Right now, you and your family are on your own little Gilligan’s Island. It was supposed to be a three-hour tour, but thanks to COVID-19, you and your crew will be stranded for at least a few more weeks. Just like the merry castaways, you are probably feeling pretty isolated and disconnected from the rest of the world.
While physical distancing is ultimately what’s going to get us out of this jam, staying civically connected is what will see us through it. People still very much need to make meaningful connections with one another, but fulfilling that need may look a little different for a while.
This crisis presents a great opportunity to teach our kiddos the importance of lending a hand whenever and however we can—but how do you teach that lesson when you are supposed to be keeping your hands to yourself? That’s where virtual volunteering comes into play, allowing you and your family to give back from the comfort and safety of your own home.
“There are many opportunities for families who want to volunteer together,” says Darcy Hughes, communications coordinator for VolunteerMatch. “Activities like sending cards and letters to an elderly (care) facility or creating COVID care packages that follow CDC regulations.”
Since 1998, VolunteerMatch has facilitated millions of introductions between volunteers and nonprofits to match them with special projects, geographic locations, and mission-related initiatives.
“Right now, there are over 600,000 virtual volunteering opportunities available on VolunteerMatch,” Hughes says.
Here are a few of our favourites—but there are plenty more to choose from.
Write letters to seniors in isolation
East Side Elders has created an easy way for volunteers to write letters to seniors at the care facility in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Write your letter using their online form, and the staff will print it out and deliver it to a resident in need of a connection.
If you’d like to send your notes closer to home, contact a local nursing home for information and protocols for sending handwritten notes and homemade pictures or cards from the kids.
Walk your own dog
You can take a stroll around your neighbourhood—or even your living room—and raise money for our four-legged friends at Ruff House Rescue while you do it. The mobile app Wooftrax allows shelters and animal rescues to fundraise simply by encouraging owners to take the family dog on a walk.
The more you move, the more money will be donated. This is a great way to keep the kids physically active and limit screentime while their schools are closed. And again, you can check with your local animal shelter to see if they have a similar program in place before you start walking.
Perform in a virtual concert
The Foundation is calling for musicians young and old—regardless of talent or preferred instrument—to be a part of their Coronavirus Relief Breakout Concert Series. Shine like the star you are and help provide musical entertainment to help people during this rough time. Let your kid bust out that trumpet and join the band.
Get crafty for the cause
Here’s a chance to bust out the sewing machine and put your family’s creative skills to use for a vital cause: The Good Shepherds Foundation, a youth-led, not-for-profit organisation, is hosting a face mask drive to benefit area hospitals and medicals centres in New Hampshire currently experiencing a face mask shortage. This is your chance to help those on the front lines while simultaneously getting your family’s creative synapses firing.
Volunteering is a family friendly activity that never goes out of season. It teaches the importance of kindness, empathy and perspective—skills that will still be invaluable once we finally get off our islands. In the meantime, your efforts will be far more helpful to others than fashioning a coconut into a radio.
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