NanCao VolunteerfromHome Final 5b30a

Don't let the pandemic (or your tight budget) dampen your giving spirit. By pairing up with any of these five organizations looking for remote volunteers, you can pay it forward without actually paying a thing or even leaving the house—except, perhaps, a trip to the post office.

Make a Mark

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Based in Chicago, Liberation Library (liberationlib.com) sends free books to teens in Illinois detention centers. Recipients choose from a diverse library of literature, and get a personalized note and handmade bookmark, too. Pop over to the group’s Instagram for inspo (like gorgeous watercolor prints and ink-drawn animals), then craft some awesome placeholders (on plain paper with no stickers, glitter, or 3D elements) of your own.

Pen Pal

Jacob Cramer launched Love for Our Elders (loveforourelders.org) at age 13 when he started writing letters to seniors to let them know someone cared. Write down a joke, share a story, or simply send a little love, and snail mail your handwritten letter to the nonprofit’s P.O. Box to be delivered to an elder. Or record a 30-second video message (send to the org’s Instagram, @loveforourelders, or Facebook account) to boost a senior’s spirits.

Support Group

Mail in bras (new or gently used) and menstrual products to I Support the Girls (isupportthegirls.org), a nonprofit that redistributes these much-needed items to homeless and domestic violence shelters, disaster relief centers, and more. You can even host a remote drive (maxi pads, new undies, and sports bras are currently the most-needed items) and get your friends in on the action.

Crisis Management

Are you a night owl or early riser? Train to be a Crisis Text Line counselor (crisistextline.org) during those critical times when a supportive listening partner is crucial for someone who’s really going through it. Free training and real-time supervised support means you’re never flying solo.

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Code Breakers

Girls Who Code (girlswhocode.com) offers free after-school coding clubs and classes for young women, particularly historically underrepresented groups in tech, now in pandemic- friendly virtual formats. Start a new online club for 3rd to 12th graders with expert curriculum, or apply as a facilitator for an existing group. No prior experience is needed. – Jennifer Chen

Illustrated by Nan Cao

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