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Just over two months ago, our community was rocked by the news that COVID-19 had reached Pennsylvania.

There were new rules about where we could go, what we could do and who we could spend time with.

Although abiding by all of these new guidelines seemed strange at first, people adjusted to the new standards of social distancing and self-quarantining. We made masks and sang “Happy Birthday” as we washed our hands. We lined up outside grocery stores and learned how to operate Zoom. This became our new normal.

While “nonessential” businesses were shuttered, social service organizations were slammed with new clients. Many of the people reaching out for help were navigating these resources for the first time.

The PA 2-1-1 East helpline was inundated with calls, texts and messages from people in need of food, housing and utility assistance.

Local food pantries saw increases in client numbers, and their shelves were emptying faster than ever before. But with thousands of Lancastrians newly out of work and unsure of what the future would hold, they started to look for ways to be of service.

In the wake of COVID-19, hundreds of people reached out to United Way to find out how they could help, and the Coronavirus Action Team was born.

This cohort of volunteers has been standing on the front lines during this crisis by serving those in our community who need it the most, and their presence has been noticed.

While we still don’t know how long these new guidelines will be in place in our area, an end is in sight.

Counties in Pennsylvania are moving from the red zone to the yellow zone.

Eventually, we will return to the green zone, but the demand for assistance at nonprofit organizations in our community will not end. Issues like hunger, housing and childcare will continue to affect our neighbors well past the end of our quarantine.

This is your chance to make a difference and be part of a team that lifts everyone up so we all can succeed. Please consider signing up to be part of the Coronavirus Action Team at LiveUnitedLancaster.org/Volunteer to connect with ways you can make an impact in Lancaster County.

Volunteer opportunities

Please check out these current volunteer needs from organizations in our area.

  • Drivers are needed for Meals on Wheels routes in Northern Lancaster County. If you are able to help with deliveries in the Rothsville and Clay Township areas, please contact Colleen at Ephrata Area Social Services, at 717-733-4846, between 8 and 11 am to get more details. You also may call after 11 am and leave a message.
  • The George F. Hempt Memorial MS Polo Match to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is seeking volunteers to help on Saturday, Aug. 15. The polo match takes place at noon at the Lancaster Polo Club Grounds, 70 Church Road, Lititz. Tasks will include selling raffle tickets, assisting with the auction, parking and traffic, greeting guests, setting up, cleaning up and more. For information, please contact Libby McClayton at [email protected] or 202-375-5629. Interested volunteers can sign up to help through this online form: signupgenius.com/go/mspolomatch2020.
  • Lancaster Science Factory is currently recruiting virtual volunteers, exhibit caretakers and summer camp volunteers for their anticipated reopening. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Whitney Lupton at [email protected].

Nonprofit organizations in Lancaster County are encouraged to publish volunteer needs in this column. For information, contact United Way’s Volunteer Center at 717-824-8122 or email [email protected].