Volunteering under quarantine

One way to give back to the community is by donating food to the Comet Cupboard. Photo Courtesy of Comet Cupboard


OSV provides list of remote volunteer opportunities

Though in-person volunteer opportunities have been dwindling with the rise of COVID-19, the number of remote volunteer opportunities have expanded.

Even before COVID-19, there existed remote volunteering opportunities such as translating for Translators Without Borders and being an online emotional support listener for 7 Cups. Now, virtual volunteering is attracting more attention, and some volunteer positions such as tutoring or teaching positions have been moved online.

Anne Hart, program coordinator at the UTD Office of Student Volunteerism, said that VolunteerMatch is a website that has specific opportunities for virtual volunteering that one can connect with in different fields such as advocacy and human rights, arts and culture, computers and technology and more. Opportunities to volunteer such as technical writing and web software engineering are offered, with the details on their website.

“(They have) opportunities that really focus on the COVID-19 response,” Hart said. “What’s cool about that is you can filter for your different areas of passion and then zip codes as well.”

Hart said that another website called Catchafire matches potential volunteers to different opportunities as well.

“Most of these opportunities are with nonprofits and so it can be either a short or a long-term commitment,” Hart said. “But what’s really cool about those is that you can actually really develop more of your professional skills and help forward whatever it is your career is as well. Sometimes nonprofits need help with marketing, so they’ll post something like that on there.”

UTD also offers COVID-19 volunteer opportunities specific to the campus community. Hart said that the Comet Cupboard needs assistance with food donations, and the UTD Student Emergency Fund, which is distributed to students who are facing financial challenges, is accepting donations as well.

“There’s a growing need from our campus community for food. Anyone in the UTD community can continue to donate to the Comet Cupboard for sure,” Hart said. “And then if you start looking more into local needs, a lot of food banks … are having issues in terms of collecting enough food because there’s such a great demand right now, because people aren’t able to afford food. So if you’re able, definitely continue to donate in that way.”

Hart also said that UTD is trying to make masks for the essential workers who are still on the UTD campus. Students can help sew face masks to donate to the essential workers on campus, and different tutorials on how to sew face masks are offered on websites such as nytimes.com and sarahmaker.com. Students who are interested in sewing masks should email UT Dallas Staff Council member Debra Greszler at debra.greszler@utdallas.edu.

“Being able to virtually volunteer, just taking yourself out of all those negative or challenging thoughts and just giving what you can to those who really need that health and that assistance can give you a greater sense of purpose and feel connected right now in a different sort of way,” Hart said. “And hopefully reduce some stress as well. You’re just (thinking), okay, how can I help? How can I give my time here?”

In addition, The Office of Student Volunteerism provided The Mercury with a list of specific remote volunteer opportunities:

  1.  Missing Maps: Help to map roads, buildings, and more in places where disasters occur that are “missing” from the map for humanitarian organizations who are trying to meet the needs of people in those areas.
  2. Translators Without Borders: If you are fluent in more than one language, volunteer to translate content focused on health, crisis relief and education with Translators Without Borders! Requires an application.
  3. LibriVox: Help read and record public domain books, transforming them into free accessible audiobooks.
  4. Zooniverse: Take part in people-powered research that wouldn’t be possible without volunteers. Spend some time helping to classify galaxy systems, transcribe old manuscripts or help out research in whatever your area of passion is.
  5. Project Gutenberg: Help to proofread new eBooks along with other volunteers! You can do as much or little as you want, and you get to collaborate with other proofreaders.
  6. Be My Eyes: Get connected to blind and low-vision individuals to assist them through a live video call. Read expiration dates, navigate new surroundings, and more!
  7. 7 Cups: 7 Cups provides free, 24/7 emotional support to millions via online chat. All you need is an internet connection and to sign up for some training, and you can help provide emotional support to people.
  8. Smithsonian Digital Volunteering: Help make the Smithsonian collections more accessible by volunteering online to transcribe historical documents and provide better access to biodiversity data.
  9. Project Implicit: Assist Harvard researchers working to figure out the best ways to break down stereotypes by taking tests on your implicit associations.
  10. United Nations: Get connected with organizations working for peace and development in need of skills like research, writing, art and design. Join thousands of volunteers from across the globe! Partners eligible for UN Online Volunteering are UN entities, governmental or other public institutions and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). Requires an application.
  11. Crisis Text Line: Become a volunteer and help the organization to offer free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. If you’re 18 or older and can commit at least 4 hours each week, you can apply to be trained for free. Requires an application.
  12. The Human Voicebank: Record and share your voice so that those with speech impairments may also have a unique voice and be heard.
  13. Reading Partners: Help students who are behind in reading to conquer reading fundamentals and meet their reading grade level.
  14. Operation Photo Rescue: If you are skilled in Photoshop, apply to be one of many volunteers that work hard to restore photos that have been damaged in disasters.


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