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Giving Tuesday: Many nonprofits operating to help communities in need during pandemic

HOUSTON – With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what many people do not see is the work still going on to help communities in need.

On Giving Tuesday, a day that is traditionally known to have people out and about volunteering and helping out throughout the community, many are now giving back in a meaningful way while social distancing.

During times of crisis, look for the helpers.

“BEAR (Be A Resource for CPS Kids) has not stopped, although we are practicing social distancing and with limited staff and resources, we have not stopped serving abused and neglected children in the Greater Houston area,” said Merri Hahn, volunteer coordinator at BEAR Community Outreach.

BEAR is a non-profit organization that strives to be a lifeline for children who are abused, taken from their homes and placed in Child Protective Services. Day in and day out, despite the risks, volunteers are at the BEAR Warehouse on TC Jester in northwest Houston, picking up, organizing and handing out supplies to caseworkers for CPS children who are in dire need of basic necessities, such as supplies and high-priced items that they could otherwise not afford.

"Car seats, pack and plays, air mattresses, diapers, formula, clothing and more," Hahn said.

BEAR has changed its operations to also include masks as well as spreading out its supplies to keep conditions safer.

“Caseworkers are on the front lines all day, every day, going into these family’s homes,” Hahn said.

Caseworker, Maya Lournoy, knows just how great the need is.

“With families losing jobs and people not making the same amount of income but still having the same bills, it’s really hard for a lot of people,” Lournoy said.

On Giving Tuesday, BEAR is focusing on their BEAR Back to School program and are asking for donations of supplies or monetary donations to buy what children need, in-person or online.

“This need will grow,” Hahn said.

In fact, online giving for Giving Tuesday seems to be the most popular way to participate. The Houston-based company, CPAP.com, also gave online as well.

“We have been using the internet to provide CPAP equipment and a health service for a long time. So we think (giving online) is a great trend...It’s convenient. It’s fast. It has lower overhead, so it goes right to the people who need it,” Johnny Goodman, CPAP.com CEO, said. “Caring means a lot to us. We’re a healthcare company. We help people breathe.”

CPAP.com is a family-owned and operated business dedicated to providing Sleep Apnea equipment to those who need sleep therapy. Each Tuesday this month, they are donating to nonprofit organizations and charities. And 20% of sales will go to the Houston Food Bank.

"I was really so proud of Houston during Harvey...I think that we're in another fight here, and I think that we're going to win," Goodman said.

Winning is the name of the game for Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman who started a chalk drawing contest as a part of his quest to raise $2 million for the Houston Food Bank. KPRC 2 is also participating in “Alex’s Army” to help raise money.

“We wanted to find a way of getting kids involved in helping kids,” Bregman told KPRC 2.

The winner of the best chalk art with the hashtag “#FEEDHOU” gets four free tickets to an Astros game of their choice -- once fans are allowed to watch the games, of course.

“I think it’ll be fun -- a fun contest, and I’m excited to see the drawings!” Bregman said. “Reagan and I saw some of the sidewalk chalk drawings outside during the social distancing and wanted to have kids get outside and do something creative.”

Bregman said he is thinking of having multiple winners for the contest.

More information on how you can help, click here.