As communities across the country celebrate National Volunteer Week this week, Ontario’s universities are recognizing the individual and collective efforts of our students, faculty and staff.
From supporting aging adults and vulnerable populations to helping frontline workers with patient care and the vaccine roll-out, these individuals have demonstrated tremendous resolve and ingenuity in supporting Ontario’s fight against COVID-19.
Below are just a few examples of the many initiatives taking place across Ontario’s universities.
Providing services to students and families
Algoma University: To provide essential food supplies to student and families in need during the pandemic, Algoma University students delivered healthy and accessible fruits and vegetables, not just to students and employees, but also to families across the Algoma region.
Brock University: In a year when support is needed more than ever, Brock University’s faculty and staff have stepped up and rallied around the local community. Brock employees volunteered virtually with the University’s 2020 United Way fundraising campaign as committee members and canvassers, helping to support more than 120,000 people across the Niagara Region.
Lakehead University: Facing a global pandemic, as well as school and childcare closures across the province, parents and caregivers can undoubtedly be feeling overwhelmed. At the beinning of the pandemic, Lakehead University launched free courses that provided expert advice on parenting, learning at home and managing anxiety, as well as, free live and on-demand webinars.
Nipissing University: To help raise critical funding for Cystic Fibrosis, the Nipissing University Student Union (NUSU) hosted its annual Shinerama fundraiser online this year, hosting a virtual car wash for community members.
OCAD University: Whether it be through producing dozens of episodes for OCAD U LiVE, amplifying the perspectives of BIPOC students to affect change, representing student concerns on governance bodies or helping first-years navigate this atypical start to their university studies, OCAD University is celebrating the accomplishments of student volunteers and leaders through this year’s Student Leadership Awards.
Wilfrid Laurier University: As many in-person services and resources have been temporarily closed to help curb the spread of COVID-19, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Community Hub moved online – virtually connecting members of the Laurier community and continuing to build relationships with community organizations, such as the United Way and Canadian Blood services.
Stepping up to help frontline workers
Laurentian University: To ensure health-care workers have personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against COVID-19, Laurentian University has volunteered with community partners to combine resources and help produce this much needed equipment.
Queen’s University: More than 200 Queen’s University medical students have answered a call for assistance from the Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), volunteering to help their local community as the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) region ramps up its vaccine roll–out.
Trent University: To raise funds for his local hospital and help provide essential supplies for health-care workers during COVID-19, a Trent University student organized a virtual #CrushCOVID marathon cycling fundraiser early in the pandemic, which surpassed his initial fundraising goal and garnered $210,000 in donations for the local hospital.
University of Toronto: From partnering with businesses and restaurants to provide long-term care staff with care packages to combating isolation and loneliness amongst seniors by reaching out to long-term care residents, a group of students and recent graduates from the University of Toronto are volunteering to help support long-term care workers and seniors affected by COVID-19.
University of Waterloo: To help the local community fight COVID-19, the University of Waterloo’s Science Society, Science departmental clubs and the Psychology Society donated $5,500, helping equip local hospitals with N95 masks, personal protective equipment, IV drip poles and bags.
University of Windsor: To help support frontline workers and hospitals during the pandemic, students from the University of Windsor volunteered in a fundraising effort towards the COVID-19 Assistance Fund of the Windsor Regional Hospital Foundation.
Supporting vulnerable communities
Carleton University: Many measures that have taken effect to curb the spread of COVID-19 have left some of Ontario’s most vulnerable community members at greater risk. Two Carleton University students decided to take action, volunteering to provide “street survival kits” to people who are experiencing homelessness in Ottawa during the pandemic.
University of Guelph: A University of Guelph student is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of homeless youths in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), volunteering to organize and deliver 300 hygiene kits to youth shelters across the GTA.
McMaster University: Throughout the pandemic, concepts, such as community fridges with free items have grown in popularity. Some include pantries with other necessities, such as menstrual supplies, which is the goal of two McMaster University student volunteers and “Period Pop-Ups”, an accessible, donation-based pantry filled with free menstrual products that is available for those in need 24/7.
Ontario Tech University: Many older adults have faced extensive periods of isolation during the pandemic, with in-person programs temporarily shuttered and a lack of access to technology to communicate with family members. In an effort to address this serious problem and help bridge the technology gap, a group of students at Ontario Tech University is volunteering with the local community to collect second-hand laptops and tablets.
University of Ottawa: To help support community members experiencing homelessness during the pandemic, students from the University of Ottawa are volunteering at the Shepherds of Good Hope shelter, preparing and cooking meals for those in need.
Ryerson University: With the closure of all non-essential resources and services to slow the spread of COVID-19, a Ryerson University student founded ‘Moving Hope’, a not-for-profit of more than 50 volunteers to help people who are experiencing homelessness across the GTA.
Western University: To promote comfort, social connection and isolation-prevention with seniors, 40 Western University students from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry have volunteered to virtually connect with senior members of the local community during the past year.
York University: Volunteering to use his passion for cooking and helping others, a York University student in the Department of Politics is making a positive impact in the lives of Torontonians in need as the city grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.