Nonprofits and community organizations rely heavily on the kindness of volunteers who give their time and talents to serve their constituents. While COVID-19 has made it more challenging to find opportunities to help while heeding public safety guidelines, it hasn’t made it impossible to get involved. Check out these five ideas for making an impact on the local community.#1 Support Democracy
North Carolina’s State Board of Elections is in search of volunteers to work the polling locations for both early voting and on Election Day. In response to COVID, the Board will be providing appropriate protective equipment for volunteers, including where applicable masks, gloves, face protection, and cleaning supplies; and social distancing guidelines will be in place at all polling places this year.#2 Lend Support Virtually
Even if you can’t volunteer in-person, there are ample opportunities to lend a helping hand from home using your internet connection and a computer. From grant writing to technical support to tutoring, check out the wide variety of virtual volunteer opportunities to benefit nonprofits in Chapel Hill on VolunteerMatch. For organizations making an impact beyond North Carolina, check out these nine nationally renowned nonprofits who could benefit from your services.#3 Use a Milestone to Help Others
If you have a birthday, anniversary or other milestone to celebrate, in lieu of a party with a crowd of people, consider using the event to raise funds for a special cause. Fundraising platforms, like GoFundMe, make it easy to set up your funding drive and for friends and family to give. Whether you want to raise money to buy computer equipment for a local school or help a family cover medical expenses, choose a cause that is near and dear to your heart and invite your network to participate.#4 Encourage Giving
The Inter-Faith Council in Chapel Hill stocks a food pantry to combat food insecurity amongst our neighbors. They are always looking for donations of canned fruits, vegetables and meats, cereal, and instant meal items like rice and pasta, plus personal care items like soap and toilet paper. Create a food drive for your neighborhood and get the word out through a listserv or community website. Ask neighbors to leave a bag of items they would like to donate and collect them from their porches on a selected date to take to the IFC. Your contributions will help the nonprofit provide families with more than 13,000 much-needed bags of groceries each year.#5 Cheer Up Senior Citizens
Many nursing homes have had to restrict guests from visiting their facilities to protect their vulnerable residents—leaving many seniors feeling isolated and lonely. To brighten their day, contact a local senior care center and ask if any of their residents would like a pen pal. This idea is perfect for those who prefer pen and paper to online activities.
Despite ongoing precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are still creative ways to engage with the community within your comfort zone. Thanks to everyone who is using this time to be of service to our community and making a difference.