How to do good with a stimulus check you don’t need

Many people need more than $600 to get by during this time and some people don’t need it at all.
Many people need more than $600 to get by during this time and some people don’t need it at all.
Image: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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On Dec. 21, after months of partisan wrangling (paywall), the US Congress finally passed a $900 billion Covid-19 economic relief bill that will provide Americans with a one-time $600 check and raise or extend much-needed unemployment, rental, and small business assistance programs.

For many people, that won’t be nearly enough. Inequality deepened in the US during the pandemic. According to new data (pdf, p. 1) from the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame, the poverty rate jumped by 2.4% between June and November, reaching 11.7%. That’s 7.8 million more poor Americans than six months ago. Black and Hispanic people, children, and adults without a college degree suffered disproportionately.

Now, every adult with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 a year will get $600 and an additional $600 for each dependent. US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that the first payments could go out next week.

If you are lucky enough not to need $600 right now, you may be considering donating your check to charity. (If so, yay you, and know that generosity is good for your health.) Here are a few ways to do the most good with some extra bucks.

Support undocumented immigrants

Undocumented immigrants weren’t included in the first coronavirus aid package, and they’re not in this one eitheralthough this time, if they are married to an American, their spouse will get a check.

And yet, they need the help. In the US, most undocumented immigrants come from Latin America, and in a survey conducted by Pew in May, 59% of Latinos said their households experienced job losses or pay cuts due to Covid-19, compared to 43% among US adults generally. At the same time, undocumented people make up a disproportionate number of those who kept working throughout this pandemic because their jobs were deemed essential, exposing themselves to illness.

If you’d like to support them, you can donate to Movimiento Cosecha, which already raised $1,000,000 to help 3,337 undocumented workers and their families pay for food, utilities, and rent through its Covid-19 aid fund. You can also search for other fundraisers for undocumented immigrants on GoFundMe.

Feed hungry children

Many charities focus on hungry children. Here are a few:

If you want your money to go to your community, you could also search for a local food bank or vet local charities through sites like Charity Navigator.

Help out restaurants

The Children of Restaurant Employees nonprofit gives money to food and beverage industry workers whose children are sick. With $50, the group says it can cover a child’s out-of-pocket medical expenses for a week, while $150 will pay for a family of four’s weekly groceries.

The GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fund aims to raise $3 million (and has already raised $2.7 million) to hand out to small businesses, including restaurants, in the form of micro-grants. You can also find other fundraisers for small businesses here.

And since restaurants are struggling and need your business, be sure to order food from them, buy gift cards, and, as always, tip your delivery guy. T’is the season.