Many charity organizations in Taiwan have seen donations fall by half or more since local COVID-19 cases began to spike in May, with some sending urgent calls for renewed support as virus measures ease.
During a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert from May 19 to Tuesday last week, in-person donations to the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF) dropped 80 percent, TFCF Social Resources Department director Lin Hsiu-feng (林秀鳳) said.
Corporate and private donations also fell sharply, as businesses lost income and individuals suddenly encountered financial hardship, she added.
Photo courtesy of the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families
The disruptions resulted in a 45 percent decline in the fund’s donation income, while donations of supplies have entirely stopped, she said.
“Social welfare groups have all entered a cold spell,” Lin said.
Even the TFCF’s regular operations have been affected, Lin said, giving for example a case in which an aid recipient was reported by a neighbor for gathering illegally after going to the fund to collect a monthly support package.
Many service and gig workers have lost their livelihoods due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making the resources provided by welfare organizations more necessary than ever, she said.
Aside from distributing emergency funding to 2,300 households, TFCF workers call recipients at least twice a week to check on them and deliver supplies in urgent cases — even to remote mountain areas — to ensure that no one goes hungry during the pandemic, she said.
The fund helps nearly 30,000 households, 60 percent of which do not have a computer, Internet access or other equipment needed for remote education, Lin said.
Fearing they would be expected to provide compensation for any damage to borrowed school equipment, many families have pulled their children out of school or have multiple children sharing one cellphone to do schoolwork, she said.
To ensure educational equity in digital learning even after the pandemic, TFCF is calling for donations of tablets, computers and other devices, Lin added.
Meanwhile, Huashan Social Welfare Foundation representative Yang Ya-ling (楊雅苓) said that donations to the organization have halved since the local COVID-19 outbreak was first detected in May.
Receipt donations have also dropped and volunteers have stopped going to the foundation, but the most apparent loss has been donations of goods such as nutritional supplements and nonperishable food items, Yang said.
Directors of local offices have been left to replenish necessary articles and deliver pandemic supplies to elderly recipients themselves, she added.
Community care centers have been closed during the outbreak, depriving elderly people of interpersonal interaction, Yang said, adding that one person even called herself on a public phone out of desperation.
The foundation has maintained its phone conversation service to help older people retain their mental acuity, she said.
The Genesis Social Welfare Foundation said it has also been hit hard by the pandemic.
The foundation cares for more than 800 people in vegetative states by providing around-the-clock nursing care, restorative facilities, adult diapers, nutritional supplements, bill payment sercives and more, costing at least NT$4,000 per person every month, it said.
However, as people have been shopping less since the local outbreak began, receipt donations have been severely affected, resulting in lost income of more than NT$3 million, it added.
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