emergency crisis teams, health centers, or other organizations in your area to find out how you can best support their specific needs. 
  • Any direct volunteer activity must be done on an individual basis and is not affiliated with a Bowdoin College or McKeen Center program.  As we learn more about remote and virtual volunteering, the McKeen Center may develop new opportunities for engagement.  
  • All volunteers should connect directly with the organization and abide by their guidelines and safety procedures. Your contact might be a volunteer or programming coordinator, guidance counselor, teacher, or other organization leader. 
  • If you are looking for ways to support the greater Brunswick community at this timeplease see our suggestions further down. Be sure to check organization websites for the most up-to-date information. 

Virtual Volunteering

  • With many states and countries locked down and social distancing practices in effect globally, there are still ways you can support local organizations without risking community spread. Many organizations have created or adapted existing volunteer opportunities to be done remotely. Consider reaching out to organizations in your area to see what their needs are and if there are ways you can volunteer virtually.
  • Many organizations are seeking monetary and material donations. Online or mailed donations are a great way to help while practicing social distancing! 
  • Help educate your peers and neighbors about COVID-19, the current needs of your community, and what organizations close to you are doing to help. 
  • Remember that staying at home, practicing social distancing, and following federal, state, and CDC guidelines is in and of itself a way to support your community!

Volunteering In Person

  • While many organizations are seeking monetary donations or offering virtual volunteer opportunities, some have needs that require in-person volunteers. If you are considering volunteering in person, some things to consider include:
    • Are you, or someone you live with, at higher risk for contracting or experiencing complications from COVID-19? (See CDC criteria)
      •  IF SO, PLEASE CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR AND/OR SELF-ISOLATE; SEEK VIRTUAL VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES INSTEAD
    • Have you been in contact with anyone who has shown symptoms, been tested for, and/or diagnosed with COVID-19?
      • IF SO, PLEASE CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR AND/OR SELF-ISOLATE; SEEK VIRTUAL VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES INSTEAD
    • What safety precautions are being taken by the organization to ensure your safety and the safety of those you're interacting with (particularly if that includes vulnerable populations)?
    • Are you able to abide by all restrictions and meet all criteria set forth by the organization?
    • Does your state have lockdown measures in place that would prevent you from volunteering in person?

Blood Donation

  • As the coronavirus pandemic has grown, over 9,000 blood drives have been cancelled across the U.S. The need for blood products right now is critical and ongoing, and donating is currently classified as an essential service exempt from stay at home orders. Bowdoin is answering this call through partnerships with Maine Health and The American Red Cross, as well as through a collaborative Bowdoin/Bates/Colby competition to encourage young healthy students to get out and donate. Learn more here.

Specific Needs Identified by Brunswick Community Partners

  • ArtVan's mobile model, which brings therapeutic arts programming directly into underserved neighborhoods, has shifted in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Though they can't teach Youth Programming in person, they're creating handmade journals to distribute to Youth Artists. Each journal contains guidance for projects involving growth, change, support, challenge, joy, etc., and comes with individual creation-kits containing markers, glue sticks, and various other brand-new and sanitized art-making materials. To support their work you can sponsor a Youth directly for $23, or purchase art supplies for ArtVan to distribute. Donate here or contact jo@artvanprogram.org

  • Independence Association, which supports adults and children with disabilities in the Brunswick area through their nine group homes and associated programming, is seeking monetary contributions (donate online at https://www.independenceassociation.org/donate). They are also seeking material donations, which can be dropped off under the portico at 3 Industrial Parkway in Brunswick (please call 504-0386 to let officials know to expect the drop-off) OR ordered online through their Amazon Wishlist. Needs include:
    • Flat bedsheets to make more hospital gowns
    • Protective masks and safety goggles (learn how to make masks here)
    • Disposable masks and gowns
    • Bedside commodes

  • Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Programis shifting to an alternate food distribution model and would welcome monetary donations. Every $1 donated can be leveraged into roughly $8 worth of food through their partnership with Good Shepherd Food Bank. Donate online at www.mchpp.org/donate. 

  • Mid Coast Hospital has established a COVID-19 Response Fund to support their doctors, nurses, and other care workes. Financial donations can be made online at https://fundraising.mmc.org/covid-19-response-fund, where you can select the option of directing your donation to Mid Coast Hospital. In addition to seeking childcare and food donations for health care providers (learn more here), Mid Coast Hospital is also seeking donations of new and unused medical supplies. Medical supplies donations are now being centrally coordinated through MaineHealth. This will help direct resources appropriately and make sure your donation is best utilized. Please visit https://mainehealth.org/donate to complete a brief form, and someone will contact you directly regarding drop off locations. Needs include:
    • N95 Masks (usually made by 3M or Kimberly Clark but we will accept any brand) 
    • Paper masks (with ties or elastic) 
    • Paper protective gowns 
    • Protective glasses/goggles (can be previously used) 
    • Nitrile gloves 

  • Tedford Housing's adult shelter will be open 24/7 for it's 16 guests with new safety restrictions in place. In addition to monetary donations (donate online at Tedford Housing), they are asking for the following donations; please contact Jennifer Iacovelli via email or call 207-729-1161 ext. 101 to coordinate your donation: 
    • Food including pantry items such as sugar, bread, peanut butter, jelly, pasta, etc.
    • Food supplies including paper plates/bowls/cups, plastic silverware, storage and sandwich bags
    • Cleaning supplies and paper products, including all purpose-cleaner, antibacterial wipes or sprays, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. 
    • Safety supplies including masks, non-latex gloves, and hand sanitizer 
    • Trash Bags
    • Sanitary Pads (not tampons)
    • Laundry detergent 
    • Entertainment such as crossword puzzle books, word find books, games, etc. 
       
  • PPE Face Shields - Do you have a 3D printer and are looking for something to do while staying at home? Bowdoin College is looking for volunteers to help create PPE Face Shields to be distributed to medical workers around the state. The small team is currently able to make about 25 of these per day, but they are seeing requests for thousands. Your time and effort could really make a difference! Information on the PPE Face Shields they are creating can be found here. Email Erin Johnson at ejohnso2@bowdoin.edu for more information. 

  • The Emergency Action Network (TEAN), which supports children and families in the Brunswick area by identifying and responding to community needs, is collecting monetary donations (donate online at www.emergencyactionnetwork.com/current-donation-needsto help respond to needs such as food, medications, diapers, formula, etc. Material donations, as listed at the link above, should be dropped at the Hawthorne Building located at 46 Federal Street in Brunswick and marked “TEAN DONATION.” They are also seeking donations of refrigerators/freezers to help families minimize trips to the grocery store; please contact Avery Friend at afriend@bowdoin.edu if you can help. 

  • United Way's Diaper Project is seeking diaper donations, specifically sizes 3-6. In the current environment, they are unable to purchase the bulk amount that are needed to keep the program running. If you have access to diapers, or can find some available for purchase, please consider donating them to the Diaper Project. They can be mailed to United Way of Mid Coast Maine, 34 Wing Farm Parkway, Bath ME 04530, or they can be dropped off in the collection bin outside the building by the main entrance. 

  • United Way of Mid Coast Maine has established a COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund. 100% of donations will go to initiatives and agencies that are working hard to meet the increased needs of local people. Additionally, they are communicating with community organizations to identify their volunteer needs and plan to update their website as opportunities become known. 

  • For a more comprehensive list of needs and opportunities to support the Greater Brunswick community, visit this link. 

 Page Updated 4/27/2020