Everyone goes through tough times, and taking care of each other is part of what it means to be an American. This year, holiday volunteering is a little trickier than usual. With COVID-19 cases rising nationwide, many in-person volunteering opportunities have been adapted or put on hold. That said, the need for generosity and support is higher this year than it has been in decades.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help without leaving the house, and others that are simple and low-risk. These are a few of the safest, most impactful options to lend a helping hand in 2020.
1. Donate to Toys for Tots
Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, there are more families facing financial hardship than ever. This loss is felt more keenly than usual around the holidays, so Toys for Tots steps in to help. The charity has donated 584 million toys to date, and donating this year is easier than ever. Through their virtual donation page, you can donate a toy in just a few clicks.
2. Donate blood
While this one isn’t virtual and may not be recommended for those at high risk, donating blood is a way to give back that’s truly lifesaving. There’s always a need, and it takes less than an hour at a Red Cross blood drive location near you. If you’ve already had COVID and have since fully recovered, you can also donate plasma to help other patients get fight the illness.
3. Donate supplies to shelters
Shelters aren’t immune to the pandemic, nor the annual cold and flu season. Donating supplies is a low-risk way to help the homeless this Christmas. Frequently needed supplies include:
- PPEs- Gloves, surgical masks, and goggles,
- Cleaning supplies and garbage bags
- Fever-reducing OTC medications like Tylenol
- Linens- Towels, sheets, blankets, etc
- Foods and hydrating fluids- Instant soups, teas, Pedialyte, Jell-O
Contact shelters in your area to review current donation policies and check which items they need the most.
4. Deliver food to seniors
While volunteering in senior centers is limited in most areas, you can still help by bringing older folks hot meals! Meals on Wheels delivers food to both seniors living on their own and those living in centers to help them maintain their independence and reduce their risk of injury or illnesss.
Since the elderly are at higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19, less trips to the grocery store mean fewer changes to get sick. You can help either by volunteering to deliver meals, or by donating to help support the program.
5. Volunteer virtually
If you prefer adding a more personal connection to your charity efforts, virtual volunteer options are a great option. If you have skills that can be offered virtually, consider donating your services. Offer virtual tutoring, music lessons, therapy, or any other special skills you’d like to share! Volunteer Match can help match you with opportunities that are good fit.
Even if you don’t have any virtual services to offer, you can help by volunteering for support call centers. Soldiers’ Angels has countless ways that families can give back to the military community all year round.
6. Adopt a family
Perhaps the most personal way to help this Christmas is by “adopting” a family. You connect with a family in need, preferably with children close in age to your own, find out what they’d like for Christmas, and make their holiday dreams come true. To get paired with a family, contact your local branch of the YMCA or Salvation Army.