By Sophie Phillips
It’s in times like these when it’s easy to feel powerless; you feel like you can’t impact a single person—much less the world. Although it’s nothing short of commendable that people are rallying together and sharing their wealth with those who need it, it’s not always feasible for people to donate their money in the midst of an economic crisis that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. However, just because you can’t or won’t donate money, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do your part to make your community (and maybe even the world) a better place. Below are some ways that you can better those around you, both near and far, without spending a dime:
- The first way that you can make an impact and serve others is by volunteering with organizations virtually. During a global pandemic, it’s organizations like the UN or the Crisis Text Line who work directly with people to get them the help that they need. Below are some incredible volunteer opportunities at varying commitment levels, so that you can find one that suits your schedule and your interests:
- Words of Thanks is an organization, created by high school sophomore Hansuja Chaurasia, that assigns you a hospital that you’ll write a letter to (it can be handwritten, a picture, or digital, depending on the hospital’s policy)
- Are you a history buff? If so, Smithsonian Digital Volunteers might be for you. Volunteering here gives you the chance to transcribe historical documents, and they have a list of ongoing transcription projects here.
- Do you find yourself unsure of how you would like to contribute to an organization? The UN has twelve broad categories where you can volunteer. From translation to art design to outreach and advocacy, you really can’t go wrong (and not to mention, it doesn’t look too shabby on a resume…)
- If you’re looking for a bigger commitment and you’re a good listener, then volunteering for the Crisis Text Line is an excellent way to give back. Volunteers working for the Crisis Text Line move texters from a state of crisis to a state of calm, and have the ability to save lives (literally), and go through rigorous and free training so they’re able to do so. Although it’s a 200-hour commitment for at least four hours a week, many say it’s well worth the time—just be sure that you’re able to be in a good place mentally before doing this type of work!
2. If volunteering is not your thing and you feel really passionately about certain causes (such as food insecurity, poverty, sustainability, etc.) or organizations, speak out and share your support on social media, especially with organizations that aren’t as well known. Although money is power, clout is too. The more shares, likes, and follows a page gets on social media the more influential that they become, and the more able they are to make a change in the world.
- If writing has always been your thing, another wonderful way that you can spread the word about awesome organizations or important causes is to write for Beyond the Pandemic! We are constantly looking for articles that make an impact, so if you would like to either write once or on an ongoing basis, consult this document, and get typing!
3. Lastly, sometimes the most impactful things that you can do are the most simple. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the grand gestures that people can do to change the world, but sometimes, it’s significantly more effective to lift up those around you, whether it’s by doing random acts of kindness, being there when someone needs you, or simply being kind to everyone you meet. Below, you’ll find some ideas for random acts of kindness that you can do for anyone, whether it’s your closest friend or family member, or a random person on the street:
- Text, call, email, and check up on those around you—especially when it’s not expected. Make an extra effort to ask about their days, or how they’re doing; you never know when someone needs a loving friend or family member.
- If you’re living with someone and have the time, do extra chores around the house to make their life a little easier. You don’t have to clean the whole house, but a little vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, and even bed-making goes a long way.
- If you like to cook, make your best dish for an elderly family member, or even cook for a neighbor or someone close by if nobody is around you! At this time, it’s all too easy to feel down, and there’s no greater show of care—in my humble opinion—than making delicious home-cooked food with a lot of love (and good seasoning).
- Give yours, a friend’s or a neighbor’s dog a nice walk. Due to stay-at-home measures, it’s difficult for some to take their furry friend on a stroll, and for any dog owners out there, you know that your fur baby can get antsy if there is no walk waiting for them. However, a word of caution: bring a mask/bandana/scarf and sanitizing equipment with you. Even if you’re outside, this is a scary time for many people, and it’s not only to prevent them from catching your germs, but also for their peace of mind as well. Also, sanitizing the leash or any other equipment that you bring with you is a good idea.
- Simply being kind to those around you is in itself the ultimate act of kindness. There is so much value in being someone who cares about others and is polite and considerate to everyone whom they meet. People severely underestimate the power of a kind word or a person with good energy to them to brighten up the space around them. Even if you’re on the shyer or more serious side, you can most certainly be that person too.
Being in a pandemic is hard enough for everyone as it is, but if you take the time to think of others and give back when you can, you can make your home planet a little brighter. If you’re feeling alone or helpless at the disposal of SARS-CoV-2, please know that you’re not alone. No matter where you come from, there are so many others who are feeling the exact same things as you. Although it is crucial to recognize the role that inequality plays in outcomes during the pandemic (adequate testing, affordable healthcare, access to healthy food and safe spaces to exercise, where and with whom you’re quarantining) and to advocate for those who need it, it is important now—more than ever—to be united with one another in the common goal of not only eradicating the virus, but staying sane,(relatively) happy, healthy, and kind during and after the process.