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June 25, 2020
Students at Arizona State University have access to dozens of programs that allow them to help people in the community, in Arizona, across the U.S. and around the world.
But how can people do public service work when almost everything has gone virtual, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Several humanitarian initiatives in the ASU community have become creative in making the switch to helping people remotely or with social distancing. And in some cases, the change has allowed more people to benefit.
Ruben Neal has been working with Diana Gregory Outreach Services, a Phoenix-based organization that provides fresh fruits and vegetables along with nutrition education to low-income older adults and veterans. Before the pandemic hit, the nonprofit held farmers markets to distribute produce.
“But then we went to a whole new model. The idea came into my head when I saw all the restaurants doing delivery,” said Neal, a student at Colorado Technical University. He worked with Gregory to pack and deliver more than 3,000 bags of fruit and vegetables to older adults and veterans in the Phoenix area.
“We actually ended up helping a lot more people via this model,” he said.
Neal is in Public Allies Arizona, an intense, full-time AmeriCorps apprenticeship program that pairs young people with nonprofit organizations. The allies are paid for their work over the 10-month period and then receive a grant to pay for tuition, professional development or to apply to student debt. Public Allies is part of the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, in the School of Community Resources and Development.