Volunteer in Your Community

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 35 million people, including nearly 11 million children, lived in food insecure households. That number could rise to more than 50 million by the end of this year as people deal with unemployment, housing insecurity, lack of access to healthy foods, and other challenges related to the pandemic.

But you can help. Food banks across the world are in need of volunteers, due to increased demand and older volunteers staying safe and staying home. In a recent survey, 60 percent of food banks in Feeding America’s network shared that they are in need of volunteers this holiday season.

If you want to help support people in your community, connect with local organizations (like food banks!) that will continue to address the impacts of COVID-19 well into the new year.

Studies have also shown that volunteering is a predictor of better mental and physical health, self-esteem, and happiness on an individual level as well. That’s a win for everyone!

Use the resources below to find ways to support your community this month and throughout the coming year.

Interested in assisting neighbors who are experiencing food insecurity meet their needs?
Volunteer at your local food bank.

In Chicago?
Connect with our friends at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Looking for another way to advance the common good and make a difference in your community?
Search for United Way volunteer opportunities.

Prefer to volunteer virtually?
Check out Project Sunshine and make the world a brighter place for children facing medical challenges. There are several remote volunteer opportunities!

Artwork by Simone Noronha.

Connect With Your Local Mutual Aid Hub

Around the globe, communities have been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by creating hyper-local “mutual aid” networks. Volunteers find out what neighbors need—like a prescription pick up, groceries, or PPE—and organize to provide that service. At a time of economic hardship for many, this is a way for community members to go beyond financial contributions and take care of people’s needs directly.

Check out this map to find your community mutual aid hub and volunteer to help.

If there isn’t already a hub where you live, consider starting one yourself. Here’s a guide from ioby, an organization led by Obama Foundation Fellow Erin Barnes, with steps to set up a simple mutual aid system where you live.

Artwork by Martha A. Wade.

Support Local Black-Owned Businesses

Black-owned businesses are experiencing huge losses this year due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and shutting down at alarming rates. Studies show that African Americans have experienced the largest loss of business throughout the crisis, with some 41% of Black business owners shutting their doors.

Supporting Black-owned businesses can help close the racial wealth gap, create jobs, amplify Black voices, and strengthen communities.
You can ensure that your money has an even bigger impact in your community this holiday season by donating and shopping at Black-owned businesses and organizations.

Give Immediate Support:
Browse GoFundMe to identify Black-owned businesses in your community that have been impacted by COVID-19 and may need help at this time.

Hold Major Retailers (and Yourself!) Accountable:
The 15 Percent Pledge calls on major retailers to commit 15 percent of their shelf-space to Black-owned businesses. Sign the petition and make a commitment to increase representation and diversify your consumption.

Need holiday gifts for friends and family?
Discover Black-owned businesses you can support in your city or state through We Buy Black, Official Black Wall Street, or Support Black Owned. If you’re in Chicago, the City has partnered with the Chicago Urban League to create a list of Black-Owned businesses eager for your support. Etsy also has a list of Black-owned shops where you can find one-of-a kind creations.

Artwork by Liz Montague.

Check in on your Neighbors

Our elderly neighbors, and others who face increased risks from COVID-19, may also be dealing with severe social isolation. A lack of social connection can lead to major health issues—it can be as bad for you as smoking.

During this holiday season, we encourage you to safely check in on your neighbors— especially seniors who might be more isolated than usual due to COVID-19.

Haven’t met your neighbors yet?
Print these door hangers and leave them a neighborly note on their doors. Let them know who you are and that you’re willing to help them with tasks like shoveling snow or shopping for groceries.

Want to check in by phone?
Many Meals on Wheels chapters have phone reassurance services, which allow volunteers to call homebound or quarantined seniors for check-ins and greetings. Contact your local chapter to see if they offer this service or if there are other ways to volunteer.

Artwork by Jacqueline Alcántara.
Care challenge art series in collaboration with Godfrey Dadich Partners.

Stay inspired, stay engaged