Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / School bus driver Melisa Giles makes a delivery to Chris Dee and his children Patty and Malachi. Dade County Schools are delivering meals to students by bus at least twice a week while kids are out of town.

Suddenly found yourself with extra time on your hands? Want to find a way to do something productive whether you're stuck at home with family or worrying about how the coronavirus pandemic will affect your community?

Dozens of Chattanooga area nonprofits, organizations, groups and ordinary citizens are already rising to the occasion and launching ways to help those affected by COVID-19, whether they've lost their jobs, fall into an at-risk population or find themselves caring for sick loved ones.

The Times Free Press has compiled this list of ways to help out. Scroll through and hopefully you'll find an opportunity to give back.

Also, if you know of an opportunity not listed here, please email We will continue updating this list as more opportunities arise.



— Donate supplies to the homeless

City of Chattanooga's Homeless Services Division is asking for donations of hand sanitizer, soap, gloves and personal hygiene products. Donations can be dropped off at 1714 Duncan Ave. between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.


 — Help deliver meals to hungry students

Hamilton County Schools Continued Support - Bus Food Delivery: Hamilton County Schools are looking for volunteers to help deliver meals to students on Monday, Wednesday and Friday as well as preparing/organizing food on Thursdays and Fridays. For more information, visit:


— Donate disinfecting wipes to health care workers

Walker County, Georgia is seeking donations of disinfecting wipes for local health care workers. Wipes can be dropped off in the front of the Walker County Civic Center, located at 10052 Highway 27 in Rock Spring, Georgia.

The Hamilton County Health Department is also asking medical, dental or other health offices to donate much-need supplies such as N95 respirators, gowns, gloves and more. Contact Health Department Emergency Management Planner April Priest at 423-315-3994 or email for more information.


— Donate blood

The cancellation of blood drives is leading to a severe shortage of blood. To help maintain the local supply, healthy people can contact Blood Assurance and make an appointment here to donate or call 1-800-962-0628


— Foster a dog or cat (or a bunny) 

Local animal shelters are expecting a huge influx of homeless pets from this pandemic, contact McKamey Animal Center, the Humane Educational Society, or other local rescues about fostering or volunteering opportunities. Many are also in need of donations of pet food and pet supplies.


— Deliver groceries, supplies to senior citizens

Deliver meals, food boxes or household supplies to homebound or at-risk older adults or make phone calls to check-in on them. The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disabilities is looking for healthy volunteers. To sign up, visit:


— Buy a gift card from a local business

As non-essential businesses are temporarily closed, locally-owned small businesses are expected to suffer. Buy a gift card for future use, shop online at local businesses or order take-out from local restaurants (or bars and breweries!



— Send artwork to patients at Siskin Hospital

Chattanooga's Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation is asking the community to create "Get Well" artwork for patients who have limited visitors due to current restrictions. Children can sign the artwork with their first name and ages and send it to Siskin Hospital at One Siskin Plaza, Chattanooga, TN 37403. It can also be emailed to


— Call a senior through a virtual phone bank

The city of Chattanooga launched a virtual phone bank for people to begin checking in on elderly residents. Volunteers help provide vital information about COVID-19 to elderly residents and those who might be self-isolating at home. For more information or to apply, visit:


— Keep tipping local service workers

Every time you have a drink at home, consider tipping a local service worker. Many have found themselves without jobs as bars, restaurants and other non-essential businesses have been ordered to close. For more information, visit:


— Write to a pen pal

Brookdale Senior Living in Hixson residents are looking for pen pals. Currently, the assisted living facility is not allowing any visitors. For more information, visit or call 423-877-8771


Contact Meghan Mangrum at or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.