Like many of you, I’m home with my family and feeling pulled in so many directions as a parent, partner, employee, citizen, friend, and teacher. A constant question I hear every day in all those spaces is: “How can I help? I want to do more than just donate money.”
The news we receive during this time of COVID-19 is full of overwhelming need and the directive to stay home can create feelings of helplessness and hopelessness—which doesn’t make being home any better.
But guess what? We’re here to help you help out! There are lots of a volunteer activities that can be done remotely or even passively. We’re all in this together and we’ll all get through it that way too.
Volunteering can be an empowering way to connect with your community and nurture your sense of well-being.
Here are some great ideas and resources for low-contact, high-impact volunteering.
(Remember to follow all public health guidelines when you volunteer!)
Make a mask!
Stay protected, There are patterns all over the web and your mask can make a tremendous difference. Consider making and donating mask to the hospital or to one of the many organizations that need masks to continue to safely serve their community. View The Whole U’s sew-your-own tutorial here.
Got a car?
One of my dearest friends is currently volunteering with her local food bank. She is delivering food to folks who can’t come to the food bank. Masked and gloved volunteers load her car and she drops groceries on the porch.
Consider volunteering at your local food bank. You bring the mask, they have the gloves. The number of people getting food from food banks has increased dramatically and Food Banks need help sorting groceries and packing bags for delivery.
Want to chat?
I belong to the Elks and a board members called to make sure my family and I were okay. It was really nice to have someone check on me. Check out the below links for some great places you can volunteer to make calls from your home.
The need has grown exponentially, but donations are down–especially since many blood drives are conducted in workplaces. The Red Cross and Bloodworks Northwest have revamped their donation procedures to make it safe and easy to give the gift of life.
See something, pick up something. Now that the parks are reopened, consider taking a walk with an empty garbage bag and gloves and picking up some litter. Think about making it a family project.
Want a group project?
Think about putting together a neighborhood lunch squad for a program that provides sack lunches – like New Horizons – that feeds people in need. How does it work? One person heads up the squad and makes sandwiches and assembles the bag – the rest of the crew drops off things like fruit/vegetables, chips and drinks. The squad leader puts things together and a sack lunch is good to go! Or, consider putting together a group to sponsor a meal at Ronald McDonald House.
The United Way of King County and VolunteerMatch have hundreds of volunteer opportunities for you to try out. The lists are updated regularly and you can find a gig in your neighborhood that suits your skills and your ability. It’s a win-win.
Maybe none of those things are for you and you’re looking for something smaller or more personal. Here are some of the things my family has done. We celebrated May Day by dropping off lilacs on our neighbors’ porch. We made meals for a sick friend and her family and shared them with a porch drop (we also found the best recipe for apple cake ever). This turned into a two-fer since my kids helped cook and learned a little math by doubling the recipe – a total homeschool win.
Look around and see if there is something that needs doing that you can safely do and do it. A collection of small acts of kindness makes a big difference!
Jolyn Mason is Campaign Manager of the UW Combined Fund Drive. Learn more about how to support your favorite charities and how to get involved here.