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Volunteering Safely in the Time of COVID-19

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Recently, Pennsylvania First Lady Frances Wolf encouraged Pennsylvania residents to continue assisting local community organizations, if they are able. Volunteers help provide essential activities, assisting those in need with food, shelter, education, and other necessities. Several options are available for individuals who are looking for ways to serve their communities in this time.

Serve from Home

Just like many businesses are working remotely, some community organizations are continuing to serve their clients over the phone or through the internet. 

You may be able to tutor a child over video chat, answer questions for small business owners over the phone, or contact people who are homebound to chat. You can also donate to organizations and provide essential financial support to help them continue serving those in need. If you are over the age of 65 or have underlying medical conditions, it is best for you to stay home and consider a task that you could do remotely. 

Safety First 

Non-profit organizations that provide food, shelter, transportation to medical appointments, and other essentials for people in need are considered life-sustaining. If you are not at high risk for COVID-19, you could consider assisting a non-profit with some of these in-person tasks. Before volunteering, all volunteers must check themselves to make sure they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, like a cough, fever, and shortness of breath. 

Volunteers should practice the simple yet effective steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19: washing hands frequently, keeping 6 feet of distance from other people, cleaning surfaces frequently, avoiding touching your face, and wearing a cloth face covering in public.  

Bringing Food to People in Need

As many members of our community are faced with job loss or reduced hours, they may have trouble affording food. Many local food pantries are continuing to provide food, often using pre-packed bags or boxes in a drive-through format.  

You can ask your local food pantry if they need volunteers. Many food pantries are no longer taking food donations for safety reasons, but will welcome monetary donations. Central Pennsylvania Food Bank helps provide food to our local food pantries, and they are taking special precautions to protect volunteers who pack food at their warehouse. If you would like to help pack food, visit their website here: https://www.centralpafoodbank.org/covid-19. 

Helping Healthcare Workers

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health has adequate supplies to protect our patients and staff; however, we are gratefully accepting community donations to help mitigate needs we may have in the future.  

A community drive-through COVID-19 Donation and Materials Center is in operation at Clipper Magazine Stadium, 650 N. Prince Street, every day from 7am – 6pm until further notice.  We are accepting medical-grade masks, other medical protective equipment, and cleaning products.  For a list of items you can donate, click here.

Staying Updated on Community Needs

Throughout the year, the United Way of Lancaster County helps connect volunteers with needs in our community. They have started a special program for matching healthy volunteers with community organizations in Lancaster County during the COVID-19 outbreak. You can visit the United Way Volunteer Center at https://uwlanc.galaxydigital.com and click on Coronavirus Action Team to learn more.

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Brenda Buescher, MPH

Brenda Buescher, MPH, is a Health Promotion Specialist in Community Health and Wellness. Brenda coordinates community initiatives to promote healthy eating and physical activity. She holds a master’s degree in health behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Call: 717-544-3138

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.

 

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