If you are fortunate enough to be able to offer help, but are not sure how, this is the place for you! 

To add/update:

  1. Make and account if you don't yet have one and then return to this page (https://localwiki.org/berkeley/COVID-19/How_to_Help)
  2. Click Edit at the top of the page.
  3. Make changes.
  4. Click Save changes at the bottom of the page.

How to Help



Many volunteer activities are considered essential. Those that require some person-to-person contact can be conducted by healthy individuals under shelter-in-place. Some organizations need help that you can provide remotely, even if you are not well. Please check with these organizations to see what you can do.

Consider volunteerng outside if you fit these conditions:

  • You and your entire household are under 60, healthy, and have no pre-existing conditions 
  • You have no symptoms of illness whatsoever
  • Your household is small or medium (e.g. <=4 people)
  • Your entire household is working remotely or not working
  • Your entire household put together otherwise has a very limited number of total outside contacts (e.g. < 6)

Reconsider volunteering (for now) if you don't meet these conditions. The marginal risk of additional exposure is EXPONENTIALLY higher if you are already in contact with other people. If, however, you are a young person currently living alone, working from home, and not seeing anyone but Netflix, you're a much better candidate to help with essential services right now.

Nearly all of these organizations also need donations, so consider a financial gift if you can't get your hands dirty!

Geography Description Place
Bay Area Drive blood boxes between health facilities for the Red Cross (no car required!) Red Cross
Berkeley Network to help high health-risk individuals / general community aid Berkeley Mutual Aid
Berkeley Homeless services Dorothy Day House
Berkeley Food for the needy Berkeley Food Network On-Site Pantry

Now asking for volunteer expertise in: Carpentry/Building, Art, Craft/Art supplies, Gardening, Project management, Video editing (with the tools at home to do it!), Tech support, Remote learning (i.e. Tech & Teaching).

Aid for families and teachers in the public school system transitioning to remote learning

Berkeley Public Schools Fund
Berkeley Aid to homeless communities Consider the homeless
Berkeley Aid to BUSD students and families Berkeley Public Schools Fund
Berkeley/Oakland Delivering food to pantries and other food service orgs Daily Bread
Berkeley/Oakland Delivering personal protective equipment to hospitals Pick up PPE
Alameda County Food bank (various needs) Alameda County Community Food Bank
East Bay Build housing for homeless youth (essential service!) Youth Spirit Artworks
Alameda County Meals for seniors (can volunteer for many types of tasks, including administrative) Alameda County Meals on Wheels
California Centralized list of organizations/ideas (non-comprehensive) californiavolunteers
California Join CA  COVID-19 emergency medical worker task force CA Health Corps
Oakland Network to help high health-risk individuals / general community aid Oakland At Risk



All the organizations taking volunteers also need donations. Many local non-profits will be needing support as our governments go into austerity mode, stock markets dry up, and needs multiply; it is impossible to list everyone who need help here.

In addition, consider the organizations/ideas below.

Geography Description Place
Oakland Support for undocumented workers who have lost their jobs/income as a result of the pandemic, but cannot draw on usual supports such as UI. OUR Fund
Berkeley/Oakland (and nationwide) Donate blood - severe shortage Red Cross
Berkeley Support people experiencing homelessness AND local restaurants Double Helping Hands

Donate unused personal protective equipment (surgical masks, N95 masks, gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer, bleach wipes); help the mask supply chain.

PPE donation form; mask making instructions/list of hospitals taking themmask supply resources/needs from Cal Public Health
South Berkeley Email Maya or Brianna if you are able to sew masks for the South Berkeley Mask Drive - they'll help you out! Maya ([email protected]) or Brianna ([email protected])
Berkeley Grassroots aid to homeless encampments (providing tents, food, outhouses, handwashing). Generally act w/o city approval but do try to work with the city. Where do we go Berkeley
Berkeley Help pay the stipends of the wonderful people who keep downtown Berkeley and Telegraph clean. Downtown Streets Team
Berkeley Donate to local businesses, nonprofit arts orgs, and tenants Berkeley Relief Fund
Berkeley List of fundraisers for local workers Berkeleyside
East Bay Grants first to non-profits addressing the economic needs of those hardest hit Covid-19 East Bay Response Fund
East Bay Help feed front-line hospital workers with food from local restaurants. East Bay Feed ER
Bay Area Umbrella of Bay Area response funds, will give your donation to highest-need area Coronavirus Regional Response Fund
USA Donate cash to needy families  GiveDirectly
Global Help governments respond to this crisis quickly WHO COVID-19 Response Fund
Global Help key medical organizations respond Partners in Health; Doctors without Borders (MSF)
Global Help get medical suplies to the countries with the highest need Relief International; Heart to Heart International



Geography Description Resource
East Bay Order takeout to save restaurants (try walking around your neighborhood to find places not on lists) Open East Bay restaurants
Anywhere Buy gift certificates to help cash flow at your favorite local business Check with local bizz for options
Anywhere Online fitness classes, maintaining your membership during closures, etc. Check with your gym for options
Anywhere If you have a spare full unit, you can host a medical worker who needs to stay safely away from family on Airbnb. Donate or charge a fee. Airbnb


Offer Technical Expertise/Equipment

Geography Description Place
UC Berkeley Need specialized equipment to create a new testing facility Innovative Genomics Institute
USA Symptom tracker website (help epidemiologists and policymakers track the virus) covidnearyou
UK Symptom tracker app to map COVID-19 spread, help scientists understand risk and target resources (available in US soon) Mobile App
Anywhere (for Africa) Looking for epi/public health experts to aid African countries University of Oxford google doc 



Description How
Start a neighborhood email list

A neighborhood listserve (e.g. a google group) is a great way to help eachother address needs as they arise. To create one with safe social distance, leave flyers on your neighbors' porches with your email and ask them to share their contact info.

Start a neighborhood pod Flyer and instructions
Make cloth masks for healthcare workers Sounds crazy but it's real. List of hospitals accepting cloth masks and instructions are here.
Make hygeine kits for your local shelter or encampment Check with local shelter, members of encampment for needs
Wellness Checks
Check on older neighbors with a call, text, or talk through the door


Policy Ideas Local policymakers are very busy right now. If you think of a good idea for how to improve local policy, consider discussing it with neighbors and/or a local NGO and circulate a petition. E.g. Walk Bike Berkeley is petitioning to close bike boulevards to traffic. There are other good ideas out there.


Prepare for Illness

Some of us are going to get sick - there's no way around that. Some of us are going to die, too. Planning ahead can really help that process!

Idea Description/Resources
Make an isolation plan Think about who might be able to regularly check in on you or help you if you get sick, and see if they would be able to do so. If you get sick, your whole household will be isolated, so it has to be someone else! Familiarize yourself with local resources for getting social, economic, and medical help. 
Make/update your living will

People are going to get sick, and some of them will not be able to make their own medical decisions. This is a good time to make sure you have a living will (AKA advance directive). This is a legal document that allows those who love you to focus on supporting you, not fighting over impossible decisions on what care you want. It does require some witnesses but now is the time.

Kaiser has a great guide, even if you are not a Kaiser patient.

Make/update your will

Even if you think you don't have assets, you do, and if the worst happens those who survive you will want them to be distributed how you would have liked (and without probate court).

It's easy to make a free will online. If you haven't done so already, think about doing it now. If you're young and your friends don't have one yet either, consider doing it together over Zoom. 

Make a living trust If you own property in CA, make sure you have a way to avoid probate court (a will isn't enough here). Make sure your friends do to. Let's not overwhealm the court system AND the healthcare system at the same time...

Other Ways to Help

  • Fill out your census form online now, and reduce the need for in-person visits.
  • Brainstorm how your workplace can be part of the solution.
  • Are you a manager? Reach out to your people to make sure they are staying safe and keeping others safe.
  • Do you have special access to high need individuals (even healthy but economically disadvantaged)?
  • Do you have particular technological expertise?
  • Can you disseminate knowledge within your network?

Other Places to Check