You might have made a resolution for 2021 to give back to your community, help those who are less fortunate, or to support a worthy cause. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that our community can take a turn for the worse in just a matter of months, and isolation/disconnection can have adverse effects on our psyches. As someone who actively supports multiple charities and acts philanthropically year-round, I believe that everyone can make a difference, no matter the size of their donation or effort.
Dog Walking for a Rescue Organization
Many people unfortunately lost their homes during the pandemic due to the financial effects of stay-at-home orders, causing dogs to be turned over to shelters and, sadly, separated from their families. If you are an animal lover who can volunteer your time, volunteer as a dog walker at your local rescue organization. Not only will this help the shelter and make a dog’s day, it also brightens your mood and gives you the opportunity to build some exercise into your day. Volunteering with animals can be a truly rewarding experience.
Become a Virtual Mentor
Now more than ever, children, teens, and young adults need guidance and someone to talk to. Being stuck at home all day and not seeing their friends as often as they were used to has had a major effect on their mental health and well-being. Charities such as the National Mentoring Resource Center connect you with young people from a variety of backgrounds (youth of color, LGBTQI, children of incarcerated parents, indigenous, immigrants and refugees) to lead group activities and one-on-one mentoring sessions via Zoom. This kind of volunteer work can have a major beneficial impact on you as a mentor and for the person you mentor.
Helping Local Food Banks
Another devastating side-effect of COVID-19 is the dramatic increase in how many people and families are dependent on food banks to feed themselves and their loved ones. With these increased demands, your local food bank needs all the help it can get. Even if you can only spare several hours each week, you can donate your time and talents to help pack food, arrange work areas, or deliver food. Perhaps you could organize a fundraising opportunity. Food banks are able to buy in bulk and receive charity discounts and buy exactly what they know is needed rather than having to sort through the (still welcome) food donations. Point out to your potential donors that the gift is tax-deductible.
Shop for Care Home Residents
Standing in a long line at the grocery store was not previously a danger to someone’s health. However, with the pandemic still evolving, many people cannot go shopping or do other errands because of their underlying health issues. This is a great time to volunteer at a care home to shop for groceries, pick prescriptions up, or mail packages or cards for residents. Keeping in touch with seniors you know (a former neighbor, family friend or a relative) in a care home can significantly increase their mental stability and sense of well-being. If they are not particularly tech-savvy—so, Facetime, Zoom, or Skype aren’t options—pick up the telephone and say hello. You’ll make their day!