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How to Volunteer in Milwaukee Right Now

Like many cities across the U.S., Milwaukee, Wisconsin is contending with the health crisis of COVID-19 and unrest in response to longtime struggles with racism. Milwaukee is consistently listed as one of the most segregated cities in the country, and the income gap between its Black and white populations are stark. This ugly truth has been known for years, but the civil unrest sparked by the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha at the hands of the police have brought this conversation back into the light. 

Milwaukee’s already vulnerable populations are now facing the struggles that the COVID-19 pandemic has created: food insecurity, unstable housing, and unemployment in particular. 

These are daunting problems, but the people of Milwaukee have stepped up to meet these challenges head on. If you’re intimidated by the enormity of these problems — you’re not alone! But by selecting a cause or organization you feel passionate about supporting, you can create positive change. To help, we’ve put together a guide on how you can make a difference in the Milwaukee community. 

How can I volunteer in Milwaukee?

Make and donate masks

We know that wearing masks in public spaces is proven to lower the risk of transmitting COVID-19. By wearing masks, potential asymptomatic carriers can prevent the inadvertent spreading of the virus —  it’s a critical way to protect your community at large. A problem from the beginning of the pandemic has been the lack of access to masks. Healthcare facilities, senior living centers, and affordable housing communities have all struggled to adequately protect their staff and residents with face coverings. 

One way to meet this need is by sewing masks in bulk right at home. Making your own masks is easy, and you can use material found at local craft stores or even cut material from clothes you’re no longer wearing. With your material on hand and some elastic bands for ear loops, it’ll be easy to make several masks in just a few hours. 

Once you’ve made your masks, you’ll need to determine where to donate. CommonBond Communities’ mask drive is a great option to consider! Simply fill out the form and we’ll contact you with details about your community’s needs. 

Support your local food banks with donations or labor

If you’re wondering how to volunteer in Milwaukee, food banks are one of the most important ways to show your support right now. By either donating or supporting kitchens with volunteer hours, you can help people facing the crisis of food insecurity that’s been worsened by the record levels of unemployment. Here are a few places in Milwaukee you can support:

Donate to a favorite nonprofit organization

Of course, one of the best ways to support the Milwaukee community is by donating to the organizations that are working every day to affect change. This is an especially important option for people who can’t directly volunteer at places like food banks because of the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Fortunately, Milwaukee is home to hundreds of amazing nonprofit organizations you can research and choose to support. If you’re having trouble deciding where to start, Charity Navigator helps you make informed decisions on where to donate. 

We know choosing organizations is an important process, and we encourage people to select the nonprofits they believe will truly create change. If you are interested in funding affordable housing efforts, take time to learn about CommonBond’s mission of providing local communities with stable and safe housing with onsite support services. 

Donate blood

The need for blood hasn’t slowed down, despite the worldwide effort to curb COVID-19. Blood and platelet donations are still needed for patients with cancer or anemia. Donations slowed down when stay-at-home orders were first introduced, leaving the American Red Cross with shortages. Rest assured that blood donation centers are taking every precaution to ensure donors and volunteers are safe throughout the entire process. Learn more about the Milwaukee-area chapter and set up an appointment. 

Right now, there is also an enormous need for donations from patients who have fully recovered from COVID-19. Donating blood with antibodies will help current COVID-19 patients fight off the virus. 

Deliver groceries for elderly neighbors and check in on vulnerable family or neighbors

Simply checking in on elderly neighbors, family members and friends is one powerful way to connect and foster positivity. People in more vulnerable populations have been living in greater levels of isolation since March, leaving them at risk of loneliness and depression. Be sure to call or video chat your vulnerable family or friends, as they’re surely feeling overwhelmed by the stresses that have come with living during the pandemic. This simple gesture can go a long way in helping others feel cared for and encouraged.

Another way to help your loved ones is by running errands for them that they may not feel comfortable performing themselves. Picking up groceries or prescriptions saves them from potentially risky trips to the store.

Reach out to & support the essential workers in your life

While many people are working at home, others need to report to essential places of business every day, leaving them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Worrying about their physical well-being can in turn seriously harm their mental health, so if you know an essential worker such as a medical facility staff member, grocery store worker, or someone else who interacts with people every day, chances are they’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Here are ways you can lend a helping hand:

  • Tip your delivery drivers generously if possible
  • Offer to help out with childcare support 
  • Cook and deliver meals to their homes
  • Always wear your mask and practice social distancing! 

There’s a way to volunteer for everyone who cares about Milwaukee

Regardless of your schedule or budget, there are always ways to help the Milwaukee community. Always remember that even the most simple of kind gestures can go a long way in helping spread positivity and growth. There’s plenty to accomplish in Milwaukee right now, so what matters is that you’re showing up and learning how to best support your city. 

Read our response to the killing of George Floyd

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


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