As the stock market plunged on Thursday by the most in more than three decades, Kathleen Purdy was ordering more groceries for Hillside Food Outreach, a pantry that delivers to the elderly, disabled and needy in the suburbs north of New York City.

She was buying more supplies, especially frozen fruit and vegetables, because Westchester County, the site of one of the U.S.’s largest confirmed coronavirus outbreaks, asked Purdy’s organization to be ready to bring food to residents who were quarantined in their homes.

“We don’t want anybody to be hungry,” said Purdy, the organization’s founder and executive director. She was also recruiting volunteers who wouldn’t mind dropping off supplies for people afflicted with the virus -– with new procedures: No personal contact or even door-knocking allowed. “I am amazed at the number of volunteers who stepped up to do the deliveries.”

The coronavirus outbreak puts nonprofits in a bind. The needs of charities are set to soar and the financial situations of many wealthy families and foundations that help fund them have deteriorated.

“We can see charitable contributions starting to slow down,” said Tom Gabriel, chief executive officer of United Way of Westchester and Putnam. “We know fundraising events are being canceled. At the same time there’s been an increase in demand for services.”

Children’s Museum
Some very rich people are trying to fill the gap.

Ten minutes into a board meeting Thursday for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Laurie Tisch, who’s been involved with the institution for almost four decades, said she’d give $100,000 if the board matched her. The colorful and educational museum is closing on Saturday, with no date set for a re-opening.

Part of the family who runs Loews Corp., Tisch wanted to start a fund to help the museum and its employees navigate the shutdown, to do things like pay wages for workers who’ll lose hours and extend online resources for families cooped up at home. The museum, on New York’s Upper West Side, serves families of many income levels, including a program that brings moms incarcerated at Rikers Island, the city’s main jail complex, to the museum to spend time with their kids. That program also has been suspended.

Lauren Tuck, wife of former National Football League player Justin Tuck, and 28 other board members more than matched Tisch’s donation by the end of the day.

Tisch said the experience of making gifts after 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy served as her guide.

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