Local companies announce charitable efforts amid pandemic

Updated at 12:55 p.m. on Thursday, March 19.

PROVIDENCE – Tufts Health Plan Foundation is making $1 million available to community and nonprofit organizations working to support older people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in four New England states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the foundation announced Thursday.

Of that amount, $50,000 will be earmarked for the Rhode Island COVID-19 Response Fund established earlier in the week by United Way of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Foundation. Tufts Health Plan Foundation said this contribution is the first of “more to come” devoted to this response fund.

The foundation said individuals ages 60 and older have been “disproportionately impacted” by the coronavirus, and it is “especially important” to make sure resources are available to supports and services.

Rhode Island Foundation CEO and President Neil D. Steinberg said in a statement that now is the time to “coordinate resources and response” with this pandemic.

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“We are experiencing an unpredictable, rapidly changing public health emergency – one that is having immediate impact on the community we care so deeply about, and that will likely have lasting, consequential effects,” Steinberg said. “It is humbling to see the community come together to support our most vulnerable.”

Tufts Health Plan CEO and President Thomas Croswell said in a statement he hopes the funding will provide local organizations “flexibility in their operations to respond to pressing and emerging needs in the communities they support.”

Also Thursday, the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation announced it will activate $1.25 million in emergency funding to support health and hunger-relief organizations that are on the frontlines of the virus response.

The foundation said it decided to open “flexible funding” to respond to needs knowing that hospitals are preparing for “unprecedented numbers” and food banks and pantries are experiencing “disruptions to their supply chains.”

Donations to the foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund can be made through its website, and nonprofits can apply for grant online as well.

On Wednesday, Bradford Soap Works Inc. and the Teamsters union said they will deliver 5,000 to Family Service of Rhode Island for the organization’s Be Safe Kits initiative. The kits will be delivered to needy families Family Service supports.

The Be Safe Kits initiative is also accepting monetary donations by either texting BE SAFE to 44321 or visiting the organization’s website.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

This story has been updated to include the announcements from the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation as well as Bradford Soap Works Inc. and the Teamsters.

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