April is National Volunteer Month, and there’s no better time to lend a helping hand than in the middle of a pandemic. While social distancing makes it difficult to gather in person to help the community, there are many organizations and community centers taking donations. 

The Damien Center, a nonprofit which primarily caters to the HIV-positive population in Indianapolis and provides STD testing, needs donations for its food pantries, one specifically for HIV-positive clients and another pantry open to the entire community. 

According to Ashley Jackson, the food pantry coordinator, they are most in need of toilet paper and disinfecting wipes. 

The United Way of Central Indiana offers various ways for Hoosiers to help out while staying safe.

“We are recommending that the public follow the Governor’s order to stay at home and participate in virtual volunteer opportunities and donation-based options,” Jennifer Hashem, public relations manager at United Way, stated by email. “But we still have in-person opportunities available. For those who decide they want to volunteer in-person, we continue to encourage they follow the CDC’s recommendations of social distancing, being mindful of gatherings beyond 10 people, and only doing so if they feel healthy and well.”

Among the options available for volunteers, United Way recommends volunteering for food delivery service, including a delivery service specifically for health care workers throughout the city. 

To help curb loneliness during isolation, several organizations, such as CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions, are looking for volunteers to call elderly and disabled individuals who live alone to make sure they stay connected with other people. 

While National Volunteer Month falls in April, there will be plenty of work to be done when the stay-in-place order is lifted. According to Feeding America, an estimated 4.1 million additional people around the country will need food pantry services by the end of 2020. Volunteers will be needed more than ever. 

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

Help wanted! 

For more ways to volunteer, visit uwci.org

To learn more about donating to the Damien Center, email Ashley Jackson at ajackson@damien.org.

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