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story.lead_photo.caption Whether it's helping a turtle cross the road or transcribing documents for Project Gutenberg, there are plenty of ways even now to volunteer for good. (File Photo)

One of the best ways to distract yourself from a problem is to help someone else with theirs. Volunteering is a vital public service, but so many organizations are closed, and staying home has become a sort of volunteer anthem nowadays. We can help the world by reducing the spread of coronavirus, but did you know there are still opportunities to volunteer? If you have the time and inclination, give virtual volunteering a try!

You can search for options targeted to alleviating covid-19 using a large database like VolunteerMatch.org/covid19. They have volunteer positions such as mentoring, marketing, fundraising and more that can be done online. You might help fight Alzheimer's or assist school children displaced by shutdowns. Volunteer Match allows you to search for local or state opportunities as well as broader positions with large organizations like the Red Cross.

Smithsonian Institute also encourages online volunteering at transcription.si.edu. Their website invites you to "join 18,586 "volunpeers" to add more to the total 539,181 pages of field notes, diaries, ledgers, logbooks, currency proof sheets, photo albums, manuscripts, biodiversity specimens labels that have been collaboratively transcribed and reviewed since June 2013." Transcription is important to make materials accessible and searchable online, using the Smithsonian's database or large search engines like Google.

DoSomething.org offers a list of nine websites that post virtual volunteering opportunities that sound awesome and impactful. Here's just a small sampling of what you might find there, from an article created by Jackie Menjivar: Work for peace and international development with the United Nations, write thank-you notes for nonprofits, translate documents for humanitarian aid with Translators Without Borders, support those in crisis through text messaging, be a digital decoder of human rights violations for Amnesty International, transcribe books for Project Gutenberg and more! Another website mentioned is Zooniverse, which offers a plethora of research positions related to science, literature, history and other fields.

With or without a computer, probably the best way to make ripples right now is to be alert. There may be a neighbor, friend or family member who needs help. Maybe you'll notice a turtle crossing the street and help it migrate safely in the direction it's going. Just being aware of the latest health recommendations can keep you and others safer during coronavirus, so adapting to new guidelines is "doing your part," too!

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at www.RipplesBlog.org.

NAN What's Up on 05/10/2020

Print Headline: Volunteers Still Essential

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