ST. JOSEPH — A new fund has been set up to help area nonprofits that are working to support the basic human needs of residents during the coronavirus emergency.

The Southwest Michigan Cares Fund has already received $250,000 in pledges, according to a news release from the Berrien Community Foundation (BCF) and United Way of Southwest Michigan (UWSWM).

The initial focus area of the fund is immediate response for nonprofits providing emergent basic human needs. The fund will then consider grants addressing the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It is our top priority to take care of the members of our community and to help find the best way for resources to meet needs,” said BCF President Lisa Cripps-Downey in the news release. “During this unprecedented time in our history, it is crucial for us to work together to ensure that families are supported and organizations remain solvent and able to continue to serve.”

The Berrien Community Foundation and United Way of Southwest Michigan are working together to administer the fund, and have already each pledged $50,000 to it.

Other $50,000 donors include the Hanson Family Foundation, Spectrum Health Lakeland and Whirlpool Corp. Other major funders at this time include the American Electric Power Foundation, the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, Meijer and individual donors.

“We do not know the full scope of how COVID-19 will impact families in our community,” said UWSWM President Anna Murphy in the release. “The generosity of these donors and the willingness of community funders to work together is crucial to the overall health and well-being of our area.”

According to the release, the BCF and UWSWM have been meeting remotely with nonprofits to assess the rapidly changing situation and quickly make funding available to address immediate needs.

A website, www.southwest michigancares.org, has been set up to provide information and resources, along with accept donations.

Donations can be directed to Berrien County, Cass County, Van Buren County – or all of Southwest Michigan.

In addition, people can text to give by texting SWMICARES to 41444, or send checks to: Berrien Community Foundation, Southwest Michigan Cares Fund, 2900 S. State St., Suite 2E, St. Joseph, MI 49085.

Nonprofits looking to apply for funding can do so at the website. Questions about the application or funding process can be directed to Amanda Drew at Amanda.drew@uwsm.org, or Susan Matheny at susanmatheny@berrien community.org.

Individuals and families needing assistance with basic needs during this time can call 211 for referrals or visit www.help4her.org or www.uwsm.org/2-1-1.

Information is also available on the Southwest Michigan Cares website, the BCF website at www.berriencommunity.org or the UWSWM website at www.uwsm.org.

Opportunities for people to volunteer or give back will also be posted on the website, www.southwest michigancares.org.

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPA Newman