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Finding Ways to Volunteer During the Pandemic

The “social connection” that volunteering fosters is one of the dimensions of well-being we urge our clients to consider as they strive to create a healthier workplace. Every year on WebMD Impact Day we get to practice what we preach. Volunteering with co-workers creates camaraderie, generates goodwill toward the company, and can even boost employee engagement and retention. In the era of social distancing, it can be difficult to stay engaged in your communities though. Our WebMD Cares team has come up with some creative ways to do good—even when we can’t be there in person. Read on to learn more about how we are continuing to support our communities and consider incorporating some of these ideas into your organization.

Help for the Oregon Food Bank.

This March, at our Portland location, over 30 volunteers participated in WebMD Impact Day. We helped the Oregon Food Bank sort and bag over 16,000 pounds of oranges for packaging into 13,000 meals.

Since we were onsite, demand for the Oregon Food Bank’s services has skyrocketed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re proud to share that in addition to our corporate donation in early March, WebMD employees have donated nearly $2,000 from their own pockets to support healthy meals for Oregonians. This donation equates to around 6,000 meals!

Help for Gleaners Food Bank in Indianapolis.

On WebMD Impact Day in Indianapolis, over 70 volunteers from our Coaching Center helped the Community Cupboard of Gleaners Food Bank distribute groceries so recipients could make meals for an entire week.

Logging 228 volunteer hours, we were able to help over 7,000 individuals in need. Here’s what a few of our volunteers shared about the experience:

  • “A woman I served had never been to Gleaners before. She was so overwhelmed by the help she was receiving that she walked back through and gave each of the volunteers a hug to thank them for helping her not worry about what she was going to fix her family to eat this week.”
  • “I was struck by the diversity of people who needed help—those going through cancer treatment, manual laborers who don’t work as much in the winter, and parents taking in family members’ children and struggling to keep up with expenses.”
  • “One food pantry patron getting to the dairy food supply station exclaimed, ‘I get butter?!’ To those of us who don’t deal with food insecurity, this is small. But to this individual a stick of butter added some excitement to the food they’re eating this week.”

Like the Oregon Food Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for Gleaners’ services as well. According to the Gleaners website: “Our usual distributions cover 400 households per day for the pantry. Since mid-March we have seen upwards of 1,190 and growing.”

Don’t forget to incorporate remote workers, too!

Over 45 Indianapolis Coaching Center employees who work remotely volunteered at their local food banks. More than 25 remote workers participated in Crafty Notes—creating cards to brighten the days of God’s Love We Deliver patients who receive free, nutritious meals they can’t prepare for themselves.

WebMD employees are still finding ways to give back in this time of need.

Recently, we asked folks to share what they are doing to give back during a time when we can’t volunteer in person. Here’s what they said:

  • Fostering a pet! Area shelters need people who can foster pets before they are ready to be adopted from the shelter. Stay-at-home orders make it easy to do this.
  • Our neighborhood bought a ton of hand lotion and took it to the hospital for the staff. Lotion was something they really needed as their hands are so dry and cracked.
  • We are making masks and donating them!
  • My neighborhood is making thank-you cards to take to local hospitals for health care workers.

Whether virtual or in person, volunteering creates meaningful social connections that are so important during this time. WebMD employees are looking forward to continuing to be able to help those in need—now and in the future when we’re all together again.

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