The organizers: Dozens of high-school students in Toronto
The pitch: Creating Impact Without Contact
The reason: To help young people find volunteering opportunities
When the pandemic hit in 2020, millions of high-school students like Sophie Yang felt isolated and lost.
The ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions caused havoc with studying and left many students in Ontario scrambling to figure out how they would fulfill their required 40 hours of volunteering.
So Ms. Yang and a group of friends launched a newsletter to help fellow high-school students in Toronto find volunteer opportunities. Demand for the newsletter was so strong that they launched Impact Without Contact, a website that matches students, and anyone else who’s interested, with a variety of volunteer opportunities. Everyone who registers receives a personalized plan that lists volunteer programs tailored to their interests. And since most of the opportunities during the pandemic have involved online help, Impact has attracted registered volunteers from abroad, including India, Pakistan and Hong Kong.
Ms. Yang graduated last year and the group is now led by Isabella Pan and a team of eight other students – Gloria Li, Nishka Khanzode, Aydin Visanji, Eno Ma, Kareena Brahmbhatt, Elvina Chacko, Leesha Pilla and Helena Zhu. They’ve expanded the service to include tutoring programs and personal-care packages for homeless shelters. The Impact website currently has 1,000 registered users and it lists more than 40 volunteer opportunities.
This summer, the students hope to launch a fundraising drive to help develop more programs.
“We really want to expand into different kinds of education sessions, that are one-time sessions, so that people can learn different skills,” Ms. Pan said, “for example, coding or art or other extracurricular classes.” She added that the group is also considering offering similar courses in seniors homes.
Managing and expanding Impact has “been a really big learning curve,” Ms. Li said. “As high-school students you don’t really have experience starting or running a non-profit.”
But for Mr. Visanji, the benefits of working together during the pandemic, albeit largely online, have far outweighed the challenges.
“It’s been really fulfilling,” he said. “It’s been great to see it progress and evolve.”
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