Gene Sapakoff is a columnist and College Sports Editor at The Post and Courier with focus mostly on Clemson, South Carolina, SEC and ACC athletics. But also golf, the Charleston RiverDogs, Atlanta Braves, Carolina Panthers. And road food.

anthem usc citadel baseball

These baseball fans enjoyed a South Carolina-Citadel game at Charleston's Riley Park in 2017. But baseball and other live sporting events have vanished during the coronavirus pandemic, giving some sports fans extra time on their hands as volunteer needs increase. File/Staff

Sports was there for us in World War II after President Franklin Roosevelt ordered that Major League Baseball, then the only popular professional sport in the country, continue. The National Pastime, FDR insisted, would help Americans in “taking their minds off” a tough time.

Sports came to the rescue again after in 2001 soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks. President George W. Bush wore an FDNY jacket and threw out the first pitch at a Diamondbacks-Yankees World Series game.

It was a dramatic, uniting moment that transcended sports and U.S. resolve.

But in the Us vs. Virus mess the main message from sports is this: “eventually” and “postponed.”

Sports is not there for America (yet).

But sports fans can fill a void in their communities (now).

Sports certainly are a relatively tiny concern within the grand global pandemic context.

But healthy sports fans — with no NCAA Tournament basketball, NBA, NHL, Masters or spring training baseball games to watch — probably have more extra time on their hands than the average person asked to work or study from home.

Meanwhile, volunteer shortages and needs pile up.

There are great opportunities to help, both in-person and from your own home.

Keep in mind that many regular volunteers in the following programs are senior citizens presently discouraged from getting out and about, thus opening up roster spots.

A Charleston area snapshot, which surely reflects needs everywhere else (keeping in mind conditions and needs are subject to change):

Meals on Wheels

Home-bound with limited dining options is a new normal to most of us, but a way of life for others.

“Our office has been inundated with wonderful offers of help,” said Donna Cook, Executive Director of the Charleston Area Seniors' Meals on Wheels of Charleston.

To best utilize volunteers, the organization’s staff has developed an Adopt a Senior program.

Basic idea: Pair home-delivered meal clients with an outside volunteer who would agree to check on that client by phone to see what that client may need on a personal level (food delivery to the porch, toilet paper drop-off, etc.).

“The client and the volunteer would both agree to this and understand they both respect the social distancing requirements and CDC recommendations,” Cook said.

Monetary and food donations are always welcome, and there are other Meals on Wheels programs in the Lowcountry, including East Cooper Meals on Wheels.

The best of health, hospital and science coverage in South Carolina, delivered to your inbox weekly.


For more information, contact Meals on Wheels at 843 722-4127 or charlestonareaseniors.org/meals-on-wheels

Trident United Way

Staff at the Lowcountry’s major charity organization umbrella (tuw.org) has been “pondering things we can do to engage people both in person and virtually,” said Brian DeRoy, Senior Content and Communications Manager.

DeRoy suggested the Thank-a-Teacher program (tuw.org/thank-a-teacher), a cool online way to support teachers.

And also the Lowcountry Food Bank (lowcountryfoodbank.org), which does emergency food box packing and has shifts available.

And Tricounty Family Ministries (tricountyfamilyministries.org), which distributes emergency items in a safe outside set-up that limits in-person contact.

Most of these programs are in greater need of financial contributions, too.

Ronald McDonald House

Charleston’s Ronald McDonald House (rmhcharleston.org), which provides a temporary home for families of children undergoing extensive medical treatment, of course wants to limit person-to-person exposure. Its Sponsor a Meal program asks for $200 to help provide three meals a day for the 32 families at the downtown facility.

The Ronald McDonald House also has an Amazon wish list to help stock the place for needed items.

Water Mission

The Charleston-based effort to combat the global clean water crisis (watermission.org) on Saturday had a virtual Walk for Water and will have more virtual events.

Faith-based programs

Sunday morning worship has gone from close-contact communion to virtual services.

But the Holy City has mobilized as rarely before.

An announcement from one of the Charleston area’s largest churches this week: “If you are in good health and are willing to volunteer to do things such as grocery shopping, errands, transportation to medical appointments, or prescription pickup, not just for our older members, but for any of our members, please contact the team leader.”

Mosques, synagogues and churches are always there for the community, and the community can be there for them, too. You don’t have to be a member to get involved in bonding within or among faiths that can last for years.

Cats and Dogs

Hopefully, pet adoptions don’t come to a standstill. A furry friend is a wonderful thing if you’re stuck at home. Contact shelters for specifics.

We will get through this together — friends, strangers, humans, animals — and we will feel so much better about each other on the other side.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff