Gyeonggi Youth Volunteer was originally a volunteering organization that included over a thousand youth members who participate in volunteer work within different regions of Gyeonggi province. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, 1,593 members and leaders were selected to plan and start their group volunteering this year.
After the opening ceremony was indefinitely postponed, members were disconcerted regarding their change of methods in volunteering. Chief Kim Jae-min and his team decided to utilize social media such as Naver Café and Instagram more often to encourage participation of members. Since training for volunteer work was done online, their goal was to make videos as entertaining and time efficient as possible. However, only short-term volunteer projects were held as it became impossible for members to gather in large groups. During the first half of the year, three volunteer projects were accomplished.
One of the newly designed remote volunteer projects is called “Saving a blind child.” It aims to help blind children by making them handmade dolls and braille books. This was an individual volunteer project where participants had to make and send their finished works to the volunteer center. Even though it was done individually, 434 volunteer members participated.
Another project called “Birdsaver” is also an individual volunteer work with 104 members. Participants would find places in their regions where birds die of collision. Then, by notifying these areas, they could prevent birds dying from man-made constructions. Only the mandatory education received prior to volunteering was done offline.
Along with remote volunteering, contact volunteering is cautiously proceeding. Starting from July, group volunteering in each Gyeonggi region was conducted by group leaders.
“Wearing masks as well as sanitizing will be the priority in contact volunteering,” Kim said. “If the situation worsens, volunteering will be cancelled.”
From Aug. 20, due to an increase in confirmed patients, all in-person volunteering was banned till Aug. 30.
Members share experiences on remote volunteering
Yoon Sei is a sophomore in Ewha who is currently participating as a group volunteer leader in Goyang city. Her initial volunteer project, which centered on animal rights, contained activities related to animal shows and mistreated civet cats used to make civet cat coffee. However, she changed her plans to remote volunteer work for sheltered animals in the city.
“There is a shelter in Goyang which protects animals without practicing euthanasia,” Yoon said. “I assumed they would need financial and labor support to maintain the shelter. Therefore, to help them, our volunteer group planned on sending them handmade snacks and toys. Moreover, we decided to start a fund to provide more routes for donation.”
Changes were also made in campaigning methods. Instead of asking people for participation on the streets, videos on how to make handmade snacks and toys were uploaded on social media. This online campaign was designed to include more volunteer members despite the inability to gather together.
Another member, Park Na-kyung a junior from Hyupsung University, gave advice to those who are hesitant to volunteer in current circumstances.
“I wish to give two different pieces of advice to those who have zero or some experience in volunteering,” Park said.
“For someone who is new to volunteering, I recommend doing it with a friend. Even though meeting together might be hard, the fact that someone else is engaging in the same activity would generate rapport. Also, it will give one the courage to network with different people online!”
Park recommended sites like Campus Pick or Wevity for those who had some experiences.
Kim Eut-teum, a master’s student at Hongik University Graduate School of Education, realized that volunteering has many different meanings.
“I always considered directly helping others through practical work meant volunteering,” Kim commented. “Social media was definitely a silver lining in the time of the pandemic. I was able to send hopeful messages to Koreans living in Wuhan using social media.”
25-year-old member Park Young-ho also expressed his thoughts on why he chose to avidly volunteer in a time like this.
“I never considered volunteering an option,” Park replied. “Whether it may be remote or contact volunteering, I believe it is my responsibility to volunteer when I can. Most importantly, the happiness I feel through volunteering despite the pandemic is my motivation.”