Get involved: ways you can volunteer

Donald Thai, Staff Writer

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a limited amount of in-person volunteer opportunities. For example, many hospitals, like the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis and St. Paul, are not accepting volunteers anymore. Other organizations have transferred to an online platform, still offering students the choice to help their local communities. Searches on the internet offer a variety of virtual volunteer experiences. Beyond what can be found online, and there are many other volunteer resources that can be found at Eagan High School.

Whether you are a student in the National Honor Society or have a passion for helping out your community, there are many volunteer opportunities for you that are easy to get involved in.

One resource can be found at the counselors’ office. All counselors have a volunteer opportunities sheet that lists many organizations and their contact information. This includes Feed My Starving Children, Minnesota Children’s Museum, Minnesota Zoo, Wescott Library, and many other organizations in the areas surrounding Eagan. Apart from the opportunities listed on the sheet, Ms. Krohse, a counselor at Eagan High School, advises students “to check directly with organizations to see how COVID-19 is impacting their ability to take on volunteers.” From there, students should look deeper into organizations that they are passionate about and are “near and dear to their heart” to volunteer at.

The most prominent way to find volunteer opportunities at Eagan High School is through Eagan’s Interact Club. In previous years, Interact Club has offered many in-person volunteering opportunities throughout the year. This includes packing candy and notes for soldiers on Veterans Day, creating baby blankets for the local community, and many other fun activities. This year, almost all of their events have been held virtually, but they are still thriving. Students were able to take “Take-Home Kits” to create baby blankets and to pack candy for soldiers, returning their finished project to the Interact Club once they were finished.

Interact Club has continued to offer numerous volunteer experiences to students through Schoology and a website called Innerview. Through Innerview, students can track their activities and hours of volunteer experience. Innerview also allows students to sign-up for volunteer opportunities locally or around the world. Students have been able to select national volunteer opportunities that can be done on their own. These activities range from writing birthday cards to senior citizens living in care centers to making dog toys out of old t-shirts.

Many of the opportunities and activities this year have been organized by student leaders. A teacher adviser of the club, Mr. Wirsbinski, gives a lot of credit to the four co-presidents of the club for keeping the Interact Club very much alive: Colin Roberts, Ashley Rosser, Lydia Dawson, and Katie Warnke. Although Interact Club has been vastly different this year, Mr. Wirsbinski hopes to gather a big group of volunteers in the future when it is safe again. Interact Club is open to all students, and if any students want to join, they should send an email to Mr. Wirsbinski at william.wirsbinski@district196.org.

Without a doubt, the pandemic has affected numerous volunteering opportunities and organizations. Many organizations have taken an unprecedented approach to offer opportunities for high school students. In the future, there may be many more opportunities online, while in-person volunteering slowly returns to a norm. Although this pandemic has lessened the opportunities for students to volunteer, the impact of volunteering remains the same, if not more important.