Millions are quarantined, public spaces are empty, and teleconferencing has become the new normal in a world focused on flattening the curve of COVID-19. The coronavirus knows no boundaries.
Regardless of race, region or religion – everyone everywhere has felt its effects. Despite the social distance, people are reaching out, showing solidarity with those affected, and reminding us of our ability to come together in times of great need.
These are some of the stories of inspirational people coming together to raise money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which supports the World Health Organization’s (WHO) lifesaving work on COVID-19 prevention, detection, and response around the world.
Joshua DiMezza has played video games his entire life. When he was diagnosed with cancer, video games helped him get through hospital visits and chemotherapy.
“Gaming gave me a great place to communicate with other people,” he said.
Since 2018, he’s used Facebook Gaming to create fundraisers and give back to communities in need. The global outbreak of COVID-19 spurred him into action again. Joshua began hosting regular game streams for his followers, encouraging viewers to donate to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, a first-of-its-kind fund that allows both individuals and businesses to support WHO’s global response.
Today was absolutely amazing! We were able to run an 8 hour stream and raised $6,300 for @unfoundation to help with research and assistance with COVID19!
I am absolutely blown away by the community response for charity work. Thank you @FacebookGaming for the opportunity♥️ pic.twitter.com/YRY7W1iZCR
— DiMez Gaming (@DiMezGamingFB) March 20, 2020
In his first stream under the handle @DimezGaming, Joshua raised $1,155. Unsatisfied, he re-upped the effort and raised $6,310 the next week. “I’m not a medical expert but using my gaming and streaming platform, we can make a difference in our own unique way,” said Joshua.
Then he went one better, joining 180 streamers in the Facebook Gaming community who together raised over $58,000 for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, with followers donating anywhere from $5 to $800 as they watched. “Together our community can do our part to make some positive changes,” he said. Facebook will match donations up to $10 million for the COVID-10 Solidarity Response Fund. Get double for your donation, join Joshua, and support this cause.
Thank you. We called and you responded from across the world, raising money through streaming and donating – all of it supporting the @unfoundation‘s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. 💙 #covid19 pic.twitter.com/1cLGXaJlsb
— Facebook Gaming (@FacebookGaming) March 25, 2020
Funding through Fitness
In early March, Karen Forde was told to work from home and begin social distancing. Both her mother and her stepfather, who live in Ireland, have pre-existing medical conditions, making this global emergency all the more distressing.
“Social distancing is difficult for everyone. The world needs to stay apart and come together, and I just want to do my part,” says Karen.
To help pass the time in a productive — and healthy — way, she started a fitness challenge called 4,000 squats for COVID-19 to raise money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, deciding to match donations up to €1000. “It made sense to donate to the fund,” she said, “as money will be used to help WHO to mitigate the pandemic from a global perspective.”
So far she’s at 2,000 squats and counting. “It’s just my way of giving back to the community,” says Karen.
The Gift of Music
The theatrical community, like many in the entertainment industry, has been hit hard by this pandemic. Audiences are staying home, and most theaters have canceled shows or postponed seasons to encourage social distancing.
As Broadway went dark, TRW Musicals, an international licensing company for professional and amateur theater, had to stop its operations too.
But they soon saw music and theater go virtual with videos of Italians singing from their balconies, which inspired Broadway star Laura Benanti to invite kids whose high school musicals were canceled to share videos of their songs with her on Twitter.
“We felt instantly the power of music to transcend borders, and that universality of our core business inspired Steve to make a commitment to helping in some way.”
The company then launched a song-sharing campaign to brighten the spirits of crestfallen artists everywhere. TRW asked its community of performers and fans to share a song from one of their 100 musicals to post on its channels. As this young girl’s TRW song-share puts it: “Let’s not talk about anything else but love.”
Steve Spiegel, the founder and CEO of TRW Musicals, decided to donate $10,000 to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, explaining, “Theater provides a non-judgmental, supportive community — the World Health Organization provides a non-judgmental, supportive means to live.”
Scared for Good
Conventions across the country have been postponed or canceled, including a horror-themed tabletop gaming convention by Gehenna Gaming. So they decided to go virtual by offering fans of all things horror the opportunity to play their favorite tabletop games and connect with artists, developers, and publishers — all online. Now branded “Virtual Horror Con,” it is the world’s first convention for virtual tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) and will take place April 4-5.
“Our goal is to give gamers who are now missing out on their favorite events some levity during a serious situation,” says Ian Muller, Co-Founder of Gehenna Gaming.
In addition to lifting spirits, the Convention is donating all proceeds from ticket and raffle sales to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in an effort to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We hope that connecting the tabletop gaming community with relief efforts will bring everyone some peace of mind in these hard times, and help us all stand in solidarity in the face of a global crisis.”
To learn more about the Convention, visit gehennagaming.com/vhc/.
In his professional life, Chin Fong works as a 3D artist in Seattle for Facebook Oculus, but in his free time he illustrates themes of a sci-fi dystopian future — which now bear an eerie resemblance to our new reality as a result of COVID-19.
That’s why Chin decided to use his talent to raise money for WHO’s efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus. Matching 100% of sales over one week, Chin raised $550 for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
“It’s a relatively small amount of money, but I was proud that I could contribute with the use of my personal art business,” says Chin.
He says he’s one of the lucky ones. Many people are losing jobs and struggling to find food for the week. This is why Chin launched immediately into another fundraiser for a food bank in his local city, again matching 100% of sales. “I have the opportunity to help donate to WHO or a local food bank, and I encourage everyone in the same position to do so,” he says.
These are just some of the amazing stories of solidarity from around the world as people come together to help those affected by COVID-19.
No fundraiser is too crazy, no donation too small.
This is a global fight — and it will take all of us to win it.
To join the effort, please consider donating to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Every donation makes a difference. Support WHO’s life-saving efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by giving to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Donations made via Facebook will be matched up to $10,000,000. Through April 30, 2020, for every $1 you donate here, Google.org will donate $2, up to $5,000,000.