Student Volunteers Lend a Helping Hand from Home

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Courtesy of Jada Ulep

One of Youth Action Team’s first at-home projects was an online summer volunteer camp that allowed YAT members to hear from other non-profits like Big Brother Big Sister and Hearts2Heroes and to assist them with other projects, like making care packages.

In the ongoing pandemic, traditional volunteering seems inaccessible with the implementation of social distancing. Several programs at Portola High have adjusted to fit the need for virtual volunteer opportunities.

One organization providing volunteer opportunities during the pandemic is Key Club, which aims to encourage leadership through service and volunteerism. Throughout first semester, they offered projects such as making posters for service workers, UNICEF math programs and movie nights with films that represent leadership. Treasurer and junior Elizabeth Chung said members must pay an annual membership fee of $12 in order to receive hours.

The effort and time put into service hour projects and opportunities impact others on a personal level.”

— Elizabeth Chung

“It isn’t just about receiving enough hours to stand out during the college application process,” Chung said. “It’s so much more than that. The effort and time put into service hour projects and opportunities impact others on a personal level.”

Youth Action Team (YAT) student representative and senior Jada Ulep has volunteered with the City of Irvine since she was in middle school and now works for them, spending her free time working on numerous fundraising projects and attending board meetings for the city. 

Ulep said her favorite online project so far has been the Helping Hands crafts, where volunteers put together learning materials for a local daycare. She also recommends newcomers try out Page Turners, a project in which volunteers read and discuss books to be added to the curriculum for younger students. 

“If there was one thing I’d let people know, it’s how easy it is to give back,” Ulep said. “There’s so much time that’s wasted in a day, and if you focus your energy on doing something little it can make such a big impact on everybody.” 

There’s so much time that’s wasted in a day, and if you focus your energy on doing something little it can make such a big impact on everybody.”

— Jada Ulep

Some of YAT’s online projects include making masks with FocusAir, making dog toys for the Irvine Animal Care Center and painting positivity rocks for the YAT succulent garden.  They also host a speaker series on Thursdays that features goal-setting sessions from programs like Dear Asian Youth

There are several programs such as these on campus and in Irvine that anyone can join. Points of Light is a great place to start for students looking to find current online volunteering options, as they provide a variety of opportunities for diverse issues students may be interested in. Even during these times when it may seem more difficult than previous years, it is still important to reach out to help the community and find issues that you are interested in, as there are many opportunities to get involved online to help those who may not be able to help themselves.