How donating your $1,200 stimulus check would advance local nonprofits’ missions

The Aliveness Project. Submitted photo

Payments from the coronavirus stimulus package are expected to start showing up in Southwest residents’ bank accounts in mid-April, with people making under $75,000 per year due to receive a one-time sum of $1,200. This money will serve as a lifeline for the many who have lost work or are otherwise challenged by this moment’s severe economic uncertainty.

But if you are privileged to be in a place of relative economic stability right now, you may be thinking of ways you can help others who are struggling. One way to help is by donating to a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving some of those hardest hit by the economic impact of COVID-19.

We checked in with a few organizations doing crucial work and asked them how a $1,200 donation would be used to advance their mission.

The Aliveness Project

3808 Nicollet Ave

Before there was COVID-19, America faced another pandemic, HIV. In the wake of that crisis, the Aliveness Project was born, building community for those who had tested positive, delivering meals and providing health services. The Aliveness Project continues this work, which is all the more essential now, as many of those living with HIV are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

The Aliveness Project has had to postpone its annual fundraiser, Dining Out for Life, where restaurants around the Twin Cities donate a portion of their earnings to the nonprofit, and shut down its charitable gaming operation in partnership with bars and restaurants.

Even as its income has dropped, it has significantly expanded its food shelf program, which currently serves 60 pounds of groceries to 30 people per day.

What $1,200 buys: It could support food and groceries for low-income and homeless people living with HIV and home delivery of food and groceries. It would also go toward cleaning supplies, masks and other protective equipment, and toward technology for telehealth and remote case management for people living with HIV.

Joyce Uptown Foodshelf

3041 Fremont Ave. S.

“One of the silver linings of all of this is seeing the creative ways that people come together during this time to support the community,” said Lorrie Sandelin, Joyce Uptown Foodshelf’s director.

Sandelin is one of two part-time staff members at the volunteer-driven nonprofit that provides groceries for low-income individuals and families.

In 2019, Joyce saw an 11% increase in visits to the food shelf, and Sandelin expects the impact of COVID will mean that number will rise even more.

“Right now, we are responding to an immediate need; however, this is a marathon,” she said. “The need will continue to rise with our current economic situation.”

Joyce is typically open five afternoons and one night a week. People are free to come once or twice a month to pick up food. No one who comes to the food shelf is generally turned away.

What $1,200 buys: It costs just $3.39 to provide food to one person for one month (about 18 pounds in all). A $1,200 donation would feed 353 individuals, or about 128 households.

Northpoint Health & Wellness Center

1313 Penn Ave. N.

In North Minneapolis, Northpoint Health & Wellness Center helps its community in a variety of ways — through its food shelf, mobile food delivery, housing and homeless prevention programs and through culturally responsive, trauma-informed services for youth, adults and seniors. A donation to Northpoint would address folks who urgently need access to food and stable housing in particular.

What $1,200 buys: It could pay rent and utilities for one month for a family of four earning 40% of the area median income. It could also pay for four days’ worth of food for 60 families of four at Northpoint’s community food shelf, which is currently providing emergency food to about 100 households a day.

St. Stephen’s Human Services

309 Nicollet Ave.

St. Stephen’s Human Services, a Whittier-based homeless shelter, has ramped up its services to ensure safe and stable housing and shelter during the COVID-19 crisis, including expanding its operating hours to 24/7 at both of its shelters during the stay-at-home order since many day facilities and public buildings have closed.

The organization also instituted hazard pay for its shelter staff and street outreach team and added lunch services and more substantial breakfast offerings.

What $1,200 buys: If you were to donate your whole $1,200 stimulus check, that would be enough to fund St. Stephen’s for one full day, paying for both shelter and meals.


3111 1st Ave. S.

At the end of March, Gov. Tim Walz said at a press briefing that the state’s stay-at-home order didn’t mean people needed to stay in a dangerous situation. “There are places of sanctuary for you to get out of that,” he said.

One of those places is Tubman, an organization that helps people who have experienced violence, elder abuse, addiction, sexual exploitation or other forms of trauma. As shown by an increase in domestic violence 911 calls, it’s more important than ever to have safe places for people to go who are in unsafe situations.

What $1,200 buys: Tubman’s Freedom Fund covers things like changing the locks of an apartment or covering storage fees so a person’s belongings can be in a safe place while they seek shelter. It can also pay for a few groceries or to get new copies of official documents.

Two hours of an interpreter’s time cost $100, taking a GED test is $90, a housing application for a new apartment could cost $45 and uniforms for work or school are about $30.

The costs covered by the Freedom Fund may seem small, but to someone in fear, pain and trauma, they can feel like enormous barriers to an unknown future different from what they’ve known in the past,” Tubman’s Alison Hobson said.