We’re already well into February, which means Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This particular holiday is undeniably divisive. Some people embrace the opportunity to go into full-on romantic mode with their significant other.
The singles among us, meanwhile, may choose to celebrate with friends (Galentine’s Day, anyone?) or hop on an app to find a date for the occasion. And still others take pride in ignoring it altogether!
But no matter your V-Day tradition, this year will likely be different. With limited opportunities for social contact, meeting up with friends or a date may not be an option.
Luckily, there are other ways to spread the love at this time of year. If you've got time and good vibes to spare, consider some of these volunteering opportunities:
1. Put a smile on someone’s face
It’s no secret that senior members of our communities are likely to suffer from loneliness and depression in the best of times—and the pandemic has only exacerbated this problem. Since older people are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19, their social activities have (for the most part) come to a standstill, with senior centers closed and family gatherings at a minimum. Comedians on Call is bringing laughs to isolated seniors around the country by connecting them with comedians and improv artists over the phone. So if your pre-pandemic life involved moonlighting on the standup scene or taking improv classes, then this might be the volunteer opportunity for you!
2. Drive someone to a vaccine appointment
The COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out across the country, but not everyone has the means to get to their vaccine appointment. For many people in high-risk groups, taking public transportation may be unthinkable—so getting a vaccine requires a car or money for a taxi. But if you have access to a vehicle, then you can help drive someone to their vaccine appointment. Check Idealist for volunteer opportunities near you.
3. Help students get top-quality education
Remote learning comes with a unique set of challenges. With the brick-and-mortar school setting currently unavailable for many, the impact of social inequities on education are becoming more obvious than ever. While students theoretically have equal access to resources in a physical school building, home settings can only go so far—and some students deal with unreliable internet connections and slow computers, or struggle with learning disabilities that may pose obstacles to remote learning. Consider volunteering at an organization like Pandemic Professors or Science Nation, which help students take back control of their learning by providing flexible, free tutoring options.
4. Lend a listening ear
With people across the country struggling with job loss, income crunches, and adjusting to a “new normal” it’s no wonder that depression and anxiety rates have gone through the roof. And when times get especially tough, people need an extra dose of empathy and understanding—even if it comes from a stranger. Crisis hotlines are helping to manage the increase in mental health emergencies. If you’re in a space to give support, you may consider becoming a crisis hotline volunteer yourself. Visit Idealist’s volunteer postings to see what opportunities are currently available.
While you may find yourself distanced from loved ones this Valentine’s Day, there are still plenty of opportunities to show others that you care. Volunteering with organizations like the ones above is a surefire way to spread the “warm and fuzzies” when hugs aren’t an option.
Don’t forget to show yourself some love at this time of year too! Check out our self-care guide for job-seekers.
I believe in the power of good organizations to improve health, stability, and economic development around the world. For more than 10 years, I've been working with nonprofits and NGOs in the global health space to develop engaging, public-facing content and cohesive communications strategies. As an editor at Idealist Careers, I'm happy to offer actionable advice to social-impact professionals at all points in their careers.