In these past few months, it can be hard to feel like we are being productive or making an impact on the world. With limited opportunities, our days can easily fill up with meeting deadlines for online school and scrolling through TikTok or binge-watching Netflix. These activities can be entertaining for a few days, but then a feeling of emptiness and lack of fulfillment forms. These emotions can severely impact our mental health. One way I have combatted this is by continuing to participate in community service. Multiple studies show that volunteering has both positive short-term and long-term effects on our wellbeing. While most in-person volunteer opportunities have been suspended, here are four ways you can still serve your community while in quarantine:
- Make An Advocacy Page On Social Media
Think about and reflect on a cause you are passionate about. Whether it is advocating for awareness of a condition or supporting a group that needs a voice, everyone can find a charity/organization that speaks to them. I am absolutely in love with helping shelter animals and advocating to break the stigma against them. Before the pandemic, I used to volunteer at animal shelters. Now, most opportunities have been suspended. However, I have not let this stop me. I recently created an advocacy page for shelter animals on Instagram. By posting facts, spotlights, and stories on social media, I am able to remain connected to a cause I am passionate about. We are already on social media daily, so why not create content that truly makes a difference? There is so much creativity with this type of service, as you get to choose your preferred platform and types of posts. This project can easily work into your weekly or daily schedule, and serve as an outlet for giving back.
Project Tip: Create a posting schedule that you can remain committed to. Creating these types of commitments will increase your engagement with your project, and allow it to have a larger effect on both yourself and others.
- Make Goodie Bags For A Local Organization
While organizations limit the number of volunteers on their sites, they are still in need of community support and donations. Establishments such as the Ronald McDonald House are currently accepting donations and care packages for the people they serve. Making goodie bags is so exciting because you can handpick presents and think about how you are going to make someone’s day. This can require spending money, but stores such as Five Below and Dollar Tree have adorable gifts and supplies at reasonable prices that fit our college student budget. To limit expenses, you can also fundraise and collect donations. Facebook has an easy virtual fundraising option that can be posted to your wall and shared. Contact a local charity and ask if they are in need of any care packages or goodies. It is especially fun to do this now as stores are stocking their shelves with holiday themed items!
Project Tip: Think about what age range you want to make bags for. By having an age group in mind, it is easier to browse stores and pick out presents. Also, ask your contact person for a list of requested items to help with your experience.
- Write Thank You Letters To Veterans Or Healthcare Workers
Community service does not have to be a grand project. Even making just one person smile makes a difference. Writing letters to veterans or your local heroes, like healthcare workers, is an easy way to make someone’s day. Bust out some paper and art supplies and make thank you cards! Making cards are an easy way to remind people that they are appreciated by their community. Sometimes the most simple gestures bring the biggest smiles.
Project Tip: Ask your friends and family members to join you with this project (over Zoom, of course)! It is a great bonding experience and creates even more letters for delivery. The more cards, the better!
- Clean Out Your Closet And Donate Clothes To An Organization In Need
You have probably already started to clean out your house within the last few months. Rather than throwing items and clothes away, you can donate them to an organization such as a homeless shelter. You can also donate old towels and blankets to animal shelters. Most organizations have trucks that can pick up donations right from your doorstep, so you don’t have to travel and can stay safe.
Project Tip: Take your time! Cleaning out anything can quickly become overwhelming. It is okay if this project takes a few days or even a few weeks. The whole point of these projects is to not only help people around you, but also is to make you feel good. Don’t stress yourself out!
Just because we are in quarantine does not mean we cannot make a difference. Now more than ever, we need to remind each other that we care for one another. Actions can speak louder than words. In your next block of free time, consider thinking of a catchy name for a social media page or research local organizations in need of support. Remember, just one action can make a world of difference.