9 Ways You Can Virtually Volunteer From Home Right Now

Photo credit: Future Publishing - Getty Images
Photo credit: Future Publishing - Getty Images

From House Beautiful

For those seeking a useful way to spend their time during social distancing—or anyone simply interested in forging a deeper connection with their homes—HB has launched Home Love, a series of daily tips and ideas to make every minute indoors more productive (and gratifying!).

While we were delighted to hear that so many design companies have been helping out during this challenging time (see our Design Unites section to read more about what they're doing!), reporting on all this has made us feel like we could be doing more. Lending a helping hand does become pretty tricky though, when you're advised not to touch things or go out in public. Luckily, the internet is rife with volunteer opportunities that you can take advantage of right now. Here are nine ways you can spread some kindness right from your home.

Be a listening ear for someone struggling right now

Mental health is always important, but even more so now as many folks have been separated from their friends and family. 7 Cups is an online therapy platform that offers paid services with licensed professionals and free services with volunteers. Volunteers or "listeners" as they're called, can either talk with or message users. All user and volunteer information is kept anonymous—you can sign up to be 7 Cups a volunteer here. Similar to 7 Cups is Crisis Text Line, where you can also apply to exchange text messages with individuals going through a rough patch. Crisis Text Line requires a 30-hour virtual training course, which you can get started on here.

Find a volunteer opportunity tailored to your skills and interests

Catchafire is a platform where non-profits post open volunteer opportunities. Many of these opportunities require very specific skill sets, an application, and can take either less than an hour to complete, to a couple weeks. Right now there is a posting asking for a volunteer to design a brochure for the American Cancer Society South Region. There is also a posting seeking a translator for the Jersey City Office of Sustainability. For those furloughed and looking to keep honing in on their craft while helping out, this website is a good resource.

Answer questions about your job

Career Village is a website where students are able to connect with experienced professionals in their field and learn more about their roles. Right now, you can do your part and answer questions about your current your job and/or general questions about your field. All you need is a LinkedIn profile to get started.

Sew blankets for Binky Patrol

Started in Oregon, Binky Patrol is an organization that sews blankets to be donated to hospitals and shelters and need. While some communities have their own chapters, anyone wishing to create can do so from wherever they like and send finished products here. Volunteers are allowed to design the blanket however they like, but should keep in mind that these are often delivered to kids. Also, in light of COVID-19, special procedures have been put into place and many facilities have halted blanket collection and are instead asking for face masks. We suggest contacting the closest Binky Patrol chapter in your area to ask if it is looking for anything in particular. Here are all the ways you can help.

Help out kids with reading barriers

BookShare is an e-book library that helps people with dyslexia, learning disabilities, visual impairments, physical disabilities, and other reading barriers to read and enjoy stories. Containing over 800,000 titles, BookShare is always looking for volunteers to help expand its library. Volunteers can scan books to the platform, as well as proofread and describe images.

Join the United Nations volunteer force

Each year, over 12,000 volunteers from 187 countries help the United Nation further its mission of spreading peace and development worldwide—all from their computers. Volunteers can choose from a range of tasks such as writing and editing, art and design, research, event planning, and more. You can become a United Nations Volunteer here.

Virtually walk for cancer

If you've ever participated in an American Cancer Society Relay for Life event, you're familiar with how the community-wide fundraising event operates. Now, instead of camping out and walking for loved ones in real life, you can do it in a virtual world. Second Life is a 3D virtual world, similar to The Sims, which has partnered with the American Cancer Society to allow users to host virtual Relay for Life events. Users can walk 3D world laps, light virtual luminaria, and make actual donations using its digital currency Linden dollars. You can learn more about completing a virtual Relay for Life through Second Life here. The American Cancer Society is also accepting online and social media volunteers, too. Responsibilities may include sending emails about cancer advocacy, fundraising needs and/or sharing online petitions on your personal social media platforms. Learn more here.

Become an online tutor

Learn to Be offers free and low cost one-on-one tutoring sessions to students from kindergarten to 12th grade. You can apply to become a tutor and help students with their five paragraph essays, math homework, and more during one hour virtual sessions. The program even accepts high school volunteers.

Post on social media for a good cause

If you're social media-savvy, you might enjoy partaking in American Red Cross’ digital volunteer opportunities. Volunteers can help out just by sharing important disaster updates and resources on their personal social accounts. Furthermore, volunteers may be asked to monitor online conversations with disaster-affected people, as well as serving as a compassionate voice to those impacted. Another way to help (although it's non-virtual), is by donating blood to the American Red Cross. There has been a massive decline in donations this year as blood drives across the country have been cancelled. You can check your area for blood drives here.

Looking for more ways to help?

  • You can donate to the Coronavirus Care Fund which provides emergency relief to domestic workers like nannies, house cleaners, and in-home care takers, who may be either out of work or jeopardizing their health to continue working

  • Airbnb is currently looking for hosts to offer their property for free to COVID-19 responders. In return, the platform is waiving all frees for hosts. Not a host? You can also donate to help. Learn more here.

  • You can help feed families in need by donating to Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund.

  • You can take a tip or two from former First Lady Michelle Obama, who shared a few ways to help on her Instagram. We really love Michelle's suggestion of ordering takeout for our local fire department or hospital staff (with permission, of course), as well as buying gift cards from local places now to be used later.

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For more Home Love ideas, head here—we'll be launching a new one every day until April 1st. And tag your own home project photos #homelove for everyone to enjoy!

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