A season of need

Here are some ways to give during an especially difficult winter

Emily DiSalvo, Arts and Life Editor

If you find yourself wondering if there’s anything you need this holiday season — stop right there. Your loving family and friends will surely find you the right gift. 

But chances are, if you can’t think of anything that you need offhand like food, clothing or access to healthcare, you are probably in a good place to give back this holiday season. There are many local charities and causes that are collecting food, toys, clothing and donations as well as recruiting volunteers to help the influx of people who are short on money and spirits during the holidays due to COVID-19 and the resulting financial crisis. 

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1. Support the Connecticut Food Bank: The Connecticut Food Bank is a non-profit organization based out of Wallingford — just a short drive from Quinnipiac. But you don’t need to be near campus to help out. The food bank has nearly 500 access points around the state in need of volunteers to help sort and distribute food. If you aren’t able to go in person, the Connecticut Food Bank is in need of monetary donations as well.

2. Donate your old clothes: St. Vincent de Paul is a homeless shelter, food pantry and soup kitchen in Middletown, Connecticut. Anyone can request St. Vincent de Paul labels to include with donations to Goodwill. For every donation to partnering Goodwill stores with a St. Vincent de Paul label attached, 15 cents will be donated back to the shelter. The money raised will fund clothing vouchers, which allow those in need to shop with dignity. In order to request some St. Vincent de Paul labels for your bags of old clothes, visit https://svdmiddletown.org/middletowns-community-clothing-program-mccp/.

3. Volunteer to be a substitute teacher: If you are going to be home for most of January or even the whole spring semester as a virtual-only student, use your free time to help your local school district. Many districts are unable to reopen because they are short-staffed. Some teachers have to stay home because they don’t have childcare or because they have been contact traced, but they can still teach from their homes online . Districts are hiring college students to supervise the classroom in person while teachers instruct virtually. This is an easy way to make money and help local kids get some in-person educational time. Sign up to sub through the state of Connecticut here: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Help-Others or contact your local school district directly.

4. Become a pen pal for a senior citizen: Senior citizens living in assisted-living communities and nursing homes are isolated now more than ever due to COVID-19 visitation restrictions. Many nursing homes across the country have set up pen pal programs. You can sign up to be paired with a senior and the two of you can communicate via old fashioned snail mail. It’s a great way to brighten their days and to have some fun. To start, reach out to nursing homes near you to see if they have a program. Here are some links to other nursing homes that have established programs.

    1. https://villageconcepts.com/become-a-pen-pal-to-help-seniors-combat-loneliness-heres-how-to-get-started/
    2. https://www.phinneycenter.org/pen-pal/
    3. https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nc/coastal/news/2020/06/27/north-carolina-seniors-want-pen-pals-

5. Tutor a local elementary school student: Students of all ages are struggling with virtual school, but elementary students are being challenged by staying focused and productive during remote learning. Reach out to neighbors or acquaintances to ask if you may be able to tutor the students while their parents are busy working. 

6. Go grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor: Many people who are considered elderly or at high risk due to COVID-19 might feel uncomfortable going to the grocery store. Volunteer to shop for them or to help them put in a Peapod order. Many organizations like Comfort Keepers are hiring grocery shoppers. 

These are easy and painless ways to give back to your community during a time when so many people are in need, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Any way you decide to help is amazing and beneficial.