Covid-19 has turned our lives upside down. Faculty, staff, and students are working from our kitchen tables, some of us trying to help our children finish up their school year through “distance learning,” and all of us trying to maintain some sense of normalcy in our lives. While we are all unsure of how to make the best of the situation, one similarity among us has emerged — we want to help! We want to figure out what can be done to create some relief in lives of those around us — our friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, and even strangers.
As an administrator at the university, working in the Office of Community Service Learning (CSL), I have never been more aware of the value of community engagement. For decades, the University of Redlands has been preparing our students for this very situation. We have created an ethos that makes it the norm to “do good” in the world.
Clubs and organizations enthusiastically spend tens of thousands of hours each year, serving the larger Redlands community. Professors support their students as they travel the country and the world engaging with and providing sustenance and care to those who are the most vulnerable. Students across the university work tirelessly in nonprofit agencies across Southern California to earn their work award. And, of course, hundreds of students volunteer each year with our partnering agencies and schools through the many programs we run — such as Big Buddies, CHAMPS, Jasper’s Corner, and Roots and Shoots, to name a few. Alumni often look back on their volunteer experiences at the U of R with great fondness and regularly participate in service projects, even inviting our students to join them on occasion.
With all this preparation, it is no wonder that our alumni, staff, faculty, and students are feeling called to help during this crisis. Phone calls, emails, and messages on social media to the CSL office have been plentiful over the past few weeks, and the question is always the same — “What can I do?” We in CSL are so proud to receive these inquiries, and we can’t wait to get back to business so we can send Bulldogs out into the field once again to make a difference in the lives of others.
Until that moment comes, we have some suggestions for those who have been asking.
Get involved in University of Redlands projects
Donate to the Employee Emergency Fund by going to redlands.edu/givenow (highlight the designation “other” and list “Employee Emergency Fund”) or by writing a check to “University of Redlands” with “Employee Emergency Fund” in the memo and sending it to University of Redlands, Office of Advancement, 1200 E Colton Avenue, Box 3080, Redlands, CA 92373
- For alumni interested in connecting virtually with a fellow alumni to help support each other during this time, email email@example.com to be matched with another Bulldog
- Prepare, donate, serve lunches to local residents who are experiencing food shortages during this pandemic as part of a with Redlands Charitable Resource Coalition (RCRC)
- Volunteer with Redlands YMCA and RCRC as they provide showers and other hygiene related resources to local homeless; contact Craig Turley
- Volunteer to check on local seniors with the City of Redlands Never Alone project
- Donate canned or boxed non-perishable items to the Family Service Association of Redlands at 612 Lawton Street, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Suggested items include: instant oatmeal, pancake mix, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, instant potatoes, spaghetti sauce, spaghetti noodles, tuna, canned chicken, fruit, dried soup (such as Top Ramen or Cup of Noodle), rice, and beans. Volunteers will box up food and deliver it to families, the Boys and Girls Club, and Redlands Community Senior Center.
- Join the San Bernardino County Neighbor2Neighbor Response Team
- Visit the #Californiaforall website set up by the State of California to find ways to help in your local communities
- Make cloth masks to donate to medical professionals or local residents who may not be able afford or get access to masks otherwise
- Donate to or volunteer at local food banks
- Support small businesses
- Collaborate w/neighbors to check on the most vulnerable in your community
- Volunteer with a local Red Cross
- Donate blood
More opportunities are opening up every day, so keep an eye out for additions to this list on the Community Service Learning website.