Making a difference: How you can give back during the holiday season despite COVID

Volunteers+are+always+needed+to+help+families+in+need+receive+the+food%2C+shelter+and+support+they+need.

Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Volunteers are always needed to help families in need receive the food, shelter and support they need.

Azzy Brown, Copy Editor

The holiday season is a beautiful time when many of us think about how we can give back and spread joy. It is imperative that this year be no exception. The pandemic has caused many people around the world to lose their jobs, houses and even lives.

However, in-person volunteering comes with many challenges as it often does not comply with social-distancing guidelines. Additionally, because of the impact of the pandemic, many people do not have money to spare to donate financially.

Do not worry, though – while monetary donations are beneficial, there are still other options to give back, whether it be donating clothes, blood, food, personal protective equipment (PPE), hard-to-find-supplies or computers.

Your personal skills are needed too. From sewing and web design to legal aid and financial services, your talents are priceless and can help improve the state of the world.

Chrissy Johnson put her skills to the test and hand-sewed masks over quarantine. “There were a lot of stories in the news about helping frontline workers by making and donating masks and I just thought that was something I could do,” she stated. “I like to sew a little and the hospital provided a really simple pattern to use. I’m not an essential worker, so it felt great to do something to help out. My daughter, Maya, ended up making them, too.”

Donations also include services. Because of the pandemic, many people have felt anxious or dejected. Mental health helplines like Crisis Text Line have gracious volunteers who answer texts from people in crisis. Research shows that helping relieve someone else’s concerns may help you feel less alone and lower your own stress levels too.

In fact, new research in the Journal of Happiness Studies suggests that at times when some 33 percent of Americans are experiencing symptoms of pandemic-related anxiety or depression, that intrinsic reward or “warm glow” feeling provides both a buffer and a sense of control.

Junior Colin Meyer was able to volunteer in-person and was very happy he was able to make an impact. “Finding places to volunteer this year due to COVID was a little difficult, however I was able to find some time at church. Being back at church with a mask felt no different than any other year. We were still able to be there with each other safely, while still making a difference!” he noted.

Additionally, volunteering is likely to help boost one’s sense of social connection, particularly for older adults who may be feeling isolated. Researchers have found that people who volunteer lead longer, healthier and happier lives. Volunteerism correlates positively to stronger self-confidence, better quality of friendships and improved job prospects.

Dr. George James, a licensed marriage and family therapist and chief innovation officer at the Council for Relationships, a nonprofit behavioral health organization in Philadelphia, noted the benefits of volunteering. “It gives people a sense of purpose, feeling that even though in these difficult times, there’s something I can do about it, that I have some sense of, some feeling of control, even when everything else feels out of control,” he remarked.

It is easy to feel powerless in the face of the pandemic, but there are so many ways you can make a difference. With the onset of COVID-19, volunteering and donations of any sort are helpful for you and the cause, and will help spread holiday cheer this season.