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News >  Spokane

Shawn Vestal: Want to help, but don’t know where? United Way website tells you where the need is

UPDATED: Fri., March 20, 2020

Medical personnel wearing protective equipment screen people referred by doctors for COVID-19 testing, Friday, at a drive-thru testing station set up in the parking lot at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Medical personnel wearing protective equipment screen people referred by doctors for COVID-19 testing, Friday, at a drive-thru testing station set up in the parking lot at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

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Your time. Your effort. Your money.

Your blood.

If you’ve got it to give, someone could use it now. The United Way can help you figure out where it’s needed with a website that is connecting organizations that need help with people who want to help – a clearinghouse for coronavirus volunteerism. The web site, which is a part of the organization’s Volunteer Spokane project, is coordinating what’s needed at more than 50 local organizations and giving people a quick way to offer their services.

“Each day this changes,” said Tim Henkel, president and CEO of the Spokane County United Way. “We’re trying to use the platform as a point for individuals to find out what’s going on and see where the need is.”

In particular, the project aims to coordinate the larger-scale, collective actions that will be needed to meet this challenge. A lot of Spokane people are doing kind things for friends and neighbors, and that’s good. But meeting the needs of the community’s most vulnerable people – whether it’s keeping people fed or making sure our supply of blood is robust – will require collective, organized actions, Henkel said.

On Friday, the United Way website listed a dozen organizations seeking volunteers or resources. The food bank needs help boxing and sorting. A recovery center for the homeless needs a durable new carpet that can be cleaned. The Salvation Army needs cleaning supplies. And, yes, the blood supply is low.

On and on it goes. Henkel said United Way has contacted almost 50 community agencies to provide assistance with volunteer and supply needs and that efforts to list those on the web site will continue.

The United Way coronavirus clearinghouse is part of its Volunteer Spokane project, an online resource matching up the needs and resources for 300 organizations. That page, which former Mayor David Condon has called Spokane’s “ for volunteers,” has been used in routine times by some 8,000 individuals looking to help, Henkel said.

Here are some of the organizations which need help.

  • The Spokane Regional Health District needs volunteers, age 59 and younger, to work at the drive-through testing system. Volunteers will be provided with masks, and will practice social-distancing. If you visit the United Way’s coronavirus page at, you can select a time for help.
  • Second Harvest Food Bank is reorganizing its volunteer programs starting Monday to cancel reserved times for volunteers and operate shorter first-come, first-served volunteer sessions to repack food. The idea is to reduce the number of volunteers at each shift and spread out projects. Please visit the United Way site for the link to register; they won’t be able to take unregistered drop-in volunteers.
  • Hospice of Spokane needs hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Donations can be dropped at the organization’s main office, 121 S. Arthur St.
  • Homeless families served by Family Promise need groceries and other supplies. The United Way site has a grocery list. Please deliver items at either Family Promise shelter, 904 E. Hartson Ave. or 2002 E. Mission Ave. between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • The Martin Luther King Jr. Food Bank needs volunteers age 18 and over, able to lift 50 pounds, to help with shopping, stocking and delivering food.

These are just a few examples. If you’re looking to help, please visit the United Way web page and see what you can offer. The need is great, and it won’t go away any time soon. The United Way web site will be an invaluable resource for pointing people to where their help is needed.

Social media in the age of social distancing

Several people have formed Facebook groups to alert friends to need in the community.

Reach Out Spokane offers information about the coronavirus and gives people a forum to seek and offer help. You can visit the page:

Another Facebook group, Spokane Area Coronavirus Aid, is similarly spreading the word about the virus and where there is need in the community. It’s at

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