Most undergraduate students are used to a lively though packed schedule, taking a variety of classes, surrounded by different people, and striving for different goals. Although online classes continue, there is no way to replace some of the other important activities we participated in on campus, including volunteering, fundraising, and engaging with the community in general. It is natural in a time like this to feel isolated and even helpless–which is why we’ve assembled a brief sample of ways you can reconnect with the community and fight the pandemic.
Although I am writing from the perspective of an undergraduate student, plenty of these activities work for people of all ages and experience. Whether you are a high schooler stuck at home or an office worker looking for new ways to fill an empty schedule, there is plenty to do for others during the quarantine.
How can we continue to support the community during the pandemic, without going outside?
- Making Masks
Now, there has been a lot of discussion about who should be wearing masks, but now that the CDC has officially recommended them for everyone’s everyday wear, there is no doubt that we have a huge shortage on our hands. These aren’t medical-grade masks, but having enough for the general population is a challenge in and of itself.
- Fostering Animals
Now that fewer people are going to work and businesses are closing, one of the major hits has been animal shelters. Now with fewer and fewer workers, and as well as fewer adoptions taking place, these shelters could use some helping hands to take care of their animals. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find your new best friend. Bonus: pets are unlikely to be affected by coronavirus but make great companions for quarantine if you are separated from friends and family.
According to Time Magazine’s Guide to Happiness, pets offer the same social support the humans seek from each other. People who have pets tend to have lower blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease.
- Helping identify/organize data
This option is for all the data and coding junkies out there who may be itching for their next project. Since the announcement of the pandemic, you may have noticed all sorts of graphs and projections out there on the internet. But there is still a shortage of information, especially organized information.
Johns Hopkins hosted a five-day hackathon in March that attracted thousands of participants. Other universities and organizations have been quick to jump in– a quick Google search will lead you in the right direction for hackathons you can participate in today. If you aren’t the marathon-coder type, there are still plenty of datasets online that you can work with.
Check out this example: UNESCO launches CodeTheCurve Hackathon to develop digital solutions in response to COVID-19
Donating to charities and organizations is a year-round business, but during a pandemic they may be suffering even more from lack of supplies and workers. Disadvantaged populations like the homeless or people who do not have proper access to healthcare may depend on donations to get through these coming months.
On an international level, the World Health Organization has set up the COVID-19 Response Fund, which goes toward activities such as tracking the virus, providing front line workers with proper protective equipment, treating patients, and developing a vaccine. They estimate a need of $675 million for countries most in need. Be sure to visit their website or see their Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for more details!
Another well-known organization devoting their efforts to relief is the Salvation Army, which is operating in the United States at the local, state, and federal level. They provide medical care, updated information, and access to better hygiene for the homeless population.
Finally, there are many local organizations that you can connect with. If you live near a city, chances are there is already a network of smaller shelters and charities that are in need of donations in the form of money, food, or clothing. You can also check up on your neighbors, especially those living alone or who are elderly, as another way of supporting your local community,
- Supporting local businesses
Every takeout fanatic’s favorite bonus: supporting local businesses! But this is actually incredibly important. In this time of shutdowns and distancing, lots of small and family-owned businesses are having a hard time coping. They are mostly still open for delivery or drive-through options, so be sure to show your support and take a day from the cooking so that those same businesses will still be there after the quarantine is over.
If you have more ideas on how to help during the pandemic, comment below, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org