2020 has been the year to explore the concept of a “new normal.” This year definitely has tested our flexibility in adapting our mindsets, often on a seemingly daily basis. And our educators and kids have been some of the most challenged, learning new routines, new procedures, and new resources, coupled with many false starts to returning to what was. Yet many feel that the silver lining to all of this unknown has been a renewed sense of community.
In times of trouble, philanthropic efforts often are impacted as people turn inwards to try to shoulder their own situations. Yet the global pandemic really has put a spotlight on how we all need to band together and support one another. And instilling this sense of community is one that needs to be cultivated from when kids are young, and that’s why schools often put a large emphasis on the notion of service learning.
According to Vanderbilt University, service learning is defined as: “A form of experiential education where learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection as students seek to achieve real objectives for the community and deeper understanding and skills for themselves.“— Edutopia.org
But how can service learning happen when many schools are not in person and many states have social distancing and quarantine mandates? Treedom is a digital platform that connects students with volunteer opportunities posted by public and private sectors. The app allows for kids to filter to discover meaningful experiences that pique their interest and fit their schedules. And pandemic or not, Treedom offers virtual opportunities (as well as in-person ones). Plus, the dynamic platform means that kids can record, reflect, and share their experiences with one another digitally to underscore the notion of social responsibility and social good.
The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has changed the educational landscape into an entirely different space — one that we find ourselves only marginally prepared to educate children in, and a space where social-emotional skills are more important than ever.” — Edsurge
Whether schools are in-person, hybrid, or distance learning, Treedom provides school administrators with a way to encourage social and emotional learning (SEL). The web-based portal provides a digital hub for school personnel and students to connect and reflect together on the power of service learning. Administrators can track their students’ engagement and interaction through the Software Suite, which includes an impact dashboard.
So what do such service learning opportunities look like on Treedom? Here is a sample of four current opportunities, which kids can participate in remotely or with social distancing protocols in mind:
Make Holiday Ornaments for Deployed Service Members and Veteran Patients with Soldiers’ Angels — Use your creativity and skills to make ornaments to brighten this winter season for those who have given so much to our country. From painted wood ornaments to beaded wreaths and everything in between, your ornaments can be anything you’d like.
Host a Toy Drive in your Community for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles —
As the holidays are approaching, it is hard to imagine the difference a simple gift can make to a hospitalized child during these times. Host a toy drive in your community to collect musical toys, battle rattles, legos, barbie dolls, craft and bead kits, table games, infant toys, books and much more! All toys will be donated to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles via drop-off or mail-in.
Donate Essential Food and Hygiene Items to Skid Rowfor the Holidays for the Los Angeles Mission — With the holidays fast approaching, The Los Angeles Mission needs your help in gathering essential food and hygiene items to meet their goal of providing 2,700 food boxes and hygiene kits to their Skid Row community this Thanksgiving season.
Host a Winter Coat Drive with One Warm Coat — One Warm Coat exists to provide free coats to people who don’t have access to one. This winter, with a pandemic as an increasingly serious cause for concern as it gets colder, organize a drive for your school, club, or community group to make sure that no one goes without a coat.