That’s what volunteering means to me — something so small having such a meaningful impact for someone else.
Our mask-making team continued to grow, and I eventually founded a nonprofit, created a website, and started shipping mask and face shield assembly kits across the country. We held virtual assembly parties where people would reconnect while making a genuine difference toward slowing the spread of COVID-19. Our team grew to over 10,000 volunteers across the nation.
Of the roughly 800,000 masks created by volunteers, around 40% went directly to veteran communities. Our network also provided a much-needed opportunity for people — including veterans at my local Veterans Affairs medical center — to find purpose during such a scary and uncertain time. By volunteering to make and deliver masks, we were empowering each other and our communities. Papa B was right. We were stronger together.
As a result of those efforts, I was honored with the top scholarship from DAV (Disabled American Veterans), the congressionally chartered voice of America’s disabled veterans. The DAV Scholarship program awards $110,000 in scholarships each year to volunteers 21 and younger who give back to veterans in their communities.
To be eligible, hours must be credited to DAV, and the process couldn’t be easier. Volunteers can log hours at a local VA medical center or through the Local Veterans Assistance Program (LVAP), which can include everything from grocery shopping to yardwork for veterans. When a volunteer selects DAV or DAV Auxiliary, their hours are reported back to the organization. With at least 100 hours, volunteers can be eligible for scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $30,000.
The DAV Scholarship money will be a huge help in funding my college education, but the real reward is the chance to reach even more veterans and volunteers. With a robust volunteer program and more than 1 million members across over 1,200 local chapters, DAV makes it easy to give back to all our nation’s heroes. Whether you’re looking for a new opportunity or an impactful way to fill your service hour requirements, DAV makes volunteering accessible and effortless.
I hope you’ll join me and thousands of others who donate their time to veterans through DAV. Learn more at volunteerforveterans.org.
Evan Osgood is DAV’s (Disabled American Veterans) top youth volunteer and a recent graduate of Loveland High School.