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What You Can Do Right Now: Volunteering During COVID-19

Last Friday I had the opportunity to spend the morning volunteering with the Lucky Duck Foundation with another group on campus, Doctors without Borders (for more information about this crew, here is their IG: @msfsdsusupporters. This is just one of the many cool things they have done this semester). I was honestly very overwhelmed on my drive over, so much so I got lost three separate times trying to find parking in the industrial area in Miramar. In my defense- I woke up late, so I had to sacrifice coffee in favor of being on time.

I had a chemistry test and what seemed like a million other things on my to-do list for the rest of the day that had me totally preoccupied as I put on my nitrile gloves and waited for the volunteer coordinator to tell us what needed to get done. However, the hour and a half I spent with other people in the club and local community members organizing and loading supplies that would go on to be distributed to displaced communities in San Diego made me forget about anything else I was stressed about. I lost myself in the work and spent time with individuals who care about the same things I do: people, equity, and community.

For the months we have been in this pandemic, I have been overwhelmed thinking about grades, classes, and how I am supposed to build a resume for professional school when I can’t do as many things in-person. If I am being totally honest, I arrived at Lucky Duck looking for a point for a club, but I drove away reminded of why I love community- especially the diverse, dynamic one we have here in San Diego. It reminded me of why I am taking these classes and why I want to do what I want to do. It reminded me that for all my problems in this world, I have never once had to worry about where my next meal was going to come from, and there are many individuals in San Diego who through life circumstances can't say the same.

Although it is understandable to avoid in-person events due to your own health or the health of a family member, there are still several virtual opportunities that have been created to help people that could really use it. For this reason, I have compiled a list of four online resources that can guide you to ways to connect with your community through volunteer opportunities and remind you that despite having to keep our distance, our lives are still as interconnected as ever.

1. HandsOn San Diego

  • Database for in-person/virtual volunteer opportunities around San Diego in the form of a calendar

  • Easy to navigate and sign up for any opportunity you would like to partake in as a solo volunteer or as a group

2. San Diego Center for Children

  • The oldest nonprofit for children in our region (founded in 1887!) that has moved most of its volunteering to a virtual setting due to the pandemic

  • A great option for those interested in working with an organization for children but are worried about personal/familial health issues

  • Examples of opportunities provided on the website:

    • Meals for essential workers

    • PPE for youth and staff

    • Virtual Toy Drive

3. San Diego Blood Bank

  • Volunteer Opportunities at the San Diego Blood Bank include:

    • Blood Mobile Greeter

    • Blood Donor Advocate

    • Office Administration/Special Projects

  • The site will link you to a third party volunteer portal where you can fill out your application and get started

4. Crisis Text Hotline

  • Become a Volunteer at the Crisis Text Hotline if you are interested in:

    • Answering texts from people in crisis and bringing them from a hot moment to a cool calm through:

      • Active listening

      • Collaborative problem solving

      • Safety planning

  • Crisis hotline will train you for free and in return requires a 200-hour commitment

  • Great opportunity if you are interested in counseling, like to work at night, or need a volunteering opportunity that does not require you to leave home to make a big impact

As the weather grows colder and we drag ourselves through finals, it can be easy to lose sight of the things that make life warm- people, compassion, and community. However, even if it is just spending an hour boxing meals or operating a virtual hotline, opportunities like these can allow you to network with like-minded individuals, explore the world of nonprofits, and to put good energy into a world that could really use it right now.

Hope everyone is staying safe and happy as we head into the holiday season. Fun fact, I am a barista at Starbucks and very highly recommend the chestnut praline latte if you ever need to grab some warm caffeine before an early event. That probably could have helped me find parking a little sooner that morning hehe.

Wishing you and yours a healthy, safe December

Hannah <3

P.S. Hope your next final has you feeling like Ron Swanson in his red shirt :-)

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