Nonprofits seeing surge in volunteers during COVID-19 pandemic

Times are tough right now, but that’s not stopping people from lending a hand.

Take, for example, Ebony Jones, who leaves her Northeast D.C. home every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to hand out meals to families in need at Cora Kelly Elementary School in Alexandria.

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“I’m so passionate about it simply because I know there’s families out there that are in great need,” Jones said. “It makes me feel needed, it makes me feel like my services are valued, and that I’m doing something of great purpose.”

A lot of other people appear to be thinking the same thing.

Jones ended up volunteering at Cora Kelly after signing-up with Volunteer Alexandria, a nonprofit that connects volunteers with organizations that need a hand.

In a typical month before the coronavirus hit, Volunteer Alexandria would have about 150 people register, according to Executive Director Marion Brunken. But in the past month, they’ve had more than 600 – a 400 percent increase.

It’s a similar story across the DMV, with people handing out food, sewing masks, and pretty much lending a hand wherever they can. Brunken said part of the reason for it may be a new sense of urgency.

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“If you’re not under this situation, you just pick what your cause is, and that might be you’re gonna take a senior shopping. There’s no stress, and you do it every Wednesday because that’s what you do. But see this is now, ‘no we have to get food into the hands of the families,’ because there’s so much else going on, you know? They may have no jobs. So it’s a little different,” Brunken explained.

Jones added, “as long as I’m practicing safe measures, then why not serve the greater community?”

Brunken said Volunteer Alexandria is following strict safety procedures right now, including equipping all volunteers with masks, taking their temperature before work, and volunteers are also social distancing.

If you’d like to lend a hand too, you can find more information about Volunteer Alexandria here.