"What can I do to help?" is a powerful phrase. But someone who really needs you will be especially appreciative of the offer if you don't expect anything in return.
In the last week, my bank has started offering new products, discounts and benefits as "Our way of thanking you for all that you do." I even got a call from someone who just wanted to "check in and see if I needed anything." OK, that's nice. But all I keep thinking is,
"Where were you guys 18 months ago when the bottom fell out of the economy?"
It's easy to offer help when it benefits you. But tough times are great opportunities for you to make a real difference for someone who could use your help. So reach out. Offer to pitch in and help. And do it without necessarily expecting anything in return.
You'll end up doing a lot for people at times when they really need it.