For all students who graduated in 2019 or earlier, one of the requirements of graduating with an OSSD was completing 40 hours of Community Service. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry adjusted this number to 20 hours and (temporarily) loosened the restrictions on what qualifies as Community Service.
To reflect the new obstacles facing students in their attempts to earn their hours, the Ministry temporarily allowed schools, at the Principal’s discretion, to accept the following:
- Students may now use duties that are normally performed at the home
- Students may now use activities/services that occurred during normal school hours
- Students aged 14 and older may now use upwards of 10 hours of paid employment towards their service hours (in order to use these hours, students will need to complete a reflection exercise detailing how their work benefited the community)
So how do you find volunteer opportunities, and stay safe? There are many virtual options for volunteering, as well as ways you can benefit the community of people who you see day to day. Consider the following:
- Online tutoring/mentoring. Reach out to parents in your neighbourhood and offer your services as a tutor or peer mentor to younger children in your community. If you are not comfortable providing academic tutoring, you can always act as a mentor or “buddy” to youth in your neighbourhood who may be feeling isolated or who are missing their normal activities. Not sure where to start? Take a look at TeensGive, an online tutoring agency designed for high school students.
- Aid an elderly/in need neighbour. Do you have a neighbour who needs help with shovelling their driveway, or who needs groceries delivered? Is there a single parent who could use some babysitting help? You may find your help is greatly needed by someone in your community!
- Organise a “buy nothing” group in your area – Plan and organise a food, clothing, household item or gadget swap in your neighbourhood. These can be done fully virtually, with neighbours leaving their goods in sealed bags on their doorstep.
- Become a pen-pal. Across Ontario, a number of pen-pal organisations have cropped up linking high school students with members of their community, whether they be other students or seniors in long term care homes. These letters can be incredibly rewarding, and may just continue on long past you complete your 20 hours!
Still stuck? Below, find links to online databases which will help connect you to virtual and in person volunteer opportunities in your community:
- Volunteer Toronto – Search by age, location, interest and time commitment for a volunteer opportunity that fits your interests, needs and availability!
- Volunteer Canada – Get paired with volunteer opportunities that fit your needs, with both in person and virtual options.
- Ontario Volunteer Centre Network – Formerly Spark.ca, this is an excellent place to start your search and gain tips and strategies on how to find the best opportunities for you!