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Helping Out During The Pandemic

By Alexandra Kerrigan

With sports seasons canceled, jobs lost, and limited socializing, for many students, the pandemic has limited the chances of finding activities to do outside of school. It may currently seem difficult to get involved within Central or the city at large. However, there are more opportunities for involvement than ever before, as COVID has presented an unprecedented need for volunteer work in our communities- and there are a host of different ways to help out.  One program in need of new volunteers is Philly Reading Coaches, an entirely volunteer-based organization that grants supplementary reading lessons to students in grades K-3. With two-thirds of Philadelphia’s elementary school students reading below reading level, our city’s youth needs extra help. Luckily, the Philly Reading Coaches program has adapted to a virtual platform and has been able to begin holding sessions every day of the week. But PRC still lacks the adequate number of volunteers to ensure that students get the support they deserve. Maggie Cohen, regional director of Philly Reading Coaches, explains that the program “caters to 200 elementary school students, with each student reading twice a week with two different volunteers. So we need 400 volunteers in total, ideally.” Currently, the program has just 250 coaches, requiring volunteers to work with multiple students at a time. This decreases the quality of personalized instruction for each student, which is especially crucial as students navigate remote learning. PRC hopes to recruit as many new volunteers as possible, and volunteers can join at practically any point during the school year. To get involved, fill out the volunteer interest form here, and for more information, visit the PRC website.

A student participating in a virtual Philly Reading Coaches session. Students read with volunteers through Zoom twice a week for an hour after school.

Another great option to help out around Philadelphia is through mutual aid. Unlike many charitable organizations, mutual aid projects do not use any donations for administrative costs- all funds go directly to those in need. Mutual aid volunteers can choose between a variety of ways to provide aid, including picking up and delivering groceries/household supplies, preparing meals, and donating directly. Once signed up, volunteers receive email notifications whenever aid is requested and can respond saying whether they can or cannot help out. They are always looking for new volunteers, particularly those who can speak another language. To get involved, visit the Philly Mutual Aid website.

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