Volunteers greatly needed as COVID-19 impacts many social service organizations, more

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Even as COVID-19 news inundates our eyes and ears, good things are happening. Look and listen closely, and you will undoubtedly hear over and over again how communities are coming together, people are helping others, hungry children are being fed, resources are available and more. Volunteering in any capacity brings people together, fosters collaboration and shares common goals, while contributing to both individual and collective well-being, which supports one of the pillars of Purdue’s Healthy Boiler Program.

“Many aspects of what we considered normal daily life have been turned upside down by COVID-19, and activities that foster a true connection with those around us seem to have been especially hard hit,” said Candace Shaffer, senior director of benefits in Human Resources.  “We all know that social connections are important, which is why social wellness is one of the pillars of our Healthy Boiler Program. Through volunteer work, we have the opportunity to actively engage with others, and we want to provide Purdue faculty and staff with options available to them.”    

If you are someone who would like to find a way to help during this unprecedented time in history, there are many organizations looking for volunteers to help them help others. Volunteer options include on-site assistance, virtual assistance and donations – both in-kind and monetary.

All social services organizations are seeing an increased need for volunteer assistance at this time, including in our Greater Lafayette community.

Local volunteer opportunities

Mental Health America – Wabash Valley Region

As crisis line calls have risen 174 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mental Health America – Wabash Valley Region urgently needs Crisis Center volunteers. Upcoming Crisis Intervention Specialist Training begins on May 26 and is seven sessions long. Virtual classes will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon and 6 to 8 p.m. More information and training schedule can be found here. Online application is available here.

YWCA – Greater Lafayette

The YWCA of Greater Lafayette has updated its needs list in response to COVID-19; at this time, the items on that list are the only ones being accepted. Needed items include:

  • Clorox/bleach disinfecting wipes
  • Laundry detergent
  • Trash bags
  • Inflatable air mattress with electric pump
  • Individually packaged snacks
  • Frozen individual meals
  • Fun items: Playing cards, board games, paper, markers, coloring books

The entire list of items can be found on the YWCA’s “Updated COVID-19 DVIPP Needs” web page.

LTHC Homeless Services

All volunteers can use a separate entrance, will have their temperatures checked upon arrival and are able to work without direct contact with guests. 

LTHC is looking for some hands-on help in three areas.

  1. Serve meals! They could use one or two people on-site daily to help serve lunch and dinner (noon and 5:30 p.m.) as well as clean up afterward.
  2. Organize supplies! LTHC converts bulk donations to single-service. Every weekday from 1 to 3 p.m., they utilize up to eight volunteers to help organize.
  3. Make food! Volunteers making side dishes for LTHC to serve at meals works well. Food item(s) must be safely packaged and labeled (with item and date) and be enough to serve 75 individuals. Any hot items need to be fully cooked prior to delivery so LTHC only has to reheat. Ideas: Bake some biscuits, cut up some watermelon, make a salad, etc.

Those interested in signing up or learning more about any of the above options can email Jennifer at jshook@lthc.net.

Additionally, LTHC is always in need of item donations. Current wish list items are:

  • Men's boxers -- all sizes
  • Ladies underwear, any style -- sizes 5-9
  • Deodorant -- for men and women
  • Razors -- for men and women
  • Ziploc snack bags
  • Non-zippered sandwich bags

LTHC also has a mini pantry that they work to keep stocked for their guests. You can find the mini pantry list and sign up for which items you’d like to donate here.

All donations can be delivered or shipped to:
LTHC Homeless Service
815 North 12th Street
Lafayette, IN 47904.

If you drop off items, please use Door #4, which is located on 13th Street (ring the bell upon arrival). 

Food Finders Food Bank

The impact of COVID-19 on food insecure individuals and families has created an even greater need for donations, both monetary and in-kind. As of right now, Food Finders has canceled all volunteer shifts until further notice.

Information on donating funds can be found on the “Help us end hunger in North Central Indiana” web page.

Food donations of all sizes are needed and welcomed at all times; details are available here.

Most needed items include:

  • 100 percent fruit juices
  • Cereal
  • Canned soups and stews
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Meals in a box/can
  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned fish and meats
  • Fresh produce from gardens or farms – Other options for donations of fresh produce can be found on AmpleHarvest.

Additionally, Food Finders accepts donations of toiletries, cleaning products and pet food.

Please note: Food Finders cannot accept donations of any opened boxes, cans, containers, bottles, etc. as well as homemade food or baby food in glass containers. All donated food must be in its original form.

Donations should be dropped off at the Food Finders Warehouse, located at 1210 N. 10th St, Lafayette, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Those who organize food drives and collect 500 pounds of food or more can contact Food Finders at 765-471-0062 and schedule items to be picked up.

American Red Cross

Due to COVID-19, the cancellation of many blood drives across the country have created a need to set up COVID-19 specific blood drives.  American Red Cross Blood Services can help you find places to donate. Visit the American Red Cross website and input your ZIP code for listings near you.

Upcoming blood drives for the Greater Lafayette community are outlined here.

Visit the “Feel the Power of Volunteering” web page to learn more about volunteer opportunities with the American Red Cross.

United Way

The United Way of Greater Lafayette has set up a dedicated COVID-19 Community Response initiative specifically for volunteer needs. Organizations included in the list are Meals on Wheels Greater Lafayette, Almost Home Humane Society, Lafayette Urban Ministry and more. View the list of volunteer opportunities on “COVID-19 Community Response” web page. To donate funds to the COVID-19 Response Fund, use the donation form here.

Other United Way volunteer opportunities and volunteer information can be found online via the Volunteer Engagement Center.


For more ideas, visit VolunteerMatch, a world leader in volunteerism. During the COVID-19 pandemic, VolunteerMatch is helping individuals, organizations and more across communities come together to help each other. See their Virtual Volunteer Opportunities to search the many remote volunteer opportunities available.