Lend a hand — Americans volunteer for their communities as a result of the pandemic

Sixty-five percent of Americans say that the pandemic has provided them with a "wake-up call" to reach out to their communities. And a new survey of 2,000 Americans revealed that more than half are doing that via volunteering. In fact, fifty-two percent reported volunteering in their communities for the very first time as a result of the circumstances brought on by the pandemic. Delivering food to essential workers (35%), volunteering to help the elderly or incapacitated maintain their homes (23%) and volunteering at a food pantry (20%) were among the most common ways respondents had volunteered since the start of the pandemic. Yet seven out of ten respondents reported that, while the effects of COVID-19 on their community made them more eager to volunteer, they've hesitated due to safety concerns. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Muse Health Hand Sanitizer, the study also examined the safety precautions that would make them feel more confident lending a helping hand in their communities. Among those who agreed that they had hesitated to volunteer due to safety concerns, 56% reported concern about the availability of handwashing and hand sanitizing stations, making this the most common worry. Other common concerns among this group included whether or not mask wearing would be required at the site (50%) and whether or not social distancing would be mandated (44%). "It's completely understandable that many feel held back by uncertainty about safety situations at locations where they are interested in volunteering their time," said Tara Merkle, Senior Director of Marketing for Muse Health. "To avoid anxiety about supplies at job sites - which, in many volunteer and charity situations, may be extremely limited - be sure to bring your own bottle of hand sanitizer to help you and others stay safe." For over a third of respondents, the motivation to volunteer came from close to home. Thirty-five percent reported that their primary reason to step up was knowing of friends and neighbors in need, which made them want to contribute. And 17% said their friends and neighbors who were helping out inspired them to do the same. The uptick in volunteering may continue post-pandemic, if what respondents are getting out of it is any indication. Seventy-three percent of respondents agreed that while donating money or items to help the community is great, using their hands to get out there and do the work is more fulfilling. And nearly seven in 10 reported that, as more people become vaccinated, they hope to increase their time spent volunteering. "It's commendable, and heartening, to see so many Americans stepping up to lend a helping hand in their communities during this challenging time. That's why we created the #HandsOnMovement - to celebrate the selfless individuals who are giving back to their communities," added Tara. "Safety precautions like the use of hand sanitizer are going to be key to making volunteering a sustainable reality for as long as the pandemic ensures, so being prepared is critical." MOST COMMON VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC Delivering food to essential workers (35%) Volunteering to help elderly or otherwise incapacitated neighbors maintain these homes (23%) Collecting items for food pantries (21%) Volunteering at a food pantry (20%) Donating blood (19%)