How to: Virtually Volunteer

By Amy Y. Li

One of the greatest joys of being a college student is having a plethora of volunteer opportunities available year-round. Even if COVID-19 may prevent us from lending a hand in person, there are still countless ways to give back virtually. While the email lists, activities fairs, and Harvard Serves Everywhere newsletters may feel overwhelming, we hope you eventually find an organization or two that you’re passionate about. Read this list for a few programs that are excited to welcome new members — and remember, this list is just a tiny fraction of what Harvard has to offer!

Phillips Brooks House Association

The Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) is the go-to hotspot for volunteer opportunities. It is an entirely student-run organization that allows you to give back to the greater Boston community in response to expressed needs. Mentor elementary students through Strong Women Strong Girls, teach English to recent adult immigrants through Chinatown ESL, spend time with the elderly through Alzheimer’s Buddies, or advocate through the Student Labor Action Movement. Here is the long list of all the opportunities available this semester virtually. We can all agree that online bingo with senior citizens is much more enjoyable than a physics pset.

Operation CORE

Operation CORE was created to support Boston Chinatown businesses and mentor high school students for college preparation in response to COVID-19. This organization aims to mitigate the damages caused by xenophobia and prejudice through financial relief. Families pay what they can afford for Operation CORE’s college preparation services, and the money is redirected to its Community Relief Fund. Operation CORE is looking for undergraduate students to volunteer as mentors, so sign up!

Harvard Undergraduates Raising Autism Awareness

Harvard Undergraduates Raising Autism Awareness, otherwise known as HURAA, is an organization that strives to increase awareness and build community in the autistic community in Boston. Undergraduate volunteers interact with members of the autistic community every Friday during “Friday Night Club” events, with various activities including playing Uno, singing karaoke, and coloring. All members and volunteers of HURAA enjoy catching up with one another.

Wave Learning Festival

Wave Learning Festival is another organization initiated as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It currently has over 10,000 members and offers more than 300 free courses and seminars covering a diverse range of topics, allowing middle and high school students more access to academic support and online resources while schools are closed. You can teach anything you are excited about, from a world language to biology to English. This is also a great way to enjoy a throwback to all your favorite subjects from when you were younger.

Whether you are a first-year student navigating all the available volunteering opportunities or a seasoned senior trying to find a new activity for your final year, we commend you for hoping to make your community a better place. As you can see, there’s something for everyone!

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