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Giving back on your gap-year: a list of digital and in-person volunteer opportunities

Giving back on your gap-year: a list of digital and in-person volunteer opportunities

High school graduates are facing unique and new circumstances: stepping into adulthood amidst a global pandemic, leading many students to consider taking a gap year. This raises new questions on how to plan for the months ahead. For grads who are seriously exploring the gap year option, volunteering is emerging as a cornerstone of the gap year plan, offering students many options for personal growth and an opportunity to give back to their communities, both in person and online.

In-Person Experiences

Your community will have organizations that help with a wide variety of issues, such as support for lower-income families, home delivery services for the elderly or settlement services for newcomers. There are so many great ways that you can give back to your community. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Try starting your search at Volunteer Canada or Students Offering Support.
  • Volunteer at local organizations, or research national or regional programs like Katimavik to help broaden the experience while giving back to communities.
  • If you’re passionate about environmental issues, now is a great time to research different organizations. Check out GoodWork for green volunteer positions across Canada.

Digital Discoveries

As many people may be inclined to avoid gathering in large groups due to COVID-19, some organizations are transitioning to online volunteer opportunities. You really can make a difference with just an internet connection. To see virtual volunteering opportunities by province, check out to get started.

Here are more ideas for how you can give back from the safety of home:

  • Do you have a skill you’d like to use for social good, like coding or design? Catchafire matches professionals with organizations and non-profits who are seeking those skills.
  • Interested in art, science or history? There are digital volunteer opportunities with the Smithsonian. Their virtual positions were created to make their collections more accessible to the broader public.
  • If accessibility is an area of interest for you, there are many organizations that help create more accessible resources for those who are hearing or visually impaired, or for students that have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.
  • If you’re looking for opportunities around social change, there are organizations like Do Something that provide digital volunteer positions for youth. The United Nations also has online volunteering opportunities across the globe.

It feels good to do good. Whether you’re applying skills from home, or out canvassing for a cause that’s close to your heart, volunteering is rewarding and important for many. If you’re delaying post-secondary to do a gap year, volunteering can provide an incredible experience that will be educational and enriching.