July 22, 2020
How to make a difference in the world from the safety of your home.
If you would like to help others, but you're wondering how to do so while you're quarantining at home, there's good news. Thanks to technology that provides virtual ways to stay in touch, you can volunteer your help and skills virtually. And if you want to take a break from technology, there are other ways you can support others from the safety of your home, as well:
Here are 10 ways you can make a difference:
1. Help People in Crisis
Did you know that suicides increase during major crises, including pandemics? You can help support people in distress by taking suicide hotline calls, through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Calls to mental health and other types of hotlines have also increased during COVID-19. Many of these hotlines, including local ones, are looking for volunteers. And if you have a computer and an Internet connection, you may be able to volunteer for Crisis Text Line, a free, 24/7 text line for people in crisis in the United States.
2. Tutor Kids
If you have an Internet connection, you can tutor students in need. UPchieve is a free, online platform that connects low-income high school students in the U.S. with volunteer tutors. The United Way website allows you to search for local or national volunteer opportunities, such as virtual math tutors, reading coaches and mentors for children in foster care. Even your teenagers can help: Through TeensGive, high school students provide virtual tutoring primarily to children in grades four to 10.
3. Become a “Contact Tracer"
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the process of contact tracing includes determining people who have an infectious disease and those they have been in contact with and finding ways to stop the spread of disease. Cities, counties and states are looking for volunteer contact tracers, including Santa Clara County in California and the state of Michigan. The ability to speak a foreign language is a plus, as many communities have a large portion of non-English speaking residents.
4. Write Letters
During the quarantine, getting mail can be the highlight of someone's day. If you like to write, consider taking part in Operation Gratitude. The group has "an urgent need for letters" for deployed troops, first responders,and emergency medical personnel responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Want to cheer up a senior citizen? You can write letters to them through Letters of Love. And if you'd like to make a special connection with someone in need, several Pen Pal programs have been created during the pandemic, including those that pair senior citizens with kids.
5. Make Masks
We all need masks! If you're crafty, and would like to support health care workers around the country, consider taking part in the 100 Million Mask Challenge. The American Hospital Association has also provided information about local hospitals and organizations that need masks, as well as instructions and specifications to make masks for healthcare workers. And, of course, you can also make masks for your family, friends and neighbors.
6. Create Blankets and Quilts
Here's how to take your craftiness to the next level: A comfort object, often a type of blanket, can alleviate stress during difficult times. It's no wonder then that many organizations have put out a request for these items during the pandemic. Soldiers' Angels, which supports veterans and military families, is asking for blankets. Heartland Hospice in the Chicago area needs quilts for patients.
7. Provide Professional Services
Do you have business skills? If so, nonprofits need your help. Catchafire matches nonprofit organizations in need of services with volunteers who can provide them. During COVID-19, the top areas of need for Catchafire nonprofits include help with marketing strategy, video conferencing, tech systems, translation, remote work and webinar set up and training. In addition to Catchafire, the Taproot Foundation also matches nonprofits with professional service volunteers.
8. Foster a Pet
If you're a pet lover, and are quarantining at home, this is the perfect time to foster an animal. Fostering means bringing a homeless pet into your home to nurture and love it until it can be placed in a permanent home. When you foster an animal, you are opening up space at a shelter, which helps lessen the number of pets that need euthanization. Check out this video from The Humane Society to learn how to find animals in need of fostering and adoption.
9. Raise Money for Charity
Is there a charity near and dear to your heart? Consider setting up a virtual fundraiser. Virtual cooking class fundraisers, like this one benefiting the Ronald McDonald House in Dayton, Ohio, are popular. You can celebrate your birthday with the kids of St. Jude by dedicating your birthday and fundraising to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. If you have a unique talent, you can help raise funds, such as providing customized crossword puzzles for a donation to Feeding America.
10. Buy Stuff Online
Since we're spending more time at home, it's not surprising that online retailers, including Amazon, are seeing a dramatic increase in sales during the time of coronavirus. If you're already buying items on Amazon, you can donate a portion of those purchases to charity. When you sign up with the AmazonSmile program, you choose a 501(c)(3) charity. After buying through the AmazonSmile site, 0.5% of your eligible purchases gets sent to the charity of your choosing.