Alexandria, VA – Amidst the uncertainty facing our communities, there are unsung heroes helping to make a difference in the lives of people in their neighborhoods. Volunteer Alexandria is working hard to get resources for those that needs a helping hand. In just one week, volunteers helped distributed over 20,000 grab n’ go meals! In one morning, 4,000 bags of food were distributed!
“Not everyone can work from home,” Marion Brunken, the Executive Director for Volunteer Alexandria, told The Zebra during a socially distant interview. “Volunteering right now helps those who aren’t privileged. Many people have lost their job or jobs, or are struggling going from paycheck to paycheck.”
The demand for resources like food and funds that help with rent relief are, unfortunately depleting at a rapid rate. Non-profits like Volunteer Alexandria are working quickly to update websites to help people get information on how they can help. Whether that is making a monetary donation, cooking meals at home as a family to deliver to shelters like Mondloch House, or collecting in-kind needs as a neighborhood to donate, there are many ways to volunteer!
“It really bonds you, when you see the clients getting what they need,” Brunken stated. “It helps you feel like you did something meaningful. You feel really good!”
Trying to think of creative ways to get out of feeling sad and get your mind off the news cycle? Virtually volunteer by signing up to make meals for those in need. Go out for a walk with gloves and a trash bag, then pick up litter in your neighborhood.
“Make your community beautiful and clean. Share and inspire others to donate their time and kindness,” encourages Brunken. “I always say volunteering is good for the body, mind and soul. It’s a good inexpensive medication!”
Volunteering during this time does require taking extra pre-cautions, which is being observed closely by Volunteer Alexandria. All volunteers are asked questions to make sure they are symptom free, asked to wear masks or bandanas at all times, and to keep the CDC recommended distance of 6 feet from other volunteers and staff. Temperature taking of volunteers will start on April 10. Due to guidelines, volunteers for on-site projects must be under 65 years of age.
Over 65 and craving to help out in some way? Get creative like volunteer Ivy!
“I was frustrated about how I could serve during this crisis … until I saw my sewing machine in the closet. I sent a note to Volunteer Alexandria that simply said, “I sew.” Before I knew it I had an order for masks. Using tea towels, items in my sewing basket, and patterns found online, I turned my dining room into a production line. As I handed over my first batch of masks, I was thinking how today’s technology merged with an old fashioned skill will hopefully keep people safer,” said Ivy.
Signing up for volunteer opportunities is easy! All you need to do is go to the Volunteer Alexandria website, make a profile and sign up for a project you’d like to help with. Email communication will be sent to you with more information. Please be flexible, non-profits are swamped at the moment, emails might take a little longer to get to you than usual.
“Just be kind,” says Brunken. “We are all trying to navigate this time.”