[STAFF EDITORIAL] Volunteers needed now more than ever


Mimi Huelster

Volunteering offers support for the high number of people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, while also providing a way to make change for students.

It may be difficult to remember the value in service during long days of hybrid class and social distancing, but the fact of the matter is that there is much that needs to be done. The presence of COVID-19 in everyone’s lives is widespread and varies greatly depending on each individual. Many once secure aspects of life are vanishing as the economy struggles to recover. The problems may be new or a result of COVID-19 but for that reason volunteering is more important now than ever before.

Choose a passion project

Service is far too often categorized in a form of volunteering through a group or organization but it can be much simpler than that. At-home volunteering is becoming more common and there are plenty of ideas to try. Whether calling a grandparent or homebound loved one to check-in or tutoring a younger student who is struggling with online learning, simple actions can make a big difference.
At-home volunteering extends beyond close relatives and friends; spend some free time trying to help out in the broader community. Collect essentials like warm socks, water, protein bars, and nail clippers for care bags to give homeless people. There are many non-profit organizations that deliver groceries to at-risk or otherwise unable people. Help at your door is one of these non-profits and it seeks to deliver groceries to those who can not go to the store themselves throughout the metro area. Even writing cards to senior citizens can make someone’s day and proves that service can be self-directed and small scale.

Seniors last year started their end of the year projects as COVID-19 was starting to hit the United States. This didn’t stop them from reaching their service requirements for the project and they found creative ways to work around COVID limitations in order to do so. The solutions to finding ways around limitations varied and were usually handled on a case-to-case basis. With service being such an integral value in our community last year’s seniors were able to continue that tradition through restrictions and limitations and now they have passed it on to the grades below.

Support a peer’s passion project

Service opportunities can also support those in need by supporting movements started by peers. Isabelle Wolpert, for example, has co-founded a non-profit organization called Musicians for Equality with the intent of “advocating for equality and equity in the music industry and across the globe.” The organization’s Instagram posts a tribute in order to feature a BIPOC/female/LGBTQIA+ musician and the organization’s gofundme.com campaign has raised over $3,000 to benefit Walker West Music Academy. The non-profit is able to continue advocating and raising awareness regardless of COVID-19 and has been successful in doing so.

Nikolas Liepins founded Bee Kind MN years ago, but a visit to the site will show volunteers how to make a bee house at home and register it to help keep the environment healthy. Sometimes the best way to support a broader cause is by supporting your peers and finding time to volunteer in this way can strengthen the community and help with large scale problems as well.

Get civically engaged

With an election coming up, casting a ballot this fall comes a challenge. For people that don’t want to mail in their vote volunteers pick up ballots and bring them to drop in voting centers. If someone is willing to vote in person but is unable to get to a voting center, volunteer drivers can pick up and drop off. Giving someone an opportunity to vote in the election when they otherwise would not can remind those people that even when they are at home they are still a valued member of the nation.

Go national or global virtually

National Service organizations are trying to redefine how people can volunteer during a time when group events aren’t possible, American Red Cross has set up an opportunity for students to become digital advocates from home while still providing assistance for COVID-19 relief. Other forms of virtual volunteering have been popping up as well, Race Roster’s Run For All offered people the opportunity to set an ambitious running goal for the weekend and donate a dollar per mile. All of these proceeds went to supporting Minnesota frontline workers and proved that donating can involve bettering yourself as well as the community.

Tutoring younger students, creating and donating to organizations that support something you care about, delivering groceries for someone who can’t pick up their own, and volunteering to work as a digital advocate are just a few ways to help out. Find something you’re passionate about and spend some time figuring out what you can do. With uncertainty becoming the only secure thing about life it has never been more important to help others and change the world.