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As COVID-19 spreads, the people of Massachusetts are facing a serious emergency. And we’re doing our best to rise to the occasion: we’re staying at home, washing our hands, keeping our distance. But with schools shut down, gatherings and restaurants strictly limited, and supermarkets often low on needed supplies, it can be easy to feel frustrated and helpless. 

Thankfully, nonprofits, school systems, and public agencies are also stepping up. So, if you feel like you need help or want to offer your own help, check out this list of local programs grappling with this pandemic. 

This list will be updated in coming days, so come back for the latest information. 

The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley’s COVID-19 Family Support Fund

The local chapter of the United Way is launching a fund to provide cash assistance to families that are hit with financial hardship because of lost wages during this emergency. Working with business and philanthropic partners, the effort will give households in need a one-time grant of up to $2,000 to help meet basic food, housing, and child care needs. To learn more or donate, visit; to inquire about receiving assistance, call 211 or visit, a state-sponsored service working with United Way to help connect residents to services. 

Our Neighbors’ Table 

Our Neighbors’ Table’s two major programs—no-cost grocery markets and three-course Wednesday dinner—will both continue serving residents of Amesbury, Boxford, Byfield, Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, South Hampton, and West Newbury, though with some modifications. The Amesbury location of the market remains open and will be offering extended hours with curbside pick-up options. Seating will be limited for Wednesday dinner, but the organization is urging people to come get a take-out meal. 

Locals eager to help should consider a monetary donation, which can be made via the website at And check there for daily program updates, as well. 

“We anticipate ramping up programs and putting things out across the region to make it easier for people to stay close to home and access groceries,” says executive director Lyndsey Haight. 

Red Cross of Northeast Massachusetts 

Since the novel coronavirus came to Massachusetts, many blood drive host sites—70 so far—have canceled their planned collections, says Kyle McWilliam-Lopez, executive director of the Red Cross of Northeast Massachusetts. Therefore, he urges residents who want to help out to seek out a blood drive and donate. “We are concerned about maintaining a healthy blood supply and preventing shortages,” he says. 

To find a blood drive, he suggests downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, which will locate collection sites near you and allow you to schedule a donation time. 

Free School Lunches 

School closures mean many children who depend on free or reduced-cost school lunch may be cut off from an important source of nutrition. Many local school systems are addressing this problem by offering free bagged lunch pick-up. Danvers offers the meals to anyone in need, regardless of age. Beverly will be providing both lunch and a breakfast for the next day, and offering pick-up sites in several locations. Other towns and cities including Essex, Gloucester, Lynn, Manchester, North Andover, and Salem are also participating in similar programs. This list is not exhaustive, so check municipal websites and social media for details in your town.