Photo courtesy of Tessa Bianchi

Volunteering during a pandemic

Students continue to serve, despite COVID-19 limits

It was a summer day and junior Tessa Bianchi and her family were delivering sandwiches through Caring and Sharing Hands. As they were pulling up to St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Mendota Heights, there was a little kid that said she didn’t like turkey sandwiches so Bianchi and her family made a peanut butter sandwich for that little girl every week. They eventually brought all the kids peanut butter sandwiches. “It was fun to see them get all excited about [them],” said Bianchi.

Helping the community by volunteering looks a lot different these days than it did even a year ago because of COVID-19. People’s needs are still present and making sure they are met is important, however, non profit organizations are reporting larger needs but with less help. According to a study done by Fidelity Charitable, the New York Times reported that “two-thirds of all volunteers had either decreased or stopped their volunteering because of the pandemic.”

All students will be participating in virtual Cultural Field Experience (CFE) projects this year with their advisory. 

“There’s a lot of doors that have opened to creative ways of serving that I think normally wouldn’t be an option,” said Cultural Immersion Director Jessa Anderson. “I think that this year has given the opportunity for students to really take ownership and say we’re really excited about this or we really love working with kids so as a group, let’s come up with this idea or project.”

People across the globe are experiencing troubling and uncertain feelings during the pandemic. Recognizing this and acting in a way that can help, is only beneficial.

“There’s so many needs still that need to be met, a lot of people that still need to be interacted with and be in relationships and people that are in isolation that need to just have other people to talk to,” said Anderson.

Minnehaha students will have the chance to participate in helping the community through projects that the service interns, students that put together opportunities for other students to serve, are setting up. In November, they hosted a food drive for local food shelves. After Thanksgiving until Christmas, students can participate in Neighbor’s Adopt-A-Family Holiday Gift Program. Students can be paired with a child and drop their gift off at the Upper School between December 7-11th. These are just a couple ways that serving can happen during the season of COVID-19. 

“We have a bunch of really exciting projects coming up. We’ve been working on coming up with the angel tree…for Christmas and now that we are going online it’s going to be a lot tougher, but we’re still going to pull it off,” said Bianchi, a service intern for the 2020-21 school year.

The Neighbor’s Adopt-A-Family Holiday Gift Program is a “virtual Christmas tree where you’re able to sponsor/adopt a family for their different present needs,” said senior service intern Arielle Pickerign.

“A lot of sites that have in person volunteers have lost volunteers due to COVID because it’s just a higher risk population that can’t be in person and serving,” said Anderson.

COVID-19 has made virtual volunteering the main method used by organizations.

“I’ve been able to do some things with donations online and making food packages for people to send out,” said Bianchi.

There are still many ways to get involved in service during this time. Whether students donate or participate virtually, they will still make a difference in many people’s lives.


About Jordan Erickson

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