Virtual Volunteering

by Trent Miles

Engaging in community service offers students an opportunity to become active members of their community. It also has a lasting positive effect on society as a whole. Community service or volunteerism helps students improve their life skills and gain valuable experience, while providing critical services to those who need it most. As Richwoods High School transitioned to remote learning in August of this year, so did its student organizations. The school’s student community service groups have been particularly successful finding creative ways to stay active, even though many of their members cannot participate due to the pandemic.

Seniors Brianna Convington and Hannah Srinivasan have been making positive strides in their community through organizational clubs. Covington, co-founder of the Richwoods Climate Change Club, is an avid advocate for climate awareness. When asked, “What are you stressing to your club right now in regard to climate change?” She answered, “Not to be sidetracked by world events. We cannot lose focus of the task at hand. We need to engage with students and faculty about what’s going on and how to prevent further damage to the Earth.” Covington says she is planning more virtual activities throughout the rest of the year and hopes to spark a change in her school’s opinion about the climate crisis.

Srinivasan, executive board member of the Interact Club, is working tirelessly to provide opportunities for students to help their community. The club’s members are youth aged 12-18 who want to connect with others in their community or school. They have fun while carrying out service projects and learning about the world. As a response to asking about Interact Club’s potential activities and plans for the year, Srinivasan said, “Since we are in a pandemic, it is hard for us to plan activities for students—but we are still continuing to support and donate to organizations like Operation Christmas Child and Peoria Rotary Club. I believe everything we are doing is impacting individuals who show up to meetings and care about being a positive change.”

There is a lot of good that can come from connecting on the internet. Online volunteering encourages you to devote your time virtually and make a positive difference, even if you can’t volunteer at a physical location. Check out my list below to learn about a few different ways you can help!

  1. UN Volunteers: If you want to take your volunteering worldwide, this is the place to start. UNV needs those with skills in science, writing, painting, design, and more. They connect you with organizations working for peace and development. Over 12,000 volunteers from 187 nations are now contributing their skills to organizations across the globe. Find out more here: onlinevolunteering.org
  2. Translators Without Borders: Check out this nonprofit that blends language skills with humanitarian assistance for those fluent in more than one language. Volunteers provide foreign organizations with translations (10 million words a year!) that concentrate on disaster relief, health, and education. Find out more here: translatorswithoutborders.org
  3. DoSomething.org: DoSomething empowers young people both online and off to enact social reform. Volunteer online to help address real world challenges through one of their projects. Members of DoSomething have used the internet to effectively persuade Apple to diversify its emojis, urge style changes (ex., capitalizing “Black” when used in the context of race and culture), and create the first antibullying guide for crowdsourcing. Find out more here: DoSomething.org

About Trent Miles

Trent Miles is a rising senior at Richwoods High School and has been working for Big Picture Initiative since May 2020. He is academically competitive and a well rounded student. Trent is the co- founder of his Richwood’s climate action club, Vice President of the Minority Academic Advancement Project, and a varsity tennis player. Outside of school, he is involved in Jack and Jill of America, where he served as the Central Region Teen Vice President in 2018. In his chapter he served as Vice President, Legislative Chair and Foundation Chair. Trent also runs his own environmental blog called “EnviroWrite,” which is a youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns. He has won 1st place in a Regional Best Hobby Exhibits competition and two Regional Alexander Pushkin writing competitions. He has contributed more than 800 hours of community service through various service projects including a winter wear drive, collecting toiletries, and even an educational African-American museum.

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