Volunteerism in COVID-19
It is impossible to spend more than a few minutes without experiencing a change that COVID-19 has brought. Every aspect of life has been upended in order to protect the most vulnerable in society, and many may be feeling useless and unimportant. Staying at home and avoiding unneeded risk of exposure is important and anyone who is doing this is working to limit the spread. However, for people who wish to do more, there are many volunteer opportunities. For any volunteer opportunity someone participates in, it is important to understand that all exposure has risk and everything should be done with safety in mind.
One of the easiest ways to help out is to donate blood. When the pandemic started in Illinois in early March, local blood banks issued a statement asking for blood donations, since many blood drives were cancelled. People came out in droves and the stock is now quite healthy. That being said, these early donors will not be able to donate again for a while and a shortage can easily creep up. Blood donations from others can help with that need. It is easy and fast, and very sanitary. These facilities were already the pinnacle of cleanliness and now they are going even more extreme with cleaning. Information for the Springfield area can be found at https://www.bloodcenter.org/.
If blood donations are not your preference, the State of Illinois has a website dedicated to providing an easy way to see what volunteer opportunities exist, with filters that can be used to choose location or type of work. Serve Illinois has a massive list of ongoing volunteer opportunities. Some are unrelated to COVID-19, while others are more closely connected. Regardless of how directly it is connected to the disease, everything helps. Any volunteer work frees resources for mitigation and treatment of the disease. As of the time of the writing of this article, Serve Illinois has 91 listings for Sangamon County alone, covering a wide range of activities – anything from helping with Girl Scout administration to delivering meals for the elderly in the area. Volunteer opportunities on Serve Illinois can be found at https://serveillinois.galaxydigital.com/.
There are many things people can do in their own lives as well if they wish to help in a less structured format. One of the best things young people can do is deliver groceries for elderly family members and neighbors, preventing those at risk from being potentially exposed. That being said, young people have died from COVID-19 as well, and going out to do these activities is not guaranteed to be safe. It is safer for the youth, but still dangerous. Whatever a person decides to do, maintain proper safety protocols, stay healthy, and weigh the risks when making a decision.