Distance volunteering activities to try


photo by Josh Kim

A student is reading to younger children over a virtual call. Since volunteering opportunities are limited due to COVID-19, students are finding creative ways to help their community through programs like Reading Partners and Vogel Alcove, both of which validate service hours.

With COVID-19 still sweeping the globe, volunteering is more needed than ever. Whether it is for college applications, resume-building or out of simple good will, many students may be lost when it comes to distance volunteering. Luckily, there are more people in need all around us than before, and there’s a myriad of ways you can improve your community (with a little boost to your resume).


With so many students learning online, educational loss is a huge concern, especially for younger children. If you want to help kids with learning to read through Zoom or Google meets calls, Reading partners is the perfect match with their easy-to-follow model for helping kids achieve literacy. If English is not your forte, but you prefer an academic arena, tutor children of front-line workers and healthcare providers with school work through Telementors. True to its name, this organization encourages the volunteers to also mentor and encourage students they are paired with for a longer period of time. Reading partners and Telementors both validate service hours. 


Those linguistically or artistically inclined will love letter-writing as a way to volunteer.  You can write letters expressing gratitude to veterans through Operation Gratitude or encouraging people struggling with mental illness through Letters Against Depression. Operation Gratitude does not offer service hours for letter-writing, but Letters Against Depression does.


Recording yourself reading children’s books is the perfect volunteer opportunity for performers or future film producers. Vogel Alcove encourages theatrics, production value and sound effects in these videos that bring joy to homeless children. Vogel Alcove validates service hours upon request.


The nature of an election year along with the abnormal events of 2020 has brought activism to the forefront of many teen’s minds. You can help identify supporters, help raise funds and persuade voters for various different campaigns safely from home with phone banking opportunities, whether you’re left-leaning or right-leaning


Bilingual students should consider volunteering with the United Nations by translating documents and providing captions for videos. They have a need for a range of languages, from French to Korean to Urdu. However, all volunteers need to be 18 years old or older.


Transcribe Smithsonian is the perfect volunteer opportunity for history nerds. Through this program, you can work with other virtual volunteers to digitally transcribe a text from the Smithsonian’s collection for public access. Volunteers get to interact with artistic, historical and scientific material. A report of your volunteer work with times and dates is accessible through your account. 


High schoolers with a passion for performing arts can mentor a member of North Texas Performing Arts Center’s Starcatchers, a special needs performing troupe that puts on shows, ranging from musical theater to rock shows. The Starcatchers are performing virtually, and accepting Performing Partners to ensure that their show goes on. Starcatchers validates service hours upon request.


This year has greatly tested students’ morale and sense of connectivity, and while life as society knew it can’t continue yet, volunteering can still make a difference — even if it is through a screen.