New Yorkers stepping up to help during COVID-19

New Yorkers pitched in after 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and now they’re stepping up in the fight against COVID-19.

However, Gary Bagley, the Executive Director of New York Cares, says volunteering during a pandemic poses unique challenges.

“One of the heartening things about the pandemic is that in the first four weeks about 13,000 people stepped up and said, ‘I want to help,’” he adds.

New York Cares usually deploys about 50,000 volunteers a year.

At least one-third of those volunteers are senior citizens who are at higher risk of serious illness, themselves.

“We started a phone banking system and this was after discussions with our partners citywide who realized that isolation and mental health were going to be big challenges through the pandemic,” Bagley tells Fox 5.

That’s why New York Cares came up with new volunteer opportunities like virtual yoga, storytime, and citizenship preparation classes, which are all facilitated via zoom.

Volunteers can also make wellness checks on the phone to seniors, veterans, and families who live in transitional housing.

“New Yorkers don’t see boundaries. We see one big city and it’s really important now that we get there however we can, whether that’s physically or whether that’s virtually,” Bagley says.

Volunteers are still needed on the ground, too, especially when it comes to distributing food to hard-hit communities in Central Queens, Eastern Brooklyn, and the South Bronx.

Over the past eight months, New York Cares has delivered more than twenty-two million meals to hungry New Yorkers.

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. Download for FREE!