Virtual Volunteering – 10 ways you can make a difference even while social distancing!

Let’s give the world as much kindness as we can right now. Virtual volunteering makes it possible for teens (and adults!) to make a difference in the world, even during the pandemic.

Our teen volunteers have the opportunity to meet up on Monday afternoons via Zoom to socialize while we’re volunteering, but it’s not required (visit our Event Calendar and look for the next “Virtual Monday Teen Volunteers” to sign up to receive the Zoom link).

So how can you make a difference in your community while in the midst of social distancing restrictions? Here are some suggestions for virtual volunteering (but you can certainly come up with your own ideas as well):

Virtual Volunteer Idea #1: Sew masks for those in need

Right now, there’s a need for reusable cloth medical masks for those in the at-risk population and for people in higher-risk jobs. You can easily make the masks by following along with tutorials and can organize donating these to the people who need them most.

Virtual Volunteer Idea #2: Become a virtual tutor

With more kids across the country shifting to online learning, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in helping anyone struggling with school. The simplest way for you to become a virtual volunteer tutor is by letting your teacher know you are available, or check out sites like TeensGive.org. If you’re really good at a subject, offer to tutor kids through Zoom or FaceTime.

Virtual Volunteer Idea #3: Play games with seniors over video

There are many vulnerable populations feeling isolated, and this is especially true for seniors who aren’t able to have visitors. Set up a virtual game night or hangout with the seniors in your life, or those living at a local nursing home. This helps foster a greater sense of belonging and helps mental health all around. You can read more on SeniorsLiving.org.

Virtual Volunteer Idea #4: Start a fundraiser

There are plenty of organizations that need funds right now. Start with something local. One example is to host a fundraiser to purchase gift cards for gasoline to the staff of your local hospital. Here are some great fundraising ideas for you to try out.

Virtual Volunteer Idea #5: Write, write write!

There are so many ways to connect with people even when we have to remain physically distant. Bringing back the lost art of writing is a good way to volunteer. Check out this list of virtual pen pal resources to find out how to connect with other kids around the world. Alternatively, say thank you to front line workers or send letters to soldiers far from home or to patients in the hospital. Nothing warms the heart like a handwritten note.

Write your local officials. We have Representatives, Senators, and a Governor whose jobs are to represent their constituents–that’s us. So, write your elected officials about what they can do to help during this time. Some ideas are getting appropriate N95 masks for healthcare professionals, securing more ventilators for hospitals, giving financial aid to people that have lost their jobs and businesses, or putting rent and mortgage payments on hold.You can send your letter to them online here.

Write a letter to the president of the United States. Why not just take it to the top? Your voice could be the key to getting legislation passed that will serve others and even our country as a whole. You can send him an email or a letter.

Virtual Volunteer Idea #6: Start a petition

You can take up a cause for your local town and drive a petition through Change.org. Think locally by focusing on your school or community. (https://www.change.org/start-a-petition)

Virtual Volunteer Idea #7: Share social media posts for important actions, fight cyberbullying. 

For those of you with social media profiles, sharing important information from health officials or other community organizations is a great way for you to help virtually. Sharing posts from American Red Cross about giving blood, phone numbers for helplines for kids, or accurate information on the coronavirus are all simple, but important ways to help. More kids than ever are depending on social media for social interaction, which makes cyberbullying even more likely. Help keep kids safe online by joining organizations like Tweenangels or Teenangels. Or just do your part to stop bullying rather than perpetuating it.

Virtual Volunteer Idea #8: Sign up to help transcribe historical documents or update Wikipedia pages

If you are into history, there are some interesting volunteer opportunities with the Smithsonian who can help transcribe historical documents and update relevant Wikipedia pages. You can use your love for learning and make an impact in these important organizations.

Virtual Volunteer Idea #9: Sew blankets or cage comforters 

There are so many kids and animals in need, and comfort items like blankets can make a big difference. Volunteering with an organization like BinkyPatrol or Project Linus is a great way to give back. Right now, they’re also looking for donations for cloth masks as well.

Virtual Volunteer Idea #10: Lend your eyesight for the blind or those of low vision

Pair up with an organization like BeMyEyes.  BeMyEyes is a completely virtual service,  done over a blind person’s smart phone using the camera, and allows sighted volunteers aged 17 or older to directly help a blind or low-vision person with daily tasks. You can sign up to get paired with a person in need. That person might need help with tasks like checking expiration dates, distinguishing colors, reading instructions, or navigating new surroundings.

Here are some more general ideas:

  • Clean out your closets. Use this free time to declutter your space. Pull out all clothes, toys, games, books, etc. that you no longer use. If they’re in good shape, gather them together and donate them to organizations like the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Habitat for Humanity.
  • Share your talents. Do you sing? Play the guitar? Dance? Take amazing photos? Burp the alphabet? Jump online and offer some free lessons to other bored kids stuck at home. You can also put on a virtual concert to entertain your family, friends, and other people stuck in isolation and needing a break from Netflix.
  • Donate your skills. Are you artistic? Can you build a website? Edit videos? Write? There are many organizations and charities that could use your help to get their message out. Reach out to them and let them know what you can offer or post on Facebook community groups.

And here are some additional resources:

Are you a Cheshire teen who needs community service credits for school?  Send us descriptions, screenshots, or pics of whatever virtual volunteering you’ve done, and the amount of time you spent doing it, and we’ll award you community service hours for your service. Send it to kgile@cheshirelibrary.org – and thanks for making a difference!

Teens & Community Service: Being Part of Something Bigger than Yourself

Today’s post is by our Teen Librarian, Kelley:

Teenage community service is more than something that adults insist will look good on a high school resume. It is often a requirement for graduating high school and it’s a great way for students to build their skill sets. More importantly, volunteer opportunities for teens and high school students can be a life-changing experience, one that allows teens to expand their horizons and foster meaningful relationships. Community service can point to new interests, new friends, and if you’re really lucky, maybe even a lifelong career. And yeah, okay, it’ll also look great on college applications!But where to start? Volunteering implies responsibility, and might seem intimidating. How can you be sure you’re finding opportunities that are right for you? There are always easy entry points, like the service clubs at high schools or helping out at a local library, but beyond that, the options can get overwhelming. So where should you look? There are many local and national volunteer agencies and non-profit organizations that accept teens under 18 who are interested in everything from working with animals to crafting for charities, and we’ve put together a volunteering resource for the teens of Cheshire, which is located on the teen page of our website.

Curious about still more community service ideas? Many other kinds of community groups are looking for volunteers, and some may not have occurred to you. Most of us know that hospitals, libraries, and churches use volunteers for a great deal of their work, but here are some volunteer opportunities that may not have crossed your mind:

  • Day Care Centers, Neighborhood Watch, Public Schools and Colleges
  • Community Theaters, Fraternal Organizations and Civic Clubs
  • Arts Councils, Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Meals on Wheels
  • Literacy Groups, Museums, Art Galleries, and Monument Sites
  • Community Choirs, Bands and Orchestras, Music Therapy Programs
  • Neighborhood Parks, Youth Organizations, Sports Teams and After-school Programs
  • Historical Restorations, Battlefields and National Parks

Good luck! We know you’ll soon be on the path to community service superstardom!

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in February?

February is a short month, but there’s no shortage of great programs on our Event Calendar – here are just a few:

screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-4-11-23-pmJobNow

Wednesday Feb 1, 2017, 2:00  –  3:00 PM

Do you need help with your job search, your resume, or interviewing techniques?  JobNow, powered by Brainfuse, provides live interactive online help combined with online resources to guide you through the necessary tasks to get a job, and is available free to CPL cardholders. No registration required for this workshop.

adult_coloring_bookColor Yourself Calm

Thurs, Feb 2, and Mon, Feb 20, 2017, 6:00 PM

De-stress your busy life with a relaxing night of coloring. We’ll provide coloring pages and supplies, but feel free to bring your own pages and art supplies!

pre-school-fairPreschool Fair

Saturday Feb 4, 2017, 1:00  –  3:30 PM

The Cheshire Public Library would like to invite you to participate in our Preschool Fair on Saturday, February 4.  In the event of bad weather, the snow date will be March 4th.   This program will allow you to meet and ask questions with preschools in the Cheshire area. Our objective is to provide you support by offering a one-stop-shop to community preschools in order to navigate through endless information regarding school facilities, personnel, and educational philosophies. No registration required.

sheboygan-one-armer-w-rings-croppedChinese New Year with Acrobat Li Liu

Saturday Feb 11, 2017, 11:00  –  11:45 AM

Celebrate the end of Chinese New Year with acrobat Li Liu! For all ages, no registration required.

andy_and_judyFolk Duo Andy and Judy Daigle

Sunday Feb 12, 2017, 2:00 PM

Talented folk duo Andy & Judy Daigle blend popular folk covers with their growing list of original songs. he New England natives have been singing together since 2009, first performing at open mic nights where they featured cover versions of songs written by favorites John Prine, Bob Dylan, Ian and Sylvia, and Peter, Paul & Mary. This concert is free and open to the public, no registration required.

5-pretzel-log-graham-cracker-gingerbread-houseAwesome Jr. : Edible Architecture

Tuesday Feb 14, 2017, 4:00  –  4:45 PM

School-age kids in grades K-2 are invited to Awesome Jr. for fun with science, technology, engineering, art, and math. We’ll read stories, conduct experiments, play with apps, and make works of art. Today we’re going to make edible architecture out of frosting, graham crackers, pretzels, and other yummy building materials. Registration is required.

cheshiregrin3-copyCheshire C.A.T.s

Thursday Feb 16, 2017, 3:00  –  4:30 PM

Are you looking to give back to your community? Fulfill a community service requirement? Have fun? Consider becoming a member of the Cheshire Council of Advisory Teens (Cheshire CATs). Just what IS Cheshire CATS you ask? It’s a group of dedicated teens who are interested in making a difference at the Cheshire Public Library. Members will play a critical role in developing the library’s young adult collection, young adult outreach, event planning and marketing, and making the library a friendlier place for young adults. Members will meet monthly, earn community service credit and will have a direct impact on teen life at the library. No registration required, join us!

cropped-paint-nightPaint Night

Thursday Feb 16, 2017, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

Escape from the clutches of winter at our Tropical Paradise Paint Night…come dressed in your favorite summer outfit and be transported to a scene by the sea, where all of your thoughts drift into hues of summer. No experience necessary, only a desire for fun and relaxation. We will explore basic techniques to create your masterpiece.  Registration required for this adult program.

img_8919Pete the Cat Party

Saturday Feb 18, 2017, 10:00  –  11:00 AM

Join us for the coolest storytime around! We’ll read some of our favorite Pete the Cat books, do lots of singing and dancing, and make our own musical instruments. Pete the Cat himself will be dropping by for hugs, high-fives, and photos. It’s all good! For children of all ages and their families. Registration is required.

bird-feeder-winterBird Feeders In Winter

Thursday Feb 23, 2017, 6:30 PM

Angela Dimmitt who will help us identify birds that you might typically see at your bird feeders and discuss which type of feeders and feed will attract particular birds. She is a member of Litchfield Hills Audubon Society, the Western Connecticut Bird Club and the Connecticut Ornithological Association. Registration is required.

dance_clubZumba

Saturday Feb 25, 2017, 2:00  –  3:00 PM

Have you been wondering what Zumba is and if it’s right for you? Zumba is a popular dance based fitness program inspired by Latin music and dance. It’s Different, it’s Fun, it’s Effective and it’s Easy to do! Come and experience Zumba!! This Zumba demonstration for adults presented by Donna Paventy-certified Zumba instructor from the Cheshire Community YMCA. Registration is required.

1Introduction to Computers

Tuesday Feb 28, 2017, 2:00 PM

Join us to learn the basic computer skills including the different parts of a computer, how to use a mouse and keyboard, how to turn the computer on and off properly and how to navigate the desktop. This class is for individuals with little to no experience with computers. Registration is required.