CoMoHelps.org, which launched Friday, is a platform where community members can contribute monetarily with donations or physically as volunteers to assist nonprofits that are part of the local response to COVID-19.
“It’s a central location for people to go who want to give help or to get help, so it’s a pretty clear and straightforward website,” said John Baker, executive director of the Community Foundation of Central Missouri.
The CoMoHelps.org website is a joint effort by the Heart of Missouri United Way, Community Foundation of Central Missouri, the city of Columbia and Boone County.
According to Baker, the Community Foundation and United Way have signed on to be co-donation managers because the city and county needed donation actors as part of their declaration of emergency.
“The collaboration began, I think, out of goodwill and good minds and hearts,” Baker said in a phone interview. “We, all of us, have some significant skills which we can bring to this time of crisis.”
Baker said that everything the organizations are doing is in conjunction with the priorities and objectives the Office of Emergency Preparedness are putting out.
“The Community Foundation, through the COVID-19 Regional Relief Fund, will be the first stop for the emergency operations plan leaders to go to request finances for things which they identify as top priority,” Baker said.
Those wanting to donate money can visit CoMoHelps.org, which will then direct them to the Heart of Missouri United Way and the Community Foundation of Central Missouri websites.
For those who want to offer their time, there is a link to a City of Columbia Volunteer Program page where volunteer opportunities from local nonprofits are listed.
“This is kind of an interesting situation due to the emergency; we want to limit people’s exposures to one another,” said Leigh Kottwitz, City of Columbia’s Neighborhood Services Manager. “So, we’re trying to keep all of this work done under the leadership of our emergency operations being led by our local government.”
According to Kottwitz, there have been these types of volunteer opportunities in the past, and she said something she learned from that was “people want to help in a time of crisis.”
“We know there are people who want to do something to help,” Kottwitz said in a phone interview. “We just want to be able to manage that interest and be able to provide those needs that are in our community and also to provide guidance on how to do that wisely because we don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way.”
According to the news release, the Boone County Emergency Operations Center is also coordinating donations and volunteer opportunities in order to support the local COVID-19 response.
Other than being a site where people can give help, it also will be a place where people can receive help.
CoMoHelps.org provides information about the United Way 211 Center, a free and confidential resource that connects residents to agencies providing basic needs such as food, child care, utility assistance and mental health services.
The center can be reached by dialing 211 or through the center’s website, 211helps.org.