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How to Volunteer in Iowa Right Now

The health crises of COVID-19 and civil unrest have tested cities across the country. In Eastern Iowa, cities including Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport share these struggles and are grappling with how to serve their most vulnerable populations. Record-high unemployment has left many Iowans without a steady income and reliable housing. If you’re looking for ways to help fellow Iowans, read our guide on how you can show your support. 

How can I volunteer in Iowa?

Donate food or volunteer at local food banks

Food insecurity is on the rise across the country, and vulnerable populations in Iowa are in need of access to healthy, nonperishable food items. Donating money, food, or time through food sorting and distributing are some of the most impactful ways you can support your community right now. Here are a few organizations in Eastern Iowa to consider donating to or volunteering at: 

Food Bank Iowa: Donate food or volunteer to support operations at this local nonprofit based in Des Moines. 

Northeast Iowa Food Bank: Donate, volunteer or fundraise to support this food bank’s network of food pantries across the northeastern region of the state. 

Make and donate masks for local communities

Masks are critical tools in preventing the spread of COVID-19. By wearing them, you reduce the amount of particulates transmitted to people around you — something especially important for people who may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Unfortunately, healthcare facilities, senior living homes, and other potentially vulnerable communities are facing a shortage of masks and protective equipment. If you’re looking for a good way to volunteer in Iowa, making and donating masks is another way to show your support! Making your own masks at home is cheap and simple. And with some cotton fabric and cords for ear loops, it’s easy to sew several masks in just a few hours! 

It can be hard to figure out which facilities need masks the most at any given time. That’s why the team at CommonBond has created our own mask drive to meet the most urgent needs of Eastern Iowa communities. Once you’ve prepared masks to donate, fill out our form and we’ll be in touch to ensure masks get to those who need them most.

Support Iowa nonprofits through donations

Some opportunities for volunteering in Iowa cities are off limits due to the risk of viral exposure. But the option of donating to local nonprofits is still a powerful way to show your support and affect change in your community. 

There are hundreds of nonprofits in Iowa, and choosing the ones you want to support can be a hard decision. It’s important to narrow down a few top picks and make sure your money will make a direct impact. There are a few ways to investigate causes you’d like to support, including ImpactMatters.

At CommonBond, we encourage you to support the organizations you believe deserve your support. If you can, take time to learn about our own mission to provide local communities in Central and Eastern Iowa with affordable housing, and consider lending your support

Donate blood

The need for blood donations hasn’t slowed down, despite the effort local communities are spending to curb COVID-19. In fact, with social distancing precautions and fear of transmission weighing heavily on the public’s mind, blood donations have slowed down, risking the health of patients with cancer, anemia, and other conditions that require blood transfusions. The Red Cross has adapted safety measures so people can safely continue to donate blood and platelets while minimizing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. 

If you’re healthy and able to donate blood, consider scheduling an appointment at your local Red Cross. 

Give support to your vulnerable family or neighbors

One of the ways we can support our community is by simply checking in on our family, friends and neighbors — especially if they’re elderly or immunocompromised. People who are at greater risk may have been living in social isolation for months, so giving them a call every week or so is a great way to boost their spirits to help fight off loneliness. 

Another way to support your neighbors or family is by picking up and delivering their groceries so they don’t have to worry about the risks that come with shopping for essentials. 

Lend a hand to your local essential workers

Essential workers such as hospital and healthcare employees, grocery, and postal delivery workers are living at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19. The stresses that come with this risk can be a lot to contend with for family and friends in these jobs, so showing your support and lending them a hand will go a long way for them and the community at large. Here are a few ways you can demonstrate support and gratitude for essential workers:

  • Offer childcare support
  • Tip delivery drivers generously, if you can
  • Cook and deliver meals to their home
  • Practice social distancing and wear your masks out in public! 

There’s a way for everyone to show their support in Iowa communities!

Whether you’re in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, or Davenport, there are so many ways to support your community. Both the pandemic and community unrest have challenged us while creating opportunities for growth and a chance to build better, more compassionate communities. 

Read our response to the killing of George Floyd

See how we’re supporting our communities during COVID-19. 


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