Opinion | Donate time, not just money

Organizations dedicated to helping others aren’t just strapped for cash because of the pandemic, they’re strapped for labor — something we can all help out with.


Signe Nettum, Opinions Columnist

In my experience, the easiest way to help others, and to do so by proxy of assisting organizations helping others, is donating money. But sometimes, a more hands-on approach better — and that time is certainly now.

Habitat for Humanity  helps build and improve housing for individuals, families, and communities in need. With his former fraternity, my boyfriend helped build a kitchen in Iowa City.

Iowa City Hospice Care has many volunteers that interact with patients and their needs, including pet care and documenting their stories. My mother performed 11th Hour services, where she sat with patients close to death to comfort them in their final hours while their family slept.

Even the university’s own Circle K hosts pancake breakfasts with donations to support March of Dimes, a non-profit that supports babies and those who give birth to them.

These events, however, were put on hold due to COVID-19. At least, for a while until precautions were put in place. Even then, not all could continue. My mother always dreads the phone call, explaining that one of the patients she used to visit during the day once a week passed away, and she was not there to help with their final hours.

COVID-19 has impacted many organizations in different ways. Some had to strip their organizations down to the bare bones to comply with CDC guidelines on how many people can be in one place. Others have had to pause their programs due to their physical proximity. Many have resorted to basic monetary donations, instead of the hands-on they used to host before COVID-19.

So for a while, non-monetary aid paused, as many volunteers sheltered in place. No more community service where groups of people would gather to help others. COVID-19 and the perils surrounding it became too big and scary to handle back in March.

However, now in November, many have developed plans to bring people back. Circle K has hosted virtual get-togethers with senior living associations. The National Honors Society gathered more than 750,000 to help with transporting medications, driving people to their appointments, or talking to those in isolation.

Volunteering does not need to stop due to COVID-19. There are ways to help while still taking preventative measures.

Even something as simple as adopting a highway is a volunteering event. Twice a year, my family and parts of our extended family go out to a stretch of highway in my grandfather’s name, and clean up the garbage thrown into the ditches from unruly drivers. With COVID-19 changing things up, instead of mingling like we used to, we had two families go, one on each side, and clean their respective ditch. While not everyone in the family could help, it still got done. Instead of shrugging, sighing, and giving up, we adapted.

There are many websites that are set up to help iowans on where to volunteer during COVID-19. This pandemic cannot stop us from helping others. Because that’s who we are as humans. We help our communities to strengthen our bond with others.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.