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How and Where to Volunteer During the Coronavirus Pandemic

How and Where to Volunteer During the Coronavirus Pandemic

With minimal effort, you can help others in need due to coronavirus—while lifting your own spirits, too.


It’s easy to feel powerless during this strange time. Between homeschooling and working from home, not to mention cleaning, cooking, and trying to relieve stress, you probably feel like your days are pretty packed. Volunteering to help pandemic victims might seem aspirational—but it’s actually quite easy. As little as a few hours a week would not only lighten the load of those suffering during this crisis, but likely lift your sprits as well. Here are a few of the many great volunteer opportunities in New York—including those you can do from home.  

How to Start Volunteering

These sites and organizations have set up general databases to connect you with volunteer openings. 

Catch A Fire matches people with remote volunteer work for non-profits based on their skills. You can also consult NYC United Against Coronavirus, a constantly-updated Google doc filled with useful links to various aid efforts around the city.

NYC's Department of Health has set up a special website with ideas for how you can help essential workers and first responders. They are accepting donations of essential goods, services, and spaces here.

Want to help with the vaccine research? Keep an eye out for human “challenge studies” enrolling healthy young people (without preexisting conditions) to be exposed to coronavirus and test vaccines. 

Finally, many businesses need your help in the form of donations, especially local food banks, hunger organizations and restaurant workers relief funds. Another easy way you can help is to continue patronizing the individual indie businesses that are a regular part of your life—take advantage of delivery and takeout services and consider buying gift cards or prepaying where you can.

How to Help Vulnerable Citizens 

The following organizations help deliver supplies and companionship to vulnerable citizens who can't leave their homes at all:

Invisible Hands needs volunteers to deliver groceries to the elderly, as do more locally-based variations like Bushwick Mutual Aid and Queens Mutual Aid. If you have a bike, Corona Couriers is looking for you to deliver groceries in all boroughs except Staten Island. Those interested should call or text (929) 320-0660, or email coronacourier@protonmail.com.

For those up for reaching out on their own, check out the Nextdoor app (a cross between Facebook and Craig’s List) where neighbors near you post when they need food or medicine pickups. There’s also a map in which neighbors can add their location and volunteering abilities.

How to Help the Homeless

Without stable or safe environments, nor the means to procure masks and other PPE, the homeless are one of the most vulnerable right now. 

The National Coalition for the Homeless provides a directory of local homeless shelters where you can volunteer. There are also volunteer opportunities at the following organizations that offer food, mental support and other services to the homeless: the Bowery Missionthe Ali Forney CenterThe Salvation ArmyPartnership for the Homeless, and Housing Works.



How to Help From Home

For those who don’t want to or can't break their quarantine, there are plenty of options to volunteer from home. 

The NYC-based organization DOROT connects people with the elderly to talk to on the phone or over video chat. Similarly, Alone is an organization that helps the elderly feel less lonely—telephone volunteers call and check in on them at least two hours each week. And Heights and Hills is soliciting volunteers to check in on isolated seniors in Brooklyn via phone. 

Be My Eyes app pairs the blind and visually impaired with volunteers via a video call in order to assist with everyday tasks (think reading a recipe on the back of a box). 

If you’re feeling steady on the mental health front, donate your time to a crisis textline or hotline where you can help people struggling with issues like domestic violencechild abusesuicidal ideation or other crisis that have become worse during the pandemic. 

How to Donate Blood During Coronavirus

Whether or not you’ve had the Coronavirus, your blood can help others recover from Covid19, as well as other injuries and disorders.

The New York Blood Center needs blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, and is partnering with Mt. Sinai Health System to transfer that blood to patients still fighting the virus. The procedure has shown that patients who've received a transfusion saw their health improve. If you’ve had the virus, find out where to give blood.

If you’re healthy, the American Red Cross encourages you to schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment at redcrossblood.org to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and avoid any potential shortages. 

Volunteer Your Skills

Specific abilities are needed all over New York—from coding and research to tutoring 

If you can program, help Code for America’s volunteer “brigades” make technology accessible and safe for local communities. 80,000 Hours is looking for skilled researchers interested in helping to fight the pandemic: Their database of career and volunteering opportunities has a diverse range of options.

Now that schools are closed, students need tutors and mentors. If that sounds like something you have the skill set for, you can volunteer through iCouldBe, a student mentorship program.

 

 

 

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Shana Liebman

Author:

Shana Liebman is the features editor of NYMP. She’s a writer and editor who has worked for magazines including New York MagazineSalon, and Travel & Leisure—and she is the mom of two energetic little boys.

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