Supporting Community Organizations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In true polar bear fashion, many members of the Bowdoin community have expressed interest in helping those most affected by this unprecedented crisis. As we grapple with keeping ourselves and our communities safe, we are eager to support the organizations on the front lines working to meet the basic needs of vulnerable populations as well as those facing new hardships as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

General Volunteer Guidelines 

  • Bowdoin College and the McKeen Center strongly recommend that any person who has recently travelled, been in contact with someone diagnosed with or under investigation for COVID-19, or shown signs of illness immediately self-isolate and/or contact a medical professional per CDC guidelines.  
  • Because this is a global crisis, the needs and resources of each community can look very different. For students who have left Brunswick and are seeking ways to support their local communities, please reach out to food pantries, homeless shelters, emergency crisis teams, health centers, or other organizations in your area to find out how you can best support their specific needs. 
  • Any direct volunteer activity must be done on an individual basis and is not affiliated with a Bowdoin College or McKeen Center program.  As we learn more about remote and virtual volunteering, the McKeen Center may develop new opportunities for engagement.  
  • All volunteers should connect directly with the organization and abide by their guidelines and safety procedures. Your contact might be a volunteer or programming coordinator, guidance counselor, teacher, or other organization leader. 
  • If you are looking for ways to support the greater Brunswick community at this timeplease see our suggestions further down. Be sure to check organization websites for the most up-to-date information. 

Virtual Volunteering

  • With many states and countries locked down and social distancing practices in effect globally, there are still ways you can support local organizations without risking community spread. Many organizations have created or adapted existing volunteer opportunities to be done remotely. Consider reaching out to organizations in your area to see what their needs are and if there are ways you can volunteer virtually.
  • Many organizations are seeking monetary and material donations. Online or mailed donations are a great way to help while practicing social distancing! 
  • Help educate your peers and neighbors about COVID-19, the current needs of your community, and what organizations close to you are doing to help. 
  • Remember that staying at home, practicing social distancing, and following federal, state, and CDC guidelines is in and of itself a way to support your community!

Volunteering In Person

  • While many organizations are seeking monetary donations or offering virtual volunteer opportunities, some have needs that require in-person volunteers. If you are considering volunteering in person, some things to consider include:
    • Are you, or someone you live with, at higher risk for contracting or experiencing complications from COVID-19? (See CDC criteria)
    • Have you been in contact with anyone who has shown symptoms, been tested for, and/or diagnosed with COVID-19?
    • What safety precautions are being taken by the organization to ensure your safety and the safety of those you're interacting with (particularly if that includes vulnerable populations)?
    • Are you able to abide by all restrictions and meet all criteria set forth by the organization?
    • Does your state have lockdown measures in place that would prevent you from volunteering in person?

Blood Donation

  • As the coronavirus pandemic has grown, over 9,000 blood drives have been cancelled across the U.S. The need for blood products right now is critical and ongoing, and donating is currently classified as an essential service exempt from stay at home orders. Learn more about blood donation here.

Supporting Brunswick

  • Our community partners in the Greater Brunswick area are doing incredible work to sustain and adapt their programming. For more information on how to help meet their specific needs, sign up for Service News for weekly updates by emailing Avery at
  • For a more comprehensive list of needs and opportunities to support the Greater Brunswick community, visit this link. 

 Page Updated 6/25/2020