“Volunteers are the heart and soul of Operation Gratitude,” says Danielle Teconi, the organization’s communications director.
“Anyone, from anywhere, can participate from home, as it’s self-guided and self-paced,” she explains.
As an added perk, eligible purchases made through the organization’s wish list will kick back a small donation to the charity.
For crafty volunteers, Operation Gratitude also offers a step-by-step guide on how to make eye-catching letters of gratitude for military personnel and essential workers.
And, for those who sew, volunteers can lend their talents on MLK Day to create knitted crafts as a part of the organization’s Hand Made with Love initiative. Soft keepsakes like crochet hats, scarves and handmade bags can cheer up deployed troops when home feels far away.
Teaching and learning opportunities
Helping to sustain life
At a time when so many people are in pain, you can sustain life.
Another way to help sustain life on MLK Day is by volunteering to become a bone marrow donor with Be The Match. Bone marrow donations can save the lives of individuals battling blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, as well as blood disorders like sickle cell disease. Be The Match has an urgent plea for donations from communities of color—especially Black and African-American individuals. Of the organization’s more than 22 million member registry, only 4% identify as Black or African American.
Due to the lack of representation, Be The Match says Black and African American patients are among the least likely to find a match. According to Kate McDermott, a public relations specialist at the organization, Black and African-American people only have a 23% chance of finding a suitable donor.
“That number is unacceptable to us. We want to make sure that all of our patients regardless of ethnic background are able to find the match that they need,” she tells CNN. “Our mission is equal outcomes for all.”
To encourage life-saving donations, Be The Match says it has created the Race Against Time campaign to urge communities of color to come forward to help sustain lives of color impacted by blood-related diseases.
“Just as the Virtual Senior Center offers emotional and physical health benefits to participants, volunteer facilitators become part of our community and learn from our clients as well,” says Sandy Myers from Selfhelp Community Services. “We’ve learned the importance of strong online communities and are grateful for the work of our volunteers to make the VSC a vibrant community, especially throughout Covid.”
Although based in New York, Selfhelp’s virtual senior center is growing nationally. The team welcomes volunteers and senior students from across the country. And if individuals are interested in learning how to bring a virtual senior center to their neighborhood, Selfhelp can help.