Itching to go out there, fight for a good cause, and make a difference?
Unfortunately, COVID-19’s made that pretty much impossible for us regular citizens and non-frontliners. After all, they say the best thing we can do to help with this pandemic is to stop the spread and stay home.
That’s fine (said every introvert ever).
But with all the chaos that’s happening all over the world, I’m sure we can do more than just barricade ourselves indoors. And a lot of charities and not-for-profit (NFP) organizations agree.
That’s why they’ve made it possible for us to help the community and support them while staying at home.
Check these out.
1. Create Handmade Crafts for Hospitals
Making handmade crafts usually requires time and patience. Thanks to this pandemic, a lot of us now have a crazy amount of the former and are (begrudgingly) learning the latter.
If you’ve been itching for a project to keep your mind focused and your hands busy, why not start crafting? Believe it or not, your handmade crafts can actually help a ton of people.
Take protective facemasks, for example.
There will always be a decent demand for them, and no organization is going to turn away free facemasks that work. If you need help getting started, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an excellent guide to making sewn and non-sewn masks: materials needed, step-by-step instructions, traceable templates—the whole nine yards.
Another example? Blankets.
Who doesn’t need a bit of snuggly warmth when the temperature dips down? Craft some cosiness for a cause by making a blanket for organizations like Fleece & Thank You, Cuddles, and other nonprofits that donate blankets and beanies for premature babies.
You can also contact your local hospital for more info.
2. Knit Red Cross Trauma Teddies
Once you’re done with the facemasks, beanies, and blankets, why not move on to something a little more complicated (but no less cute)?
Did you know that the Australian Red Cross has been running a Trauma Teddy Program since 1990?
They literally give tiny teddy bears to children who are experiencing trauma, illness, or all forms of distress as a way to comfort them and take their minds off their situation. In 2018 alone, more than 50,000 Trauma Teddies were donated to children across the country.
Trauma Teddy is cute, cuddly, and can make an incredible difference in a child’s life.
There are currently 600 or so volunteer knitters. Why not add your name to that list? You can find the patterns—and more information about the program—right here.
3. Support Local Businesses
I’ve never really needed an excuse to online shop, but the COVID-19 pandemic has somehow turned this guilty pleasure of mine into a necessity.
If you share the same sentiments (and you have the means to continue doing so at this time) why not support some local entrepreneurs?
Given the current health crisis we’re facing, a lot of local business owners have moved their operations online. Supporting these local businesses is a great way to keep them running and so that they, in turn, provide items and livelihood for the community.
It’s totally a win-win situation for everyone involved.
And even if you can’t buy their products, you can still spread the word. I’m certain sharing their website, catalogue, and/or social profiles with your friends and colleagues would be very much appreciated.
4. Become a Virtual Volunteer for the UN
Online volunteering is fast, easy, and has proven—time and again—to be extremely effective. Never underestimate the raw force that is a huge group of dedicated, passionate individuals.
The UN knows this well. After all, they’ve been running their online United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme for a while now, and it’s definitely generated results.
Every year, more than 12,000 selfless volunteers (from 187 different countries, give or take a few) help further the UN’s vision of a peaceful and unified global movement.
The cool part is that they get to do it from the safety of their own home. They write, edit, design, research, advocate, and virtually plan events to help the UN spread peace and development worldwide.
They currently have several on-going virtual projects specifically addressing COVID-19. You can find more details, as well as the full list of volunteer work, here.
5. Become a Translator Without Borders
Translators Without Borders is an incredible non-profit organization built on a pretty sweet (and pretty unique) concept. It basically lets you flex your bilingual—or multilingual—skills for a good cause.
Volunteers under TWB translate hundreds of important documents, like medical texts and crisis responses, for charities, government hospitals, and NFPs.
Yes, they’re a nonprofit organization that helps other nonprofit organizations. If that doesn’t get you to sign up, maybe reading their mission-vision spiel will.
6. Host a Virtual Class on Facebook
You don’t have to be an instructor on Skillshare or Udemy to spread your God-given-slash-self-driven talent. If you have a skill that translates well online—writing, drawing, graphic design, handcrafting, cooking and/or baking—why not host a virtual class for it via Facebook live?
Aside from keeping people socially active, it’ll also help you hone your craft as you give back to the community.
7. Scan Books for Kids With Reading Barriers
BookShare is another lesser-known but no-less-cool NFP that addresses a very specific problem; reading barriers.
Their e-book library contains hundreds of thousands of titles that can be enjoyed by people that are dyslexic, visually impaired, physically incapacitated and have other learning disabilities.
BookShare’s ultimate goal is to create a personalized reading experience for people with reading barriers by providing access to e-books that they can read their way.
As a self-proclaimed bookworm, that mission sounds pretty great to me.
If you’re on the same boat, consider volunteering for BookShare. They’re always looking for virtual volunteers to help scan books, proofread transcripts, describe images, and other related tasks.
(And if those tasks aren’t very appealing, you can always donate).
8. Be Someone’s Eyes
Another great concept executed beautifully. The Be My Eyes app is an app that blind and low-vision people can use to connect with sighted volunteers via live video call.
Once the connection is set-up, the sighted volunteer can then help the Be My Eyes user by literally being their eyes.
Say the person wants to know if the milk is off. Since the expiration dates on milk cartons aren’t stamped in braille (but how cool would it be if a manufacturing company started doing that?), they would connect to a volunteer via the app, turn on their video, and ask them to please read the expiration date for them.
It’s incredibly easy for both parties involved. It’s also an excellent way to make life a little easier for the vision impaired.
9. Offer Free Freelance Work for a Charity or NFP
So this is sort of a catch-all suggestion that is pretty much in the same vein as items 4, 5, and 7 (although those were more specific).
If you’re a freelancer (or a generally talented person) in the digital content field—photo/video editing, graphic design, content writing, etc. – you could offer your services to a charity or non-profit organization that you already support.
Trust me; something as simple as editing a promotional video for them or writing their monthly newsletter would be greatly appreciated.
Plus; that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you know you’ve made a difference?
That’s pretty much its own reward.
Hop onto an online job board, do a quick Google search, or email the organization directly. No one will ever say no to free help.
At the end of the day, if you just don’t have the time to actively volunteer for a charity or NFP, you can always donate. Seriously; it’s one of the easiest ways to support a good cause, it probably takes less than two minutes, and you can do it from home.
Just a couple of clicks and, boom. You’ve helped a ton of people out.
Non-profit organizations thrive on the generous donations of thousands of people who just want to help. If you’re one of them, mad respect. Your dollars make a huge difference, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Not sure who to donate to? Foodbank Australia accepts both food and monetary donations. The World Health Organization (WHO) has an on-going COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. So does the Australian Red Cross.
Wrapping up this article on a slightly sappy note, let me thank you for doing your part. Volunteering (slash donating) is a completely selfless act that not a lot of people even think of doing, and God knows we need a lot of selfless acts right now. So, thanks for reading, stay home and stay safe.