Health Watch: Spirit of volunteerism grows across America amid pandemic

Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 7:03 PM AKST
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NEW YORK, NY (KTVF) – Rising unemployment and hunger in the U.S. have put a strain on many Americans, but it’s also had an unexpected side effect. The pandemic has given rise to a new spirit of volunteerism.

Lifelong volunteer Beth Albrecht is teaching her young children the importance of giving back. Her eight-year-old daughter Fawn says, “I like helping out because it makes me feel like I’m showing compassion and being kind.”

As part of the community organization LA Works, the Albrechts donated school supplies to children and blankets to the homeless. “Kids are really exposed now to the challenges that everyone has been going through, and knowing that, you know, while it’s ok for us, we know that other people are struggling,” says Beth.

Volunteer organization New York Cares says its numbers have doubled in the last year. “People are both looking to find purpose in this moment because volunteerism helps each of us feel like we’re connected to the community and the world around us,” says Gary Bagley, the Executive Director of New York Cares.

Giving back is also good for your health. Research shows volunteering helps people stay physically and mentally active. It can also decrease depression, stress levels, and even help you live longer.

With many older volunteers unable to participate right now because of COVID risk, organizations say younger volunteers are stepping up. Medical assistant Taylor Blythe joined NYC COVID Sitters, babysitting for health care workers that lost their childcare. “A lot of us just have all this free time and energy that we want to spend, and we realize that helping others during a time when people really need it is a great way to maybe direct that energy,” Taylor says.

A new generation lending a hand at a time when everyone could use one.

Volunteer organizations say the largest growing need in the U.S. is hunger. If you’d like to help, you can start by donating or volunteering at your local food bank.

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