HARRISBURG – In honor of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Gov. Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf encouraged Pennsylvanians who are healthy and able to consider volunteering with a local food bank or other helping organization, as this time is creating an incredible strain on charitable organizations’ efforts.
Volunteer efforts to distribute meals and other life-sustaining services remain an essential activity, and residents who are able can assist local organizations with delivering services to their communities while also following necessary safety precautions.
“Martin Luther King Jr.’s life reminds of the importance of finding ways to be of service to one another, and that reminder rings especially true as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause many of our neighbors – many for the very first time – to struggle to make ends meet or put food on the table,” said Wolf.
“I encourage every Pennsylvanian who can to find a way to support a local food or other charitable organization, whether through in-person activities, virtual action or financial support.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, which is held annually on the third Monday of January, is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service.
Several options exist for individuals seeking volunteer opportunities in their areas, as well as organizations and agencies in need of volunteers.
Those looking for volunteer opportunities can connect with a volunteer hub directly to inquire about their needs. They can also get connected to nearby volunteer opportunities through PA 211 and refine their search by zip code, or can dial 211 or text their zip code to 898-211 to get assistance from a resource navigator.
Organizations in need of volunteers should connect with a volunteer hub directly to inquire about their needs. Organizations that would like to can offer a volunteer opportunity through PA 211 for providers and request that their agency listing be created or updated.
Charitable organizations are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance on keeping volunteer staff safe and are responsible for providing supervision, following their standard health and safety procedures and communicating essential information with all volunteers.
Prior to volunteering, it’s imperative that individuals perform a self-screen to ensure they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, like a cough, fever and shortness of breath.
“The commonwealth’s charitable organizations have navigated this pandemic with tremendous grace and tireless dedication to the safety of their staff, volunteers and Pennsylvanians in need,” said Frances Wolf. “There are many ways to get involved, and we encourage those who are healthy and able to find safe opportunities to give back to their community.”
Virtual volunteering opportunities also exist, such as:
- Hosting a virtual fundraiser
- Writing letters to COVID-19 patients, first responders, seniors, or residents of long-term-care facilities
- Participating in outdoor community clean-up events
- Organizing a clothing drive
- Training to be a Crisis Counselor for the Crisis Text Line
- Sharing information about your favorite nonprofit on social media
- Offering translation services to increase accessibility of nonprofit resources