Sudbury

Sudbury volunteer centre helping students to give back during the pandemic

For most students, the school year isn't complete without volunteering their time in the community, but COVID-19 has made community involvement unsafe in many situations.

Ontario high school students usually required to complete volunteer hours

The executive director of Volunteer Sudbury says although you can help in person, many volunteer opportunities are now online. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

For most students, the school year isn't complete without them volunteering their time in the community, but COVID-19 has made community involvement unsafe in many situations.

Some school boards are suspending the graduation requirement to complete 40 hours of community involvement. But they are encouraging students to complete their hours, if their health and safety can be assured.

A letter to parents from the province states it will be providing "virtual opportunities for students to volunteer during the summer."

A volunteer resource centre in Sudbury says it can help connect students with safe ways to volunteer.

Alanna LaHay, the executive director with the centre, says if students are looking for volunteer opportunities, they can visit the group's website.

"There, they can find volunteer opportunities in our community," she said. "They can directly apply to those positions there on our website."

LaHay says they mainly assist those in Sudbury, but says she has helped people across the region in the past find volunteer opportunities.

"If there is someone who is really having trouble across the north, they can reach out to us and we can see if we have any connections that we're able to send them," she said.

LaHay says many volunteer opportunities have shifted online.

Alanna LaHay is the executive director of Volunteer Sudbury. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

"For example, if you like to knit or crochet, you can do scarf making for the Réseau Access Network," she said. "The HSN mask challenge, they're looking for sewers to help them create masks."

She says other groups are looking for help with online promotion and marketing.

LaHay says the centre has seen a "huge increase" in people enquiring about volunteer opportunities, including requests from students.

"So that's why we're going to continue to work with agencies to hopefully develop opportunities to attain their hours," she said.

"Lending a helping hand — even if it is virtual or at a distance — can continue to help our community to grow. I definitely believe that people are feeling they want to give back and help those that need it."

With COVID-19 radically changing the way school runs, many students are wondering about completing their required community volunteer hours. We chat with a volunteer resource centre about the opportunities that still exist in our pandemic reality. 6:03

With files from Wendy Bird

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