Virtual Volunteer Opportunities During COVID-19
By: Maya Sabharwal
Unfortunately, a lot of us had our volunteering opportunities cut short this year due to COVID-19. Keeping in mind that social distancing is very important in fighting the pandemic, volunteering remotely is a great way to get volunteer hours and show medical school admissions committees your dedication to service. There are plenty of ways to get involved, and it’s important to find an opportunity that aligns with your passions.
For those who speak multiple languages, Translators Without Borders volunteers participate in projects that range from translating medical texts to translating for crisis response. Additionally, the organization Paper Airplanes provides online tutoring to bridge gaps in language, higher education, and professional skills training for individuals in conflict-affected nations.
For those interested in mental health, Crisis Text Line volunteers work remotely to answer texts to people in crisis through active listening, collaborative problem solving, and safety planning. TrevorChat/TrevorText volunteers provide life-saving support to LGBTQ youth by answering chat messages or texts online from young people who are struggling with issues such as coming out, LGBTQ identity, depression, and suicide. 7 Cups provides free, 24/7 emotional support to millions via online chat facing challenges and hardships.
For those interested in helping the elderly, Brain Exercise Initiative focuses on preventing memory loss in senior citizens through practicing math, writing, and reading exercises over Skype, Zoom, or the phone. Through Love For The Elderly, individuals can write cards to send to elders in senior communities such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospices. Similarly, TimeSlips collects creative postcards to send to elders in need of companionship. However, with this organization, you can provide a return address to start a penpal exchange. In addition, Dorot is an organization that aims to alleviate social isolation among the elderly and homebound in New York City and Westchester by volunteers making weekly, friendly phone calls.
For the artistic and crafty, the Columbia American Medical Student Association is collecting Get Well Cards for patients and Thank You Cards for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis at Mount Sinai Morningside. Chemo Angels connects volunteers to a cancer patient to provide them with support through cards, uplifting messages, and positive energy. Moreover, Warm Up America! collects 7″x 9″ knitted and crocheted sections, finished afghans, and accessories from volunteers for people in need. Likewise, Binky Patrol accepts homemade blankets that have been sewn, knitted, crocheted, fleece tied, or quilted for children in need.
For those interested in tutoring, Right Here At Home volunteers provide practical financial education and technology training to individuals in poverty in the US. Also, UPchieve provides tutoring services to low-income high school students in the US.
For those who excel at networking, Relay For Life of Second Life through the American Cancer Society is a community event in which virtual volunteers do many of the same things they’d do at a live Relay event such as walk 3D world laps, light virtual Luminara, and make donations. #SavetheFrontline is also a great organization concerned with providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers in New York City and Long Island, especially those in public hospitals and those working in underserved communities.
There are plenty of ways to help others during the current pandemic. As there are so many virtual volunteer opportunities available, donating your time in whatever capacity you can will help many through this incredibly tough period that we’re all facing.