Volunteers step up during COVID-19 pandemic

Volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic looks quite different than normal, but it doesn’t mean that people aren’t offering their time for others- now it may be in a different way.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — April celebrates National Volunteer Month, recognizing the importance of volunteers in a community and to encourage even more people to start volunteering.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, giving your time may look a little different but a local organization is helping streamline the efforts.

211 Helpline Call Center, Courtesy Facebook

211 Helpline Call Center, Courtesy Facebook

The 211 helpline is helping volunteers serve others. They are a 24/7 platform that connects people in need to resources and they also connect volunteers to opportunities by sending out weekly opportunities via email.

During the pandemic, the demand for basic needs like food is elevated.  211 highlights organizations that are still taking volunteers during the pandemic like Feeding South Dakota, which needs food box packers and Meals on Wheels, which needs food preppers and deliverers.

Feeding South Dakota

211 is also offering more projects that people can do at home to help others, like organizing Do-it-yourself kits (DIY), – including laundry kits, get well or first aid kits, just to name a few as well as making face masks.

Audrey Nordine, 211 Helpline Black Hills Area Coordinator, says, “And these are kits that if you have materials at your home, or if you want to go out and do your grocery shopping, run to the dollar store, to just grab a couple of the items to put together kits.”

Hygiene Kit, DIY Project

Hygiene Kits, DIY Project

Then 211 will direct you where to take the kits.

Nordine says there is a lot you can do from home to reach out to others.

“I think one thing with volunteering is that sometimes we feel like we have to be in a place or around a group of people at the location, but you really just volunteer on your own,” Nordine says. “Whether that’s helping neighboring, calling a senior care center or a community support provider like Black Hills Works, maybe there is someone that could just use a nice conversation and someone to talk to. The areas of those vulnerable populations that are especially isolated from the community.”

Karla Mitzel prepares food at Calvary Lutheran Church as a part of the hospitality team and now that services are canceled, she is finding other ways to give back, like cooking and delivering food for Meals on Wheels, WAVI and the Cornerstone Rescue Mission. She considers it just doing her part as an involved community member and fulfilling her love for serving others.

Karla Mitzel volunteering

Karla Mitzel volunteering, Courtesy Calvary Lutheran Church

Mitzel, Area volunteer, says what she loves most is lending a hand up, “Helping the people, it’s like they are just all so appreciative when you get something for them – that everyone is grateful.”

Normally the 211 Helpline hosts a Spirit of Volunteerism Awards Banquet that honors volunteers and groups, but will not be able to host this year.

Audrey says that they will be be recognizing those people and organizations virtually instead.

Click here for the link to sign up for weekly volunteer notifications.


Categories: Local News, South Dakota News