A Guide to Volunteering – 8 Ways You Can Help During COVID-19
Posted Tuesday, May 19th, 2020 by Christina Brown, Sterling Volunteers
Given the current COVID-19 environment and its growing sensitivity, many of us are finding ourselves wanting to help, but also wondering how.
This is a unique time in our lives, and with it come unique needs that many communities are facing across the nation. With that in mind, let’s consider some of the ways to help direct volunteer service efforts while still maintaining social distancing.
Here’s how you can help:
1. Local Food Bank Donations
The need to be prepared applies to everyone, regardless of income level. Food banks are actively accepting donations of non-perishable food items to be made available to low-income families. Feeding America needs healthy food donations to meet the increasing demand for providing emergency food boxes, drive-thru pantries, and long-term support to help feed people in response to COVID-19. Volunteers are needed to sort and pack, assist at mobile pantries and no-contact distributions, deliver meals, and volunteer from home. Find a local foodbank opportunity near you here: https://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/volunteer
Meals on Wheels America has set up a COVID-19 Response Fund where 100% of funds go to supporting national and local efforts across the US. In most areas, Meals on Wheels is an “essential” service. For those who can and want to volunteer, while not all Meals on Wheels providers are able to accept new volunteers at this time, there are some areas with high demand. Reach out directly to your local program to better understand their unique needs, or you can be matched with a local provider for Meals on Wheels America’s “America, Let’s Do Lunch” program here: https://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/americaletsdolunch/
2. Donate Blood
There is no greater calling than to help save lives. Right now, giving blood is one of the ways to help fight against lives lost during the coronavirus pandemic. The American National Red Cross urgently needs the help of blood donors to keep hospitals stocked during this uncertain time. Donating blood products or being a blood drive host is a lifeline for maintaining a sufficient and stable blood supply. Healthy donors can schedule an appointment here: https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/dlp/coronavirus–covid-19–and-blood-donation.html
3. Support for Essential Responders on the Front Lines
Those on the front lines are being pushed to their limits. A humble act of preparing food and sending meals to hospital staff or other essential responders battling the pandemic can go a long way. Some other creative ways to safely show support is by writing thank-you notes, reaching out and sending texts of gratitude to family and friends who are essential workers, and creating signs of thanks to display.
Support neighbors and communities by visiting United Way to search for opportunities that respond to essential workers amid the COVID-19 crisis. Volunteer needs are changing rapidly, so be sure to check back frequently at https://www.unitedway.org/get-involved/volunteer. Help is needed from volunteers to make protective equipment. Look for ways where organizations are collecting donations and sourcing much-needed supplies like sewing homemade masks. Another source, GetUSPPE, is looking for volunteers to help. Learn more at https://getusppe.org/
4. Order or Donate to a Local Business
Tapping into our own communities of influence can be a tremendous support for small businesses. Taking time to encourage followers on your social media channels to call for support can make a big difference. Sharing in stories, posting about a fundraising drive, and posting rallying cries for local restaurants and retailers are some of the ways to shine a light. Neighborhood Facebook pages have a become a particularly helpful way for people to call out their favorite small businesses in town to support. Make it a priority to give back in whatever way you can. Whether sharing information on social media, placing orders, tipping, buying gift cards, or donating funds, your community of small businesses will be positively impacted.
5. Tutoring and Learning Opportunities
With school closures, donation opportunities also exist with local support agencies that are providing packaged snacks as well as academic activity materials to help with learning while at home. A key consequence to prolonged school closures could be learning gaps, an educational knowledge gap among different groups of students. Many organizations nationwide are focused on bridging this gap and have volunteer tutoring opportunities available. Here is a unique site working to match teens with virtual volunteering opportunities within Title 1 schools across the country: http://teensgive.org/virtual/
Math tutoring is another area in need of volunteer academic coaches to help low-income high school students. In response to COVID-19, UPchieve is giving Title 1 schools free access to its platform to help connect students with live academic support. Learn how you can volunteer at: https://upchieve.org/volunteer/
6. Skill-Based Online Mentorship
Skill-based volunteering is a significant need across all sectors nationwide. From grant writing to translation services, these critical service needs can be fulfilled through online volunteering. MicroMentor provides mentoring assistance to small business owners that need service consultations and general advice. These short-term projects can make a critical difference for an up-and-coming entrepreneur who might be struggling at this time. Visit https://www.micromentor.org/coronavirus-and-small-business/ to learn more.
7. Unique Virtual Opportunities
As virtual volunteer opportunities are on the rise, some are easy to engage with via downloadable apps. For example, the Be My Eyes app focuses on bringing sight to the blind and low-vision population. This is a simple connection point that can help bridge everything from reading a recipe card to distinguishing colors. Check out: https://www.bemyeyes.com/
8. Online and On-site Volunteer Opportunities
For ways to make an impact in your local community, our valued partner VolunteerMatch has a COVID-19 response directory by geography of current opportunities for volunteers to help remotely or on-site. Start searching for opportunities at https://www.volunteermatch.org/covid19.
More online volunteer opportunities to help others around the world are easily found via United Nations Volunteers, a resource dedicated solely to matching virtual volunteers to much-needed support opportunities: https://www.onlinevolunteering.org/en
These volunteer opportunities are a starting guide for you to consider so you can help during this unique time of need. You may even find that volunteering is a good way to lift your spirits. Stay strong and volunteer on.
The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Sterling is not a law firm, and none of the information contained in this notice is intended as legal advice. Clients are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel about the impacts of any requirements. This, and other important information, can be found on the Sterling website at sterlingcheck.com.