With COVID infections, hospitalizations and deaths once again on the rise, the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund continues to help those hit hardest by the impacts of the virus.

Since March 2020, more than $83 million has been raised for groups, foundations and organizations that offer support and assistance to those Garden State residents who are most vulnerable, according to First Lady Tammy Murphy, the founding chairperson of the fund.

Who’s been donating?

Murphy said some of the 62,000 donors have been large businesses and corporations in New Jersey, but most are individuals including a child that raised $50 from lemonade stand sales and retired first aid workers who donated money.

"I mean the stories were the most heartwarming ever,” Murphy said.

Contributions to the fund have come from every county in New Jersey, almost every state in the nation and 12 different countries, according to Murphy.

Lemonade stand in front of a house

Where is the Money Going?

Murphy said when the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund was first set up more than 20 months ago, “the first round of money that we gave out went largely to shoring up food security across our state.”

A total of 134 food pantries and shelters throughout the state were helped.

“We also did some funding of telehealth and telemedicine, particularly for vulnerable populations,” Murphy said.

She said financial assistance has also gone to help provide educational equipment and tutoring, child care, mental health support and PPE. Other funding sources have included small businesses, church group block parties offering vaccines and to aid those caught in a housing crisis.

“Some of the people who were being evicted or renters, to make sure they were okay, as well as landlords,” she said.

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Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

What's next?

And while the height of the pandemic seems to be behind us, the fund is still operational.

“We are still functioning. We are still giving 100% of the funds back to the state of New Jersey in thoughtful ways,” Murphy said.

Originally, the fund was supposed to be disbanded at the end of last year.

For those that want to help, Murphy said they continue to accept donations.

"If people are feeling that that’s something they might like to do, then be my guest. Please lean in. If the pandemic keeps going, we keep going as well,” Murphy said.

For those that wish to donate, they can do so by visiting the Pandemic Relief Fund website.

"While we are mindful of the changes that lie ahead, we know together we can continue to help our most vulnerable neighbors get back on their feet,” Murphy said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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