NEW YORK CITY (SBG) - It's easy to get sucked into the grim data analyses, tales of devastating loss, and worst-case scenarios that seem to dominate the news right now. But in the midst of the more somber headlines are numerous uplifting stories about people showing up for each other and supporting their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. Seeing the world in crisis has certainly inspired many to offer their time and talents, rather than just posting vague thoughts and prayers on social media.
If you're feeling similarly inspired to step up your game, there are plenty of ways to volunteer while staying home. Whether you've found yourself with endless free time or you're as busy as ever, the opportunities range from minimal time commitments to more intensive trainings. And whatever your interests and talents may be, there's sure to be something on this list that'll catch your eye.
Contribute to penguin conservation by counting penguins in remote regions.
If you've been filling your time by watching zoo and aquarium livestreams, Penguin Watch gives you the opportunity to use your passion for animals for the greater good. The project, which has already benefited from the help of over 13,000 people, asks volunteers to count penguins in images from time lapse cameras. By individually marking penguins, chicks, and eggs, you'll help researchers understand penguin population changes.
And continue to aid conservation efforts by identifying species.
The Zoological Society of London's Instant Wild program transmits live video and images from motion-triggered cameras to the devices of users around the world. Wildlife enthusiasts can tag the different species in each photo to help conservation scientists with their work. No specific expertise is needed to take part, thanks to the field guides provided on the website.
Send cards, treats, and para-cord bracelets to deployed service members and veterans in need.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Soldiers' Angels offered many opportunities for virtual volunteering. If you've found yourself with extra time on your hands, consider writing letters to soldiers overseas or baking treats for a care package. The charity is also looking for people to make para-cord bracelets, so you could pick up a new hobby at the same time.
Support coronavirus relief efforts by joining a collaborative project to improve maps around the world.
Missing Maps is a collaborative initiative that aims to map vulnerable areas in the developing world. And during the coronavirus outbreak, accurate and updated information on maps is crucial for guiding those at risk to proper health care and assisting governments in their relief efforts. New to remote mapping? Follow tutorials to learn how to map, and once you've got a grasp on it, you can dive into COVID-19-related projects.
Connect your child with an isolated senior for a storytime video call.
Want to get your child involved in volunteer efforts? Check out StoriiTime, a new offering from senior care management platform Storii. Sign up online to set up a video call between your child and an isolated senior. Once you've matched with someone, the senior will read a story to your child, providing entertainment and connection on both ends during this difficult time.
Or adopt a grandparent to help combat loneliness.
Along those same lines, you might consider adopting a grandparent through CHD Living. After you fill out a brief application, CHD Living will pair you with a resident. From there, you can begin building an intergenerational bond via phone calls and video calls, as well as through written mail.
Volunteer online with the United Nations.
The United Nations is looking for people with a wide variety of skills for their online volunteering opportunities. Whether your specific talents lie in community organizing, research, art and design, or another area entirely, there's likely to be a way for you to put your expertise into action.
Use your foreign language knowledge to help a refugee in need of a translator.
The challenges related to coronavirus are amplified for those who don't speak English, as the language barrier can prohibit immigrants and refugees from staying informed and getting proper care. If you're fluent in another language, you can serve as a translator for those in need through an app called Tarjimly. You could also check out translation opportunities with Translators without Borders.
Becoming a tutor to help a child succeed.
Learn To Be provides free one-on-one tutoring to students in underserved communities. Want to make a difference in a student's life? You can get involved by first filling out an online application and then dedicating a small amount of time each week for tutoring in Learn To Be's online classroom.
Provide assistance to a blind or low-vision person.
Through Be My Eyes, blind or low-vision people can receive help from sighted volunteers and ultimately lead more independent lives. Volunteers can help with tasks like reading birthday cards, finding a particular object, or checking an expiration date. Getting started as a volunteer is simple — download the app to begin lending your eyes.
Train to become a Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line.
If you have more time to commit to volunteering, you can learn about reflective listening, collaborative problem-solving, and crisis management with the Crisis Text Line's training program. After 30 hours of training, you'll be equipped with the skills to support those in crisis via text message. This role is particularly suited to night owls and morning birds, as most of the crisis situations arise at night.
Use your voice to help improve and diversify synthetic voices.
English speakers all over the world can "donate" their voices to support VocaliD's mission to humanize synthetic voices. By contributing your voice to their Human Voicebank, you'll help VocaliD craft custom voices for individuals living with speechlessness and advance their unique technology.
Take part in a transcription project to make the Smithsonian's collections more accessible.
Your volunteer work can become a learning opportunity with the Smithsonian Transcription Center. You can transcribe letters from American artists living in Paris during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a diary of insect-catching excursions, or the records from a rural American folk festival. The crowdsourcing project will help to increase the accessibility of historical documents and collection records.
Offer your skills to help governments with their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Founded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Digital Response is a non-partisan service that offers free assistance and skilled expertise to governments in need. Qualified professionals, all working on a volunteer basis, are helping with projects related to data science, engineering, copywriting, and more. If you're interested in helping, you can submit an application, and the program will attempt to match you with a project relevant to your experience.
And check out volunteer listings for even more ideas of how you can help from home.
If nothing on this list quite suited your interests, or if you're just interested in checking out further opportunities, there are plenty of online resources to find volunteer positions. Browse the listings on the Deed app, or click the "Remote Only" filter on Idealist. While virtual volunteering allows you to help organizations worldwide, you could also reach out to local charities that may need assistance during the pandemic.