In the face of COVID-19, many of the traditional forms of volunteering have become less attractive due to concerns over personal wellbeing, or have been cancelled altogether. The Ontario Ministry of Education has acknowledged these challenges by reducing the community involvement criterion from 40 hours to 20 hours for students graduating in 2021. They have also taken strides to make it easier for students to earn community involvement hours given the challenges related to COVID-19 by introducing added (and temporary) flexibility to what can be considered for hours this year.
The temporary changes include waiving a number of policy restrictions, as follows, at the principal’s discretion:
1. Schools may allow students to earn hours during the time allotted for the instructional program on a school day;
2. Schools may allow students to earn hours through duties normally performed in the home; and
3. Schools may allow students aged 14 years and older to count up to a maximum of 10 hours from paid employment towards their earned hours. Students counting paid employment towards their graduation requirement will be required to complete a reflection exercise indicating how their work contributed to the service for others.
For students still looking to earn their hours, without compromising on safety, there are still plenty of opportunities available – virtually! To help you discover these opportunities, we’ve compiled a list of resources you can search to find ones that fit your interests. We’ve also suggested some ideas of contact-less activities and projects to help you earn those all-important hours and make a difference in your local community.
Volunteer Your Time to People You Know:
- Shovel a neighbour’s drive or perform other outdoor household tasks
- Pick up &/ drop off groceries, mail, or other goods for a neighbour. Simply have them send their list through text, leave the goods at the door, then have them e-transfer you the total!
- Organize a clothing drive in your neighbourhood. You can design & distribute flyers; have neighbours leave their clothes in a sealed bag on their doorstep; wear gloves & arrange to drop them off at a local clothing donation bin)
- Tutor a family friend’s child online (your own sibling doesn’t count!) OR volunteer to tutor a randomly paired student through the Teens Give online tutoring program
- Take part in a virtual Pen Pal program! These initiatives are creative, rewarding, and entirely open-ended. Letters can be sent from anywhere in the world. The Dear PenPal Program sends letters to senior citizens in Ottawa, while the Caring and Connecting Pen Pal Initiative services LTC facilities throughout Peel Region.
These are just a few ideas! Think about the skills you have and who in your extended circle may benefit from your sharing. Are you musically inclined? Offer your time and expertise to someone less rhythmically-fortunate who’s looking to learn! Perhaps you’ve perfected to art of baking bread – congratulations on your culinary feat! Rather than simply sharing your recipe online, hop on your favourite video app and walk a friend through your baking process step-by-step! Or think big and plan a long-distance project.
As long as you have someone to confirm the time you’ve spent and you are not collecting any money for the service you provide, chances are it’ll work! Of course, we advise confirming with your guidance counsellor ahead of time to ensure the project you have in mind will meet the required criteria.
Full-time OVS students
Be sure to connect with [email protected] to obtain pre-approval of your activity.
Online Volunteer Opportunities:
*These sites list opportunities that service the listed regions. Many can be completed virtually from anywhere in the world!
For even more volunteer opportunities, check out the Toronto Public Library’s volunteer page.