Many people who have never sought assistance from a nonprofit or a government agency have been forced to do so since the coronavirus pandemic hit.


Lost wages and lost jobs have become common. The number of people in need continues to increase while the number of people who are able to help has decreased.


That makes it vitally important for those who are more fortunate to step up and help those who have fallen on hard times.


Which is why #GivingTuesdayNow has emerged. You might be familiar with #GivingTuesday, the social media phenomenon that began in 2012 to encourage people to engage in acts of charity after spending big on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.


Since its founding, #GivingTuesday has inspired charitable online giving around the world, resulting in increased donations, volunteer hours and activities that benefit communities worldwide.


We hope that inspiration continues as we deal with the unprecedented turmoil brought on by the pandemic.


The needs are great now and organizations across the globe are asking people to do what they can.


It can be a simple gesture, such as thanking all the essential workers who are putting their lives on the line every day as most of us shelter at home.


Medical personnel, police officers, firefighters, grocery store workers, truck drivers and social service providers on the front lines cannot work from the safety of their homes. They are out there keeping us safe and providing for our many needs.


Included in that group are the multimedia journalists of the Rockford Register Star. Our team members have been out and about gathering information that is important to you.


News organizations are promoting Tuesday as #GivingNewsDay, encouraging readers to support the work we do by signing up for a digital subscription or gifting such a subscription to a friend or family member. Go to www.rrstar.com/subscribenow?tpcc=EMDY20


Some of the information we provide is about how to get help, especially from United Way of Rock River Valley partner agencies.


United Way again has stepped up to help in this time of great need. The agency has collected more than $600,000 in its COVID-19 Emerging Needs Fund. An anonymous donor helped establish the fund with an initial $10,000 gift. Then, the Kjellstrom Family Foundation pledged $125,000, and the fund has grown further thanks to individual and corporate donations.


On April 10, $250,000 was awarded to 34 agencies to provide for the immediate needs of people affected by the pandemic: child care, personal protection equipment, food, N95 masks and the like.


The next round of helping will start soon and there may be a third or fourth round, depending on needs and money collected.


“Any leftover money in the Emerging Needs fund will be transferred to a Recovery Fund that will be put in place this summer and fall to help nonprofits recover from the financial loss they’ve taken and allow them to become vibrant sustainable organizations again — something our community is very reliant on,” said Linda Sandquist, vice president of United Way of Rock River Valley.


You may prefer to give directly to your church or favorite nonprofit, but we have found that United Way has the greatest reach and greatest impact in our community every day of the year.


Perhaps #GIvingTuesdayNow can be a catalyst for even greater generosity from a generous community.


The #GivingTuesday website encourages us to:


•Support health care workers by donating supplies, advocating for them, and staying home.


•Give to the organizations that you love most — no amount is too little and nonprofits need our support.


•Help out small businesses by buying gift cards or writing an online review.


•Combat loneliness by reaching out to a neighbor, relative, senior or veteran.


#GivingTuesday is planned for Dec. 1 and we’re sure there will be even more need in our community then. However, there are many people who would appreciate help now. Please give.


Donations may be made to the United Way COVID-19 Emerging Needs Fund in the following ways:


• Text the word TOGETHER to 40403


• Go online to UnitedWayRRV.org


• Mail a check payable to United Way of Rock River Valley, 612 N. Main St., Suite 300, Rockford, IL 61103. Indicate United Way COVID-19 Emerging Needs Fund in the memo line of the check.