By MIRIAM YORDANOS
With laws in effect urging people to maintain social distance in order to prevent high amounts of coronavirus cases, many organizations have temporarily discontinued their volunteer programs or no longer accept new volunteers.
Volunteering has many benefits for students and the community. It helps individuals learn to problem solve, develop social skills, meet new people, and gain experience for a future career. According to the Help Guide, students partaking in the community “can also help protect [their] mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep [them] mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.”
Shannon Cockerill, a junior at Redlands East Valley, does over 100 hours of community service each year.
Cockerill stated, “Sometimes, when you feel lost, helping someone else find their path leads you to your own.”
Below are 5 ways you can gain community service hours safely during this pandemic.
- Check in with seniors citizens
With the coronavirus outbreak, older adults and people who have pre-existing medical conditions are at higher risk of suffering from COVID-19. Many seniors have been isolated in order to protect themselves from the virus. Being isolated from members of the community and their loved ones can lead to loneliness and cause depression, anxiety and more.
Contact local senior centers, nursing homes and retirement communities in the area to offer help by talking to senior members.
- Tutor Students
Due to the new laws in place pertaining to COVID-19, the district shifted from a traditional education experience to distance learning. Distance learning consists of 100% online learning for students and staff through the use of virtual class meetings and assignments.
This new method of learning has led some students to struggle understanding new concepts. Riley Anthony, a senior at Redlands East Valley, provides a solution to this problem by creating the Distance Learning Exchange as a forum for students and parents to ask for free tutoring and students and parents to offer free tutoring.
Anthony stated, “I created this group to help student who need help but also create opportunities for community service that other students might need,”
Individuals interested in helping students with their academic needs, join the facebook group called Redlands/Mentone Distance Learning Exchange (DLE) for more information.
- Make care packages for homeless shelters
Due to how rapidly the virus is spreading, homeless individuals are very vulnerable to receiving the illness. Along with the virus outbreak, many families have been affected by the wildfires spreading in California. Many are in shelters, as they have been forced to evacuate their homes. This creates a need for care packages for members residing in local homeless shelters. Some items to include in the care package are hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, cleansing wipes, cold weather clothing, blankets and non-perishable snacks & bottled water.
- Create and donate homemade masks
With state orders encouraging the use of masks for everyone and requiring them to be worn in public places, masks are essential to community members. Homemade masks can be easily made with any type of sewing material and sewing machines. Check out Deaconess to find many different organizations in need of mask donations near you.
- Donate goods you produced
Many students have found themselves starting small businesses as quarantine has left them more time to pursue entrepreneurship. If students donate the items they have created in their spare time, the hours spent producing the goods created can count toward volunteer hours.
Also, check out resources, such as VolunteerMatch, that notify individuals of upcoming volunteer opportunities near their location for more and new ways to give back to the community.
An infographic describing different ways for students to get involved with the community during a pandemic. (Miriam Yordanos / ETHIC NEWS)