Jeff Jacoby: Charity in the time of coronavirus

Jeff Jacoby is the sage Boston Globe columnist and author of the email newsletter Arguable, to which you can subscribe (I subscribe and recommend it) here. This is the first item in Jeff’s newsletter this morning, under the heading I have borrowed above, and I am posting it below (minus its many links before the last two) with Jeff’s kind permission:

The spreading pandemic is making life miserable in countless ways. But even the blackest clouds have silver linings and one of them is that when times are at their worst, so many people rise to their best. Having often remarked on the extraordinary generosity of ordinary Americans, I never doubted that philanthropists and established charities would rise to the occasion in a myriad of wonderful ways. But more heartwarming and uplifting by far are the countless private individuals and businesses stepping up to show what it means to love thy neighbor as thyself.

The lion’s share of media attention is, inevitably, focused on what politicians are doing to respond to the crisis, either by issuing orders or spending public funds. But if you want to see genuine goodness amid the gloom of COVID-19, check out some of the ways that people and companies of every description are voluntarily reaching deep into their own pockets to help fellow Americans (and others) in distress:

U-Haul is offering free self-storage for all college students whose plans for the semester have been upended.

The major cellphone carriers are waiving late fees, upgrading data plans to unlimited, and pledging that no one’s service is terminated for inability to pay their bills.

McAlister’s Deli restaurants in Illinois are offering free take-out lunches to any children in their community while schools are shut down.

So are restaurants in Phoenix, Ariz. And Knoxville, Tenn. And Augusta, Ga. And the Carolinas. And Western Pennsylvania. And the Minneapolis area. And greater Baltimore. And Cincinnati.

Not only kids are eating free: Medium Rare, a DC steakhouse, is delivering free steak dinners to seniors (70 and older) who have been trapped by the coronavirus quarantine rules.

Hook Hall, a popular bar in Washington, DC, has transformed itself into a relief center to provide food and household essentials to service workers who have been laid off.

ITtelligent offers free tech support for any company that needs it, free of charge. Its only condition: “that you pay it forward by providing your services to another business.”

Sunwing airlines is issuing free plane tickets home to any Canadians who have been stranded abroad by coronavirus restrictions.

Author/journalist Shea Serrano has been sending cash to anyone on social media who asks for help. As of Sunday, he had given away just under $26,000 in $200 and $300 gifts.

Starbucks is adding $10 million to its CUP (Caring Unites Partners) fund to support employees who find themselves in sudden financial distress.

Verizon is donating $5 million to No Kid Hungry, which aids vulnerable children, and $5 million more to Direct Relief, which provides protective equipment and essential medical items to frontline health workers.

Numerous distilleries — including Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta, Durham Distillery in North Carolina, Shine Distillery in Portland, Ore., and Moonrise Distillery in Georgia — have diverted supplies of alcohol normally used to make whiskey into manufacturing hand sanitizer, which they are giving away for free.

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and his wife Ciara are donating 1 million meals to a local foodbank in Seattle.

Steph and Ayesha Curry are doing something similar in Oakland.

As is Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.

Blake Griffin of the Pistons is giving $100,000 to support workers at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Ditto the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo on behalf of employees at Fiserv Forum.

And Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans, who will underwrite the salaries of Smoothie King arena workers for the next 30 days.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert is donating half a million dollars — $200,000 to the employee relief fund at his team’s arena in Salt Lake City, $100,000 each to coronavirus-related social services in Utah and Oklahoma City, plus a similar amount to coronavirus relief in his native France.

Microsoft has donated $1 million to COVID-19 relief efforts in Puget Sound.

Caffé Nero outlets, like the one in my neighborhood near Boston’s Longwood medical area, are providing free coffee, tea, and chocolate to all health care workers.

Most of us aren’t in a position to make such lavish and generous gifts. But nearly all of us can help in some way. Numerous charities are doing their best to meet the needs of people affected by this economic and medical blow, and even modest donations can help. Here is a list of philanthropies that are doing vital work and would welcome your help. Food banks in particular need supporting: Find one in your area and consider donating money or time.

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