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If you’re like me, you’ve probably already binge-watched Bridgerton twice and are scanning Netflix to find your next escape from reality. I get it — what else is there to do for fun in our challenging pandemic world? But sometimes, binging TV shows and scrolling on TikTok for countless hours just doesn’t bring that satisfaction you’re looking for. One of my favorite pre-COVID hobbies, something that made me feel like I was actually doing something good for myself and for others, was community service. It’s hard to beat the feeling of knowing I’ve helped someone, changed the course of their day by doing something small like giving someone a compliment or paying for the car behind me in a drive-thru. COVID-19 has changed the ways in which we can volunteer in our communities, but it has also increased the need for volunteers. People are suffering all around us and we don’t have any excuses not to be doing something to help. There are so many easy ways we can perform service from the comfort of our homes; here are a few of my favorites.

Be My Eyes App 

This is hands-down one of my favorite examples of service from home! The Be My Eyes app connects sighted volunteers with blind or low-vision users who could benefit from help. If you are a sighted individual, simply sign up as a volunteer, and those in need of your eyes can video call you for help with basic tasks such as checking expiration dates on food, reading instructions/mail, or just navigating new surroundings. Those calling you for help will not have access to your number but will be randomly assigned a person to call through the app, so it is 100% safe. This is such an easy and kind way of helping those around you, and it is a great way to meet new people! 

Support Local Businesses 

Another great act of service you can be doing in your community is ordering takeout from a local restaurant instead of that quick fast-food grab! Supporting small businesses is a great way to help people struggling financially stay afloat during the pandemic. You can make it fun by regularly trying out a new place with friends and family. Next time you’re thinking of getting food on the go, try out a local restaurant. Who knows, it may become your new favorite!

Write Letters to Patients in a Children’s Hospital 

This one hits close to home and is such an easy way to do something kind for children who are sick in the hospital. Making birthday cards or holiday cards is easy, cheap, and relaxing, and will no doubt make someone’s day. You can create your own handmade cards or you can visit this website and create a greeting card online! Make it a group effort and get your family and friends involved so that more kids receive cards and empowering messages!

Check Up on Friends and Family 

I think the greatest act of service in times like these is being a good friend. The effects of COVID-19 have left many people feeling lonely and depressed due to the lack of interaction they have with people outside of their household. Remember that people may not have the same support systems as you do and a simple message checking up on an old friend or a loved one can really change the course of their day. Talk to the people around you about the stresses they may be facing, plan a virtual FaceTime call, or even a watch a movie together on Netflix Party. There are so many easy ways to connect with the people around you, and the results of putting in a small amount of effort can be truly substantial. 

These are challenging times for all of us. But if this last year has taught us anything, it’s that we’re capable of finding connection and inspiration no matter what life throws at us. I hope these ideas bring you closer to your community, and thanks for being a part of ours!

Sakina is currently double majoring in International Studies and Health & Kinesiology. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, night drives with good music, and playing with her preschool class!
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