U.S. faith-based groups fight COVID-19 worldwide

People standing between tents (© Mary Altaffer/AP Images)
Medical personnel work at the Samaritan's Purse field hospital for COVID-19 patients in New York's Central Park on April 1. (© Mary Altaffer/AP Images)

U.S. donors of all major religions are helping fight COVID-­19 at home and abroad.

The United States’ diverse religious communities are setting up emergency hospitals, trucking meals across the country, and supporting small businesses around the world.

In early April, faith-based humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse set up an emergency field hospital in New York City’s Central Park when the number of COVID-19 infections began climbing. The 68-bed facility for treating seriously ill patients is similar to a smaller one the group had set up to treat patients near Milan, Italy.

“People are dying from the coronavirus, hospitals are out of beds and the medical staff are overwhelmed,” said Franklin Graham, the president of the Christian charity. “This is what Samaritan’s Purse does — we respond in the middle of crises to help people.”

The U.S. government has led the global response to the pandemic with more than $900 million in emergency health, humanitarian and economic aid. Private U.S. donors have given an additional $3 billion to fight COVID-19 abroad.

According to the Philanthropy Roundtable, a nonprofit that advises donors, U.S. donors give more than $44 billion a year to help impoverished communities around the world. Most donations come from middle-class people. Religious faith motivates more Americans to give than any other factor, the Roundtable says.

U.S. Jews, Muslims and Christians provide help

American Jewish World Service is providing food, masks, hand sanitizer and financial aid in the 19 countries where the group works in Asia, Africa, Central America and the Caribbean.

Two men carrying boxes in residential area (© Bebeto Matthews/AP Images)
Volunteers with An-Noor Cultural Center in Elmhurst, New York, deliver food on April 22 to a family quarantined during the COVID-19 crisis. (© Bebeto Matthews/AP Images)

Driven in part by Ramadan’s tenet of giving, U.S. Muslims are treating COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals and making donations. The Zakat Foundation of America, named for the Islamic pillar of giving, delivered thousands of examination gloves to hospitals in Chicago.

Christian charity Convoy of Hope announced May 1 that it had surpassed its goal of delivering 10 million meals to people in need. The organization is continuing to ship food across the United States for distribution by local churches.

HOPE International is helping small businesses survive the economic effects of the pandemic. The Christian charity helps entrepreneurs in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia with loans and financial services. Continued assistance will help businesses weather the economic hardship, the group says.

“In my life, I have never seen a moment where nonprofit organizations are coming together more than this particular time,” HOPE International president and CEO Peter Greer said.