Despite the restrictions required to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Shelly Wismath says there are still plenty of ways to celebrate and support National Volunteer Week from April 19 to 25.

Wismath, dean of the School of Liberal Education dean, has been integral to the uLethbridge partnership with Volunteer Lethbridge and she spends countless hours working with students and faculty to include volunteer work as a core part of the University curriculum. She offers these tips about how we can all give back while being at home.

1. Everyone’s situation is different right now, but the basic rule for giving back is to give what you can! The internet is buzzing with ideas for ways to give money, time, energy and compassion. The need for volunteers and for kindness is greater than ever during the pandemic crisis.

2. If you are fortunate enough to still be getting paid and are able to donate money, many organizations can use help. The Lethbridge and Interfaith Food Banks, local homeless shelters and the Student Emergency Bursary fund are all great causes right now. You can also support local businesses. For example, you can buy gift cards for yourself or others to use when things return to normal, to help keep local small businesses afloat while things are shut down.

3. Giving back doesn’t have to just mean financial support. You can give your time and energy to help out in your community. Check in on seniors, isolated, or at-risk neighbours, and keep connected to them with phone calls, emails, and doorstep drop offs of cards, letters or supplies. Put up signs in your windows or decorate with cheerful images or stuffed toys to cheer up those around you.

4. Share your talents. Make masks, knit supplies for shelters, bake for your neighbours, do online readings or music shows. If you have the expertise, offer to tutor school students who are struggling to keep up with remote learning.

5. People with small children who are also working from home have extra burdens during this time. You may not be able to offer childcare but you can help to keep someone’s children entertained remotely by reading stories or playing games via internet or by bringing them craft supplies.

Show us how you give back and make sure to tag #uLethCares on social media.