Social Action In a Time of Social Distancing

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

May 7, 2020 by Julia McDermott

Throughout this whole pandemic, one question has remained steady in my mind: how can we serve the people who need it most, in a time of social distancing? At first, I imagined that due to a fear of COVID-19 and a need for isolation, volunteer service would take less of a priority across the country, however, further research proved it is quite the opposite. Beyond Canadian borders, more than ever, people are stepping up to fill the service need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, a group in Vancouver, called Covid Isolation Assistance, has come together to provide help through grocery deliveries and kind phone check-ins. For those that are left without any other options, these services lift a huge weight off their shoulders. And for those who just need a pick-me-up, it is only a call away. Covid Isolation Assistance is not the only example. People around the world are responding to the call for action. In the UK, according to the Guardian, over 500,000 people signed up to volunteer with the National Health Service and as many as 2.5 million volunteers will be tasked with helping to “deliver basic food and hygiene supplies to extremely vulnerable people”. Another example can be seen in higher rates of blood donations. After a slight dip when COVID-19 reached Canada, blood donations then spiked, so much so that appointment dates are booked up weeks, if not months in advance. People are also giving their time and skills to create a positive effect. ABC News reports that Jackie Li, a high school student in the United States, “put his programming skills to work” and designed a website to assist in the collection of donated medical supplies. His site has already gained traction with “over 119,000 donations”. All of these acts of generosity have created a sense of community throughout this crisis. Beyond your traditional service endeavours, it is now, more than ever, very important to spread positivity. For example, you might have seen on your YouTube recommendations feed, a video series by John Krasinski titled SGN, or Some Good News. Here, Krasinski highlights some of the week's best news stories that are often passed over because of Covid updates. One of the best stories was of a 15-year-old girl from California. She had just completed her final chemotherapy treatment and, despite COVID-19, was greeted with a social-distancing party in the form of a parade of cars as she reached home. Despite our world being in a crisis, people have not given up on helping others and perhaps, this kindness has only strengthened since the beginning of the pandemic. One of the best ways to give time and energy, is to simply stay home. However, it is so very important to take the time to thank the healthcare workers and first responders who are risking their lives to do their jobs. What can be seen, is an overwhelming positive response to a dire situation that hopefully can be looked back upon as the silver lining of this pandemic. Perhaps, we can rethink how we serve others in the future and make it more of a priority.

Julia McDermott ('21) is a Senior Editor at SPR, and a SMUS Service Council head for the upcoming year.

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