U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Letters From Ben

April 4, 2020

All Hands on Deck 

Dear Friend,

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” Right now, this question is crucially important. With the COVID-19 outbreak seriously challenging our health care system and upturning day-to-day life for people all across the country, we must remember that none of us is facing this challenge alone. We are in this together, and we will make it through by continuing to take care of one another.

In that spirit, I am urging every Marylander to consider how they can lend a hand to help our community through this difficult time. Whether it is by making a financial contribution, giving blood, volunteering time, or donating medical supplies, each of us can do something to make a difference. Meanwhile, I am fighting to get non-profit organizations the federal support they deserve to continue providing critical services to those most in need.

We need all hands on deck. If you are a Marylander or a private company that is ready to pitch in, or are a non-profit organization looking for support, read on for some resources and guidance.

Ways that Marylanders can Contribute

Donate blood. There is a severe blood shortage. Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. Click here to learn more and schedule an appointment near you.

Join the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a force of dedicated and trained medical volunteers who assist in a public health emergency. The MRC has been activated in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and is recruiting active and retired health care professionals, medical students, and other interested volunteers. To learn more and register, click here.

Donate or sell medical supplies. If you would like to donate or sell bulk medical supplies or equipment (not individual items or small qualities), please reach out to the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Produce a COVID-19-related product. To produce a product related to COVID-19 response, reach out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

  • If you are a private company that wants to produce a product relatedto the COVID response – email nbeoc@max.gov.
  • If you are interested indoing business with FEMA and supporting the response to COVID- 19 with your company’s non-medical goods and/or services, please submit your inquiry to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Procurement Action Innovative Response Team (PAIR) team at DHSIndustryLiaison@hq.dhs.gov.

Import medical supplies (N95 masks, gowns, gloves) that may not be FDA compliant from other countries. The FDA has taken action to increase U.S. supplies by providing instructions to manufacturers importing PPE and other devices.

Volunteer and/or donate locally.

  • Visit Maryland’s Service and Volunteerism page to:
    • Find volunteer connectors who can direct you to volunteering opportunities in your county or region.
    • Find Maryland organizations that are active in disaster.
    • Read guidelines for how to volunteer safely.
  • Consider giving to the most critical volunteer and donation needs in Maryland. For some options, click here.

*Please take note of the following to ensure that your contributions of goods, money, or time are most effective:

  • Financial contributions are preferred. Cash donations help to avoid the labor and expense of sorting, packing, transporting, and distributing donated goods, and voluntary relief agencies use cash to meet victims’ specific needs more quickly.

  • To prevent waste, donations of goods should be made only to agencies that have requested specific items. Get precise information about what items are needed before collecting any goods for donation.

  • Before traveling to the disaster area to help, learn where and when your skills will be needed from your local volunteer connector.

  • Review this guidance from the Federal Trade Commission on how to avoid charity scams and this site about scams related to the coronavirus.

How Non-Profit Organizations can Receive Support

The services of many nonprofits are in high demand at this time. If you are a nonprofit in need of financial relief, many of the resources for small businesses established in the latest coronavirus legislative package (the CARES Act) are also available to you. These include:

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans. These are available to most 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) non-profits with 500 employees or fewer. The program provides zero-fee loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Up to 8 weeks of average payroll and other costs will be forgiven if you retain your employees and their salary levels.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Economic Injury Grants. These grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) from the Small Business Administration. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, or pay business obligations. To access the advance, you first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance. 
  • Employee Retention Credit for Employers Subject to Closure or Experiencing Economic Hardship. This provision would provide a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers, including non-profits, whose operations have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel or group meetings.

To learn more about these programs and how your non-profit organization can benefit from the financial relief initiatives in the CARES Act, download this comprehensive guide that I created.

These are exceedingly difficult times for our state and for our country. But I have seen Marylanders unite to overcome all sorts of adversity, and I have no doubt that we will do the same in response to the current health crisis. Stay strong, stay compassionate, and know that I am working to keep you safe.

Your Friend,


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