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Social Service and Generosity While Social Distancing: How to Make a Community Impact While Staying Home

By April 20, 2020February 16th, 2023Community Volunteerism
A hand coloring a picture with crayons.

You might have read that title and scratched your head. How is it possible to serve and practice generosity while physically distancing yourself?

As an extrovert and someone whose role at work is to organize community engagement activities for the Blue Crew, Independence’s corporate volunteer program, these past few weeks have been very difficult. To keep our associates and their families safe we’ve had to cancel our participation in dozens of volunteer opportunities throughout the community. Our nonprofit partners understood, but those were tough calls to make.

Committed to Giving Back

Our corporate culture is one of caring and service to the community, and our associates are passionate about volunteering their time and talents. While our associates understand the necessity of physically distancing themselves from others during this difficult time, they remain committed to making an impact in the community and continue to seek ways to give back to those in need.

While the Blue Crew is unable to physically volunteer at events at the moment, we continue to support some of our nonprofit partners. The Blue Crew is still providing meals from commercial kitchens so the families staying at Hope Lodge, the Gift of Life House, and the regional Ronald McDonald Houses (Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware) have quick and easy access to breakfast and dinner options. It’s important that these families, who may have immunocompromised members, don’t go out for meals. As long as these locations stay open and have a need, we are honoring our commitment to provide meals so these families can concentrate on getting better and staying healthy.

Ways to Safely Support Your Community

The week of April 20 is National Volunteer Week, and we’ve compiled a list of virtual volunteer opportunities and ways you can make an impact while sheltering in place. This list is not inclusive of all virtual volunteer opportunities and we encourage everyone to get creative and think about ways they can make a difference from home.

  • Buy something from a virtual wish list. Search the wish list of your favorite charity online at Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc. to view items they need. Once you purchase an item, it’s shipped directly to the charity.
  • Donate your skills/talent. All nonprofits in Greater Philadelphia, now and through the recovery phase, have immediate access to Key Skills Hub, an online marketplace for volunteerism.
  • Handle distribution calls. Help Share Food Program connect to cupboards in the region to receive nutritious food. As a cupboard caller, you will receive a list of cupboards to call the day before to confirm the delivery schedule. Lists will come with a script and any other details necessary.
  • Remote tutoring. Focused Athletics is looking for volunteers to go over SAT prep lessons with the young men enrolled in their program. To sign up, email Note: Child abuse certifications are required.

In addition to these opportunities, we recently introduced a new Blue Crew-led initiative, Sock Monkeys and Smiles, in partnership with Ronald McDonald House of Philadelphia. This project is a way for our Blue Crew to spread cheer and show support for families at Ronald McDonald House.

We also launched a new virtual volunteer campaign to thank the region’s health care heroes working on the front lines at hospitals and other health care facilities. Our associates and their families are excited to mobilize in a movement of collective support for our health care workforce.

We’re All in This Together

With so many ways to give back while social distancing, I hope that you can participate and find joy in making a virtual impact to those in need during these difficult times. Working together, we will get through this!


Marie Gillespie

Marie Gillespie joined Independence in April 2015, as a Community Affairs Specialist. She works to strengthen the corporate volunteer program’s reach in the community. Prior to joining the team, Marie worked in recruitment and was a licensed Realtor. She enjoys navigating and networking the logistics of partnering with local non-profits to improve the health of our communities.