COVID-19: How to help


 
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Amberley Collaborative is collecting local volunteer and service opportunities, including opportunities to care for neighbors without person-to-person contact.

We have suggestions in these categories:

Immediate help for people in emotional distress
Training to be a Crisis Text Line counselor
Food security
Donating blood and other needed products
Calling and checking on neighbors
Making deliveries
Making masks for health care workers

We invite you you to send us additional volunteer opportunities, using the form at the bottom of this page.

Immediate help for people in emotional distress

Keep these phone numbers on hand to share with neighbors and loved ones in distress:

As always, call 911 for a life-threatening crisis.

Texas Health and Human Services is offering a COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line, available 24/7: 833-986-1919. Mental health professionals help callers deal with anxiety, depression, stress, grief, and worry.

Locally in Waco and McLennan County, MHMR’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT) provides community-based crisis assessment and response. The team meets people where they are: at home, on the street, in the hospital, or in a shelter. Call 866-752-3451.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support for people in distress by phone and by chat, in English and in Spanish, as well as multiple options for people who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing. Here are the numbers, English: 800-273-8255; Spanish: 888-628-9454; Deaf and hard-of-hearing—TTY and chat: 800-799-4889, video relay service or voice/caption phone: 800-273-8255. Like the phone lines, chat is available 24/7. Because of the high demand, it may be necessary to wait for a counselor. The wait is worth it.

The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters: 800-985-5990. Services are available in English and Spanish.

The Crisis Text Line offers free, confidential support to people in crisis via text. Text Home to 741741.

Finally, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) offers a list of Warmlines that offer free confidential support in noncrisis situations. The Warmlines are listed by state, but many accept out-of-state calls. Some of them ask callers to leave a message and receive a call back.

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Training to be a Crisis Text Line counselor

Night owls are especially needed for the Crisis Text Line, but if you’re not a night owl, you can volunteer as well. Text Line volunteers must complete a 30-hour online training and commit to serving 4 hours a week for at least 200 hours total.

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Food security

School closures can result in food insecurity for the hundreds of Waco-area schoolchildren who rely on meals served at school. The school districts have established multiple sites where families can pick up meals for their children, and Craig Nash of the Texas Hunger Initiative is recruiting volunteers to help distribute meals. The sites are managed by school district staff, and the process is organized to minimize person-to-person contact. At the time of this writing, Waco ISD and Connally ISD sites are distributing meals from 11:00 to 12:30 Monday through Friday, and Connally ISD is also distributing breakfast from 8:00 to 9:30 Monday through Friday mornings. Midway ISD distribution days and times vary, and La Vega ISD is distributing breakfast from 7:00 to 9:00 and lunch from 11:00 to 1:00 each weekday. On Fridays families receive extra food for the weekend. To volunteer at a food distribution site, contact Craig Nash at craig_nash@baylor.edu.

Infant formula has been scarce. Lactating mothers can donate their milk to the Mothers Milk Bank, which has a drop-off location at Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Hospital in Waco. There is a process to get started as a donor, which includes a phone screening and blood work. The donated milk first goes to medically frail infants. Increasing the quantity of milk in the milk bank is one of the best ways to increase food security for our youngest neighbors. Call 877-813-6455 to begin your 10-minute phone screening.


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Donating blood and other needed products

Carter BloodCare has experienced a reduction in donations during the COVID-19 crisis. You can help by donating blood and by organizing a blood drive. Donating to a blood bank is always safe, and Carter BloodCare has implemented additional safety protocols during the pandemic. To donate blood you can visit Carter BloodCare’s donor center at 206 Archway Drive in Woodway, or search for a mobile blood drive by zip code. To organize a blood drive, call 817-412-5384 or email bookablooddrive@carterbloodcare.org.

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Calling and checking on neighbors

One thing nearly all of us can do is to check on our neighbors. If everyone checks on the folks who live next door and across the street, we will all have someone looking out for us.

Friends for Life, which helps elderly and disabled people live independently in the community, has over 350 clients who need regular check-ins by phone to see whether they have any urgent needs. This is a way you can help while staying home yourself. To volunteer, go to the Friends for Life volunteer sign-up page, click “Apply Now,” and take it from there. Volunteers need to submit to a background check before they begin serving. Questions? Contact area coordinator April Love at April@friendsforlife.org.

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Making deliveries

Friends for Life, which helps elderly and disabled people live independently in the community, is setting up a system to deliver food and other necessities to their clients. To volunteer, go to the Friends for Life volunteer sign-up page, click “Apply Now,” and take it from there. Volunteers need to submit to a background check before they begin serving. Questions? Contact area coordinator April Love at April@friendsforlife.org.

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Making masks for health care workers

The Family Health Center of Waco is facing a severe shortage of face masks. They issued an urgent request for people to make and donate masks:

URGENT: If you can sew, FHC needs your help! Our CEO, Dr. Jackson Griggs, is here with a special COVID-19 request.

Like many other healthcare organizations in the world right now, FHC is hoping members of our community can help sew medical masks for patients who arrive at our clinics with Coronavirus symptoms. This increases safety for other patients and FHC staff, but our medical mask supplies are running low and new masks are on back-order. Here’s a video with instructions for sewing masks: https://youtu.be/TL9D6ZFtZHM

Please send masks to:
Attn. Glenna Walker
1600 Providence Dr.
Waco, Texas 76707

Thank you, McLennan County community, for rallying together to take care of one another. Please share this video and stay safe!


Help us identify service opportunities during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please be sure to include contact information so we can learn more about the opportunity and, if you have them, details on how to sign up.