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How to treat yourself and support local nonprofits with your stimulus money

If you have any dollars to spare from that stimulus check, here are some ideas for how to spend it, and help people around Oregon at the same time.
Credit: Alexander Mills

PORTLAND, Oregon —

So you received your stimulus check. Now what do you do with that extra money?

First of all, let me start off by saying this:

It’s OK if you just spend this money on yourself and the people around you.

I know you have bills to pay, might be surviving off of unemployment money right now (or waiting on the money to arrive…), and maybe even have new medical bills to pay.

We can each only do what we can afford. So this is not me guilting you into spending the money you need right now more than ever.

But if you want to take a few of your new stimulus dollars and help people, nonprofits and businesses around Portland, that’s great too.

So here are some ideas of how you can spend your stimulus money to help the community, by donating it, or treating yourself to something nice.

Donate - give to local nonprofits

To support immigrant workers who don't get a stimulus check

Unfortunately, there are groups of workers in Oregon who will not be receiving anything from the Federal Stimulus Package, including immigrant workers. So the Oregon Worker Relief Fund is working to get dollars to them. You can set up a one-time or monthly donation here

The Rosewood Initiative has launched the Guerreras Latinas COVID-19 Relief Fund, to support women and their families who cannot receive government assistance right now. You can donate here.

To help Asian-American businesses and workers

Asian-American businesses have taken an extra hard hit during this pandemic. The Jade District COVID Relief Fund was originally set up to raise money for community members and families in the Jade District (in Southeast Portland) who have been affected by the impacts of COVID-19. But after receiving over $40,000 in donations, the fund is expanding to support impacted workers in Washington County as well. You can donate here.

To provide health care to Portland's African-American community

The North by Northeast Community Health Center supports Portland's most vulnerable populations, providing health care for low-income adults in a neighborhood clinic. The health center is working to keep its services available and safe during the pandemic. You can donate here.

To feed people in need in the community

The Oregon Food Bank has launched a campaign called #EmergeStronger, which aims to raise $1 million to ensure that local food pantries survive the pandemic. NIKE, Inc. President and CEO John Donahoe and his wife, Eileen Donahoe, already pledged $1 million, so you can go match their donation with as many of your own dollars as you can afford here.

To feed local foster families

Every Child Oregon is always working hard to help the most vulnerable children and youth in our state. And right now, foster homes are especially important, as they provide love and care for kids in crisis. You can donate money to the organization, or you can put together a flash box to send to a local foster family, filled with necessities and fun items to entertain them at home.

To help survivors of domestic violence

There has been a very unfortunate spike in domestic violence during the stay at home orders, and the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Beaverton is working hard to provide individual and group counseling services via phone and video chat during the pandemic. You can donate money to support survivors here.

To support the homeless population

People in Portland experiencing homelessness are even more vulnerable during this pandemic, and Portland Street Medicine is ramping up its outreach to provide health care to those on the streets. The nonprofit has set a goal of raising over $86,000 for its emergency response plan, so you can help work towards that goal here.

p:ear is another organization helping provide necessities to people experiencing homelessness, but this nonprofit focuses on supporting homeless youth. Right now, p:ear is providing "out the door" sack lunches, essential resources, and services Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its NW 6th St. location. You can donate money here, or go in-person to drop off masks, baked goods, and other needed items for youth (see a list of what p:ear is looking for here).

To help women and gender-non conforming people

The coronavirus pandemic has led to closures of many in-person services. Rose Haven has had to alter its service model to be able to continue offering necessary services to women, children, and gender-diverse people right now. The nonprofit is still open for food, water, hygiene products, and more. You donate money here, or buy an item off Rose Haven's Amazon wish list here.

To help low-income students keep up with their school work

Even though schools are closed during the pandemic, students still have to keep up with classes from home. For low-income students, that becomes difficult when they don't have access to the necessary technology. Free Geek is raising money to provide students and displaced workers in Oregon with the digital access they need to continue doing their work and staying safe. You can donate here, and see where your money will go (for $150, you can provide a refurbished laptop to a person displaced by the coronavirus).

Treat yourself - spend your money on something good for you and the community

Get your groceries from a local restaurant

The restaurant industry alone has had to make a lot of adjustments in an attempt to stay afloat. Many Portland restaurants are now trying something brand new: grocery service. That means you can support local restaurants while still getting the items you need for your fridge and pantry (and maybe an extra family meal, so you can take a night off from cooking). We made a list of the Portland restaurants now selling groceries (including toilet paper, in many cases!) here.

Buy a gift card to spend later

So you can't go out to eat or grab coffee from your favorite spot right now. But eventually, when the stay at home orders end, you'll be back spending your money at the same local places. So you can help these businesses out in the meantime and purchase a gift card or pay in advance for a future service. PDX SOS has compiled the options here.

Buy a new book to read in quarantine

By now, you've probably watched way too many movies and web series than you'd like to admit since the stay home orders began. So why not make the switch to reading a book?

You may not be able to go to Powell's Books in person right now, the famous bookstore was actually able to hire over 100 employees back in March, to help fulfill the many online orders from customers stuck at home. So you can join them and go place an online order something for yourself to read.

Caffeinate with local coffee

You might not have to leave the house to go to work these days, but you probably need caffeine just as much as ever. Luckily, even though many Portland cafes are currently closed, you can still get coffee from your local spots. Here are a few local coffee shops now offering delivery, including one that is donating coffee to first responders at the same time.

Do some DIY

You know you've been in the mood for some crafting, so why not support a local business and get some DIY-inspiration at the same time? DIY BAR normally hosts in-person group events, but now the company is selling kits online so you can keep the crafting alive at home. You can do some macrame, DIY some coasters, or make a wooden six pack carrier, for when those outdoor adventures can happen again. Shop for projects here.

Get some new toys for the kiddos

Over a month in quarantine probably means your kids are sick of every toy in the house. Finnegan's Toys & Gifts is still taking orders over the phone during the pandemic, so you can get a new puzzle, games, or LEGO set safely.

Send a plant to a friend or loved one (or just to yourself)

The Plant Doctors are two local ladies who love plants, and want to bring more plants to the people of Portland. Normally, they do this in-person, but right now they'll do a contact-free delivery of a four-inch potted plant to the person you love. Order a new plant friend here.

Do your nails for a good cause

Claws Out is a Portland-based nail polish company, that's all about activism. A portion of the proceeds from each polish goes to different nonprofit supporting women's rights. The women-owned company is offering 40% off right now, so you can give yourself an at-home manicure here, even if no one in the outside world will see your nails for a while.

Restock your liquor cabinet

Stock up for future gin and tonics for your next at-home happy hour with Aviation Gin. The Portland-based distillery is donating 30% from each online order (through May 1) to the United States Bartenders Guild, to help bartenders who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Aviation kicked off the good will by donating $15,000 to the guild, so order your gin here.

Buy art and support Meals on Wheels

Mike Bennett is a Portland-based artist who creates big wood cutouts of cartoons and other characters. He’s been hiding his art around town for over a year, so you may already own a piece of his work. But if you don’t already, here’s your chance. Bennett is selling one of his first cutouts he ever created: the Handsome Squidward character from the Spongebob Squarepants TV show. All of the proceeds are going straight to Meals on Wheels America, “to help out folks in need of food in these weird times,” said Bennett in his Instagram post about the sale. The cutout is on sale on eBay, and bids are currently up to $8,100. The sale ends on Thursday, April 23.

Shipping and handling Item location: Portland, Oregon, United States Shipping to: Will arrange for local pickup only (no shipping).

Cassidy Quinn is the host of Tonight With Cassidy on KGW. But right now, like many of you, she is working from home, trying to focus on the happier things going on in the world. Tonight With Cassidy is currently on hiatus, but you can watch previous segments from the show here, and follow Cassidy on Twitter @CassidyQuinn. 

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