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  • stefana sardo

Volunteering Opportunities During COVID-19

Updated: May 5, 2020


Photo courtesy of Ivy Lumpkin


Amid the coronavirus pandemic, people are unselfishly helping others. From purchasing and delivering groceries for neighbors, to making masks from scrap fabrics found around the house and donating to people and organizations in need. There are countless ways to serve-and safely-outside virtual or by remote engagement.

You can ‘google’ volunteer opportunities for a massive and perhaps overwhelming number of articles and links. To save you the time, I looked through numerous articles and links-and learned that there is considerable overlap, a good thing-and copied and pasted some local and national level volunteer opportunities during COVID-19:

National perspective: generously provided by The Corporation for National and Community Service, https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve


1. Donate to Nonprofits Cash donations are the best way to support the nonprofit of your choice. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) has a list of organizations supporting COVID-19 response efforts. Guidestar and Great Nonprofits also have search engines to locate organizations that need help.

2. Donate or Volunteer Safely with Food Banks and Pantries Donate to food banks and pantries to help them stock up or volunteer at a food bank that needs help packing and sorting food using safe practices. Visit Feeding America or Food Pantries to find an organization near you.

3. Deliver Meals and Groceries to Vulnerable Seniors Help out someone you know or contact your local Meals on Wheels to learn ways to volunteer.

4. Help a School Check with your area school system to see if they need volunteers to distribute food (or other items) to children and families in need.

5. Give Blood Blood donations have decreased dramatically. Help fill the need by contacting your local Red Cross or other blood donation sites.

6. Become a Medical Volunteer Trained medical volunteers can offer their services by registering with a National VOAD member. Medical professionals and others can help locally by joining the Medical Reserve Corps or registering through the Emergency System for the Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals.

7. Donate Medical Supplies and Equipment If you have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please email FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center at nbeoc@fema.dhs.gov.

8. Stay in Touch Check on your neighbors, friends, and family – especially those who are older or may be alone. A phone call, text, or a conversation through the door could brighten their day.

9. Serve in Your Community Many states are identifying local volunteer opportunities; visit your State Service Commission’s website for details.

10. Volunteer from Home Prefer to volunteer while staying at home? Check out AllForGood.org for service ideas.


Local perspective: generously provided by Portland State University Student Community Engagement Center, https://www.pdx.edu/student-community-engagement/

· Serve as a Virtual Mentor and Resource Navigator for immigrant & refugee families in the greater Portland area through local organization People Places Things.

· Assist Oregon’s emergency response to COVID-19 by working with 211 to contacting health and social service programs to gather updated information about their service delivery, hours, eligibility, etc.

· Sew masks to donate to local organizations like Albertina Kerr, Transition Projects, and/or Multnomah County's Emergency Response efforts.

· Help tutor the kids of front line COVID-19 workers with Pencil & Screen.

· Know how to 3-D print? Some people are able to 3-D print needed supplies.

· Blood donations, in light of blood shortages.

· Support local health care workers in a number of ways -- and celebrate them each night with some noise at 7pm!

· Only sharing confirmed facts via social media

· Support efforts to identify healthy people who can go to the grocery store for folks who cannot and doorstep deliver groceries for them

· Google Hangout/Facetime conversations to counteract the physical social isolation

· Donate extra craft/art supplies, books, videos for families with kids at home

· Put together a box of needed supplies and encouragement to support children in foster care in our state through Every Child's My NeighbOR initiative (see an example of what goes in a box here).

· Interruption of xenophobic reactions on social media or in conversations

· Calls or emails to elected officials to advocate on behalf of needs in this time

· Yale's Free "Happiness Course" online

· Remote check ins with folks you know are living alone and/or are isolating or in quarantine

· Notes of thanks to those in leadership roles or in positions that are not able to stay home.

· Quarantine Chat. Allows users to receive phone calls from other random users who want to talk.

· Digital support for neighborhood alliance and mutual aid groups, such as PDX COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network.

· Share your thoughts and reflections on COVID-19 with someone in another part of Oregon through Oregon Humanities' Dear Stranger project. Check out the volunteer and donation needs of many local Portland-area nonprofits serving folks who are homebound or unhoused through Hands On Greater Portland's resource page.

· Stay informed and share with others what emergency relief resources are open in our state to support food access, shelters, rental assistance, crisis hotlines, urgent volunteer needs and more through Congressman Earl Blumenaur's COVID-19 Emergency Relief Resources spreadsheet.

· Stay up-to-date with opportunities to help and/or receive help nationwide through this handy, easy-to-search COVID Resources website, broken up by topic and state.

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