• April 8, 2020

TEXAS VIEW: Giving big is crucial to curb COVID-19 pandemic - Odessa American: Texas Opinion

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TEXAS VIEW: Giving big is crucial to curb COVID-19 pandemic

THE POINT: Most of us are not in the position to give large amounts, but we can do our part to help.

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Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 2:30 am

As we establish a temporary new normal in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic and carry on even as a public health crisis morphs into an economic crisis, one source of uplift is seeing San Antonio businesses working to help the most vulnerable in our community.

Earlier this week, USAA donated $1 million to Bexar County agencies that provide a safety net for many families who face food insecurity even during the best of times. The funds are earmarked for organizations such as the United Way of San Antonio, South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, Meals on Wheels and Haven for Hope.

San Antonio-based H-E-B is giving $3 million to assist food banks across the state and help provide food to senior citizens and low-income families.

Spurs Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the San Antonio Spurs, has established a fund to ensure the organization’s part-time employees, whose employment was disrupted by the suspension of the NBA and American Hockey League seasons, will be paid through what would have been the end of the teams’ regular seasons.

Many other national sports organizations and athletes across the country have established similar funds to provide financial assistance to their out-of-work arena employees.

Nationwide, the philanthropic pledges and donations in response to the coronavirus have topped $1 billion, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported earlier this month, quoting figures supplied by Candid, a foundation research group.

About $182 million was pledged by U.S. donors, including $100 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to “strengthen detecting, isolation and treatment efforts; protect at-risk populations; and develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.”

Some of the other large donations from corporate America reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy include $50 million from JPMorgan Chase, $40 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies, $25 million from Truist Bank and $20 million from Facebook.

Much of that money is for health care, food and humanitarian relief. Some of it is for small businesses facing an economic crisis. Amazon, for example, earlier this year announced $5 million in cash grants to businesses near its offices in Seattle and Bellevue, Wash., to compensate small businesses for lost foot traffic after many Amazon employees began telecommuting.

Most of us are not in the financial position to give such large amounts, but we can do our part to help. With the coronavirus pandemic potentially lasting months, undercutting tourism, restaurants, service workers and many other industries, we are just at the beginning of what will need to be a sustained national and local philanthropic push. Something that goes above and beyond the direct checks to taxpayers being discussed at the federal level.

That’s why in a future editorial we will call on city and community leaders to designate a philanthropy czar to formally streamline and organize giving in San Antonio. Someone who can provide avenues for the public to give, and distribute funds and support to households in certain sectors.

Crises impact us all, but they especially hit those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder the hardest. Remain mindful of those around us who rely on hourly and part-time employment. Many of them have no savings and live paycheck to paycheck — and one missed paycheck can have dire consequences.

It’s abundantly clear that working together is the only way we can make a difference.

Odessa, TX

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