Where you can donate this Chanukah to help out during the pandemic

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jar filled with coins
Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay

By Justin Regan

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive physical, financial and emotional harm to millions of Americans, and many experts assume things will only get worse, with the number of cases growing and CARES Act benefits expected to end on Dec. 26.


For those wanting a way to help out, we’ve put together a list of organizations you can donate to that help people in the Jewish community or the region.

The Associated’s COVID Emergency Fund

The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore provides funding to various groups who support vulnerable members of the community. This includes, among others, Jewish Community Services, Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc., Meals on Wheels and SHEMESH. The pandemic has put a strain on these organizations and the emergency fund was created “to adjust our programs and provide for the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Donate at associated.org.

Bikur Cholim

Bikur Cholim provides support services to Jews affected by medical issues. More than just providing rides, visiting patients, lending medical equipment and advocating for specialists, the organization also helps patients and their families find rest and vital Jewish services (especially those from out of town). This includes providing housing and kosher meals along with rides on Shabbat and other holidays.

Donate to Bikur Cholim of Baltimore at baltimorebikurcholim.org.

Donate to Bikur Cholim of Greater Washington at bikurcholimgw.org.

Boys & Girls Clubs

The Boys & Girls Clubs works to empower and support children and teenagers to help them reach their full potential. This is done by creating a safe place for kids to go when they are not in school, mentorship opportunities and various educational programs. Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington has been providing free childcare for essential workers during the pandemic.

Donate to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore at bgcmetrobaltimore.org.

Donate to Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington at bgcgw.org.

CHANA/JCADA

Experts and activists the world over say the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent quarantining, has caused an increase in domestic violence cases. CHANA in Baltimore and JCADA in Greater Washington provide a Jewish-centric focus on helping people who experience domestic violence, sexual trauma and any form of power-based abuse. Services include providing shelter (or assistance finding a shelter), counseling, crisis intervention, legal advocacy, support groups and community education.

Donate to CHANA at chanabaltimore.org.

Donate to JCADA at jcada.org.

Community Assistance Network

CAN works to help low-income residents of Baltimore County achieve personal growth, stability and self-sufficiency. Services include various forms of financial support, budget counseling, after-school programs, housing and transportation assistance, job interview assistance, food pantries, homeless shelters and educational workshops. CAN does this by working with more than 500 community partners and is also part of a larger nationwide collection of community action agencies created as a result of the activism of Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.

Donate at canconnects.org.

Hebrew Free Loan Association

The Hebrew Free Loan Association provides interest free loans to Jews who need help making payments. Loans can be taken out for a number of reasons such as car payments, education, medical needs, b’nai mitzvah expenses and small business help. This also includes emergency loans for people affected by the pandemic.

Donate to Hebrew Free Loan Association of Baltimore at hebrewfreeloan.org.

Donate to Hebrew Free Loan Assocation of Greater Washington at hebrewfreeloandc.org.

Living Classrooms Foundation

Living Classrooms Foundation employs a “learning by doing” philosophy to disrupt the cycle of poverty and build safer, stronger and healthier communities. This is accomplished through special environmental classrooms, athletic leagues, health activities, workforce development and safe street programs. Living Classrooms currently has a COVID-19 Community Needs and Recovery Fund, which provides food distribution, unemployment help, distance learning and well-being check-ins.

Donate at livingclassrooms.org.

Maryland Food Bank/Capital Area Food Bank

The Maryland and Capital Area Food Banks are the flagship food providers to hundreds of shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries across the state of Maryland and the Beltway (this includes the Capital Kosher Pantry). Officials with both food banks say one dollar donated equals multiple meals provided. This is because food banks have a much greater buying power with food than most grocery store patrons. Both organizations also accept food donations and encourage people to host food drives (including virtual ones).

Donate to Maryland Food Bank at mdfoodbank.org.

Donate to Capital Area Food Bank at capitalareafoodbank.org.

Yad Yehuda of Greater Washington

In addition to providing emergency funding to people facing financial hardships, Yad Yehuda also assists with vital Jewish services. Through their Tomchei Shabbos program, recipients are provided fresh challot and gift cards so they can shop for food for Shabbat and other holidays. Yad Yehuda also operates the Capital Kosher Pantry. They are accepting applications for emergency funding from people who have been affected by the pandemic.

Donate at yadyehuda.org.

Justin Regan is a freelance writer. He produces the American Rabbi Project podcast.

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