U-M asks for public’s help: Fight COVID-19 by supporting health care workers, researchers & people in need

From protective gear and food, to money and online messages of thanks, there's something everyone can do to help

April 13, 2020
Written By:
Kara Gavin
  • umichnews@umich.edu

Donation Drive. Image credit: Michigan Medicine

ANN ARBOR—Three weeks ago, the University of Michigan put out its first call for community help during the COVID-19 pandemic. The response was nothing short of amazing, with thousands of individuals, families, businesses and organizations stepping forward.

Today, that call goes out again, with more ways community members can help health care teams at Michigan Medicine stay safe and well, help U-M researchers find answers to urgent questions about coronavirus and its effects, and help community organizations serve the most vulnerable.

Some of those ways involve giving money or supplies, for those with the means to do so. Others involve simply giving time or sharing a social media post. But all of them can make a big difference during unprecedented times.

Ways to help:

  • Give money to support Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 response
  • Give protective gear for Michigan Medicine front-line staff and patients
  • Give nonperishable food to Food Gatherers to share with the community
  • Give meals, or money to buy meals, to feed front-line Michigan Medicine staff
  • Give time by running or walking a virtual 5K race to raise money for U-M, or sharing the call for donations
  • Give blood to sustain a steady supply for patients at U-M and beyond. People who have recovered from COVID-19 can give blood plasma for potential use in current COVID-19 patients.
  • Give thanks to health care workers and researchers by posting wishes on social media using #HailtotheFrontLine, or submitting them online
  • Give cheer to home-bound older adults by creating cards or drawings to be delivered by the Meals on Wheels programs led by Michigan Medicine

For links to full lists of accepted items, online financial giving, contact information and more, visit victors.us/covid-19.

“Our incredible supporters have shown their true giving spirit in recent weeks, helping us meet the needs of our care teams, and patients and families across our communities,” said Tony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer of U-M Health System-Michigan Medicine. “We are so grateful for the outpouring of compassion and support which has been so inspiring, but not surprising. Thanks to all who have responded to our call, and those who intend to help us with their volunteer spirit and be part of our team in weeks to come.”

More details about each kind of giving:

Money: The Michigan Medicine COVID-19 Philanthropic Fund will allow U-M to address pressing needs in supporting faculty and staff involved in health care and research. It has already brought in $800,000 from more than 1,100 donors in the first two weeks. Give at victors.us/covid-19.

Protective gear: Disrupted supply chains are still making it hard for Michigan Medicine to buy supplies, even as it works to ensure that health care workers have the PPE, or personal protective equipment, they need to protect themselves and their patients. Members of the community and companies can help by bringing masks, N95 respirators, gloves, face shields, disposable gowns, cleaning supplies and other materials to U-M’s drive-up donation drive, Monday through Saturday, noon-5 p.m., at Dock 90 of 2800 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor, or by arranging other delivery methods by emailing ppe-donations@umich.edu. A full list of most-needed items, and a link to a pattern for 3D-printed face shields that has been approved for use at Michigan Medicine, is available at victors.us/covid-19. More than 300,000 items have been donated since late March.

Food for front-line staff: A new program allows state-licensed restaurants, stores, and food wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers to donate individually wrapped meals and prepackaged food items to feed the thousands of Michigan Medicine staff who continue to provide a wide range of patient care and support services. Meals for a minimum of 50 people are ideal, and should not be family-style. Individuals and families can work with local businesses to support these donations. Contact information is at victors.us/covid-19.

Food for community members in need: In just one week, members of the community drove up to Dock 90 of 2800 Plymouth Road and dropped off nearly 5,000 pounds of nonperishable food and more than 1,300 pounds of diapers and toiletries for the Food Gatherers organization. The donation drive will continue noon-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and will provide food and other necessities to community agencies serving people in need. The jump in unemployment and a new state program that expands home delivery of meals to anyone over 60 during the pandemic are increasing demand, even as usual sources of food donations are disrupted.

Time and energy: A new program called the #HailtotheFrontLine Virtual 5K allows anyone to ask friends and family to support U-M’s COVID-19 response if they run, walk or bike at least five kilometers outdoors or indoors by May 5. Registration begins soon at victors.us/covid-19. In addition to the Virtual 5K, individuals and groups will also be able to use a new U-M tool to make their own #HailtotheFrontLine fundraiser page and drive donations to the COVID-19 Philanthropic Fund.

Blood: Hospitals need a constant supply of blood to serve patients of all kinds, but many Red Cross blood drives have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns. Meanwhile, people who have recovered from COVID-19 are now able to give blood plasma that could be used in studies to see if it can help severely ill COVID-19 patients. People who have recovered from a confirmed case of COVID-19 can learn more about plasma donation at michmed.org/BvjKz. Regular blood donors can find upcoming drives at redcrossblood.org. Special precautions are in place to protect donors from coronavirus. Blood drives held in U-M buildings may require U-M employee or student identification for entry.

Thanks for the front line: A new campaign allows the public to share their thanks and wishes with U-M front-line staff and researchers, for free. Post messages, pictures and short videos on social media using the hashtag #HailtotheFrontLine, with the privacy settings on “public,” and a U-M team will share messages with staff. Or, upload items via the yellow button at www.uofmhealth.org/hail-to-the-front-line, which also displays the most recent messages.

Cheer for homebound older adults: The Meals on Wheels services that feed older adults in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are based out of Michigan Medicine’s Community Health Services division. The program is now collecting cards and drawings to be delivered with meals; they will be held for a time before delivery, in accordance with infection prevention guidance. Send them to Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, 2025 Traverwood Drive, Suite F, Ann Arbor, MI 48105-2228.