We can all give back to our communities, even while under quarantine

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by Patrick Doyle, Staff Writer

As many people around the world are forced into quarantine due to the spread of COVID-19, a sentiment that I hear expressed quite often on social media is how boring isolation can be.

Even for students who are still enrolled full time in a now-online university, there are times where it seems like we’ve done all our school work, watched every show, played every game and now have nothing to do.

To everyone out there who feels this way, I have a suggestion for you: engage in community service.

I often think about how lucky I am to have a home to come back to as our city is forced to quarantine. I think about how lucky I am to live in an area where essential resources like food and water are just a short drive away. And I think about how lucky I am to feel safe enough to let myself fall asleep at night. 

There are a lot of places in the world where people don’t have some, or any, of these luxuries. There are even people in my own city who don’t have access to these luxuries. That’s why community service is especially important to me, and why I encourage everyone to get involved in helping others however they can. The simple act of trying to make life better for someone else shows that you appreciate what you have and want to give back.

You may be asking, “Community service? How can I do that while stuck at home? I don’t even do that when not in quarantine!” If this sounds like something you would ask, allow me to lay out some ideas for how you can give back without taking up too much of your time.

To be clear, I’m not trying to guilt-trip you for not using every free moment you have stuck at home to do something to help others. We all need some time to ourselves now and then, so it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to devote all of their time to community service. However, if you are one of those people who constantly finds themselves bored or without anything meaningful to do, community service can be a great option to give back.

One of my favorite options for at-home service is to write letters to children who are sick. If you have an envelope, stamps and paper, you can spend as little as half an hour or as long as you’d like writing nice little notes of encouragement to kids who may be hospitalized and scared. For more information on this, I recommend visiting cardsforhospitalizedkids.com, and make sure to read the few requirements they have before sending your letters. It’s a nice little crafty activity that you can do in small chunks at a time, and each letter you write will directly make someone smile.

If you have access to fabric, elastic and sewing materials, you can always make homemade masks to help people who don’t have access to an effective one. There are plenty of online tutorials covering how to do this, and it helps during the COVID-19 pandemic more than you may think. If you’re able to make masks, consider dropping them off at your local fire station, as they will sometimes distribute them to the community.

If you don’t have access to any materials like this, you can also sign up to tutor San Diego elementary school students through Zoom. For these young schoolchildren, the pandemic has turned their important early years of education upside down, so any help you can give them could alter the way they view different subjects in the future. If you think you could effectively tutor a child in reading, writing or math, consider signing up for this program. The google form is available here: https://bit.ly/2wOcWDz.

If you attend SDSU and feel you want to get more involved with community service but aren’t sure what else to do, consider attending the A.S. Community Service Commission, which meets weekly on Zoom Tuesdays at 11 a.m. It’s a great way to meet service-minded people and find out how to best help your community in your free time. More information can be found on the Associated Students website.

Whatever you choose to do when you’re not busy, just remember to stay safe and healthy. Although community service is incredibly important at a time like this, it’s not worth putting your health in serious jeopardy by going out right now. So for the time being, please consider these safer options for giving back.

Patrick Doyle is a freshman studying journalism and political science. Follow him @PatrickDoyle100.

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