American spirit of volunteerism thrives in the age of COVID-19 [photo gallery]

Man in mask vaccinating woman in arm (© Ted S. Warren/AP Images)
(© Ted S. Warren/AP Images)

Americans are finding countless ways to help each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jennifer Haller (above) is one of the volunteers participating in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.

“We all feel so helpless. This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” Haller told the Associated Press in March. Plus, her two teenagers “think it’s cool” that she is taking part in the study.

U.S. volunteerism in times of hardship is not a new phenomenon. In the 19th century, French political scientist and historian Alexis de Tocqueville noted that Americans didn’t wait for authorities but took action on their own.

“If an accident happens on the highway, everybody hastens to help the sufferer; if some great and sudden calamity befalls a family, the purses of a thousand strangers are at once willingly opened, and small but numerous donations pour in to relieve their distress,” Tocqueville wrote in his two-volume book Democracy in America.

Below are photographs showing that same spirit as Americans help one another during the coronavirus crisis.

People taping down sheets of blue material on cathedral floor (© Mary Altaffer/AP Images)
(© Mary Altaffer/AP Images)

Volunteers tape tarpaulins down on the floor while building a field hospital at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York on April 8.


Nurse standing in front of ambulance (© John Minchillo/AP Images)
(© John Minchillo/AP Images)

Registered nurse Elizabeth Schafer, 36, of South St. Paul, Minnesota, stands for a portrait before entering Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital for her second day volunteering to combat the COVID-19 pandemic on April 1 in New York.

Schafer, who left her home in the Midwest to volunteer in New York, said: “I took an oath as a nurse to do no harm and just go where I was needed.”


Woman in mask and gloves lying on stretcher and donating blood (© Damian Dovarganes/AP Images)
(© Damian Dovarganes/AP Images)

Lindsay Fuerst, a casting and talent manager at Nickelodeon, a TV network, donates blood at the American Red Cross office in Santa Monica, California, on March 26.


People next to stacks of groceries bagging groceries (© John Minchillo/AP Images)
(© John Minchillo/AP Images)

Volunteers pack free groceries for distribution to the elderly at Hope Community Services on March 13 in New Rochelle, New York.


Woman in blue protective gown helping colleague put on face shield (© Ted S. Warren/AP Images)
(© Ted S. Warren/AP Images)

Tilliesa Banks, right, an emergency services nurse at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, helps a colleague put on a medical face shield on April 2.

The face shield was 3D-printed and assembled by a member of a network of volunteers using a design approved and hosted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.


Hand in black glove spraying sanitizer into bare hands of another person (© Lynne Sladky/AP Images)
(© Lynne Sladky/AP Images)

The hand of Valerie Chang, right, who volunteers with World Central Kitchen, is shown as she offers hand sanitizer to a resident waiting to receive a free meal outside the Red Rooster Overtown restaurant during the new coronavirus pandemic in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami on March 30.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson lent his as-yet-unopened Red Rooster Overtown restaurant to chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen staff to prepare and distribute meals to those in the community affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.


Woman in apron, mask and gloves stacking circular containers of food (© Angela Rowlings/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images)
(© Angela Rowlings/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images)

Monica Cannon-Grant, founder of Violence in Boston, helps prepare meals for schoolchildren and other community members in need at Food for the Soul restaurant in the Grove Hall neighborhood of Boston on March 18.

The restaurant and Violence in Boston’s Social Impact Team, in collaboration, have been feeding up to 1,000 people each day since they began offering free meals.


Different types of wrapped bread and apples in a crate on table outside mosque (© Kathy Willens/AP Images)
(© Kathy Willens/AP Images)

Packages of bread and a crate of apples for passersby to take are seen on a table outside the Masjid at-Taqwa, a mosque that is closed to worship due to the coronavirus pandemic, on March 26 in the Brooklyn borough of New York.