Community Service Ideas For Teens: a Guide to Volunteer Opportunities for Teenagers
If you are in high school, you are probably thinking about applying to college. Maybe you have graduation requirements to fulfill. Perhaps you just want to give back to your community. Volunteering can be fun, educational, and a rewarding experience. You're excited, but also confused about how to get started.
It’s never too late to start volunteering your time towards a cause. If you want to volunteer, but feel a bit overwhelmed, I’ve provided a comprehensive list of types of services that are needed. You will also learn how to find the right organization that fits your interests, along with the top website databases to find these volunteer opportunities.
Stand out from other college applicants!
Why Volunteer? Benefits of Volunteering!
- Give back! Volunteering is a meaningful and helpful way to give back to your community. It is a selfless act that speaks volume about your character.
- Impress college admissions counselors! The college admissions counselors love to see a well rounded candidate who gives back to the community. They want to know who you really are and examples of your commitment and dedication. For example, if you are interested in soccer, and have aspirations of being a sports therapist, why did you spend 10 hours wrapping gift boxes at the mall? It does not show your genuine interest in helping people. Your better choice would be to volunteer as a soccer coach aid.
- Have fun! Meet new people! This is a chance to make new friends of similar interest. Learn how to network with important people in your community.
- Gain valuable skills and experience! College will teach you academics, but not really prepare you for the outside real world. Whether you help plant a tree or help pass flyers out for a local business man, you can experience and learn the real world through hands-on work.
- Fulfill graduation requirements. Depending on your school, you may be able to earn academic credits for volunteer work. I suggest that you visit your counselor for more information.
Finding the right volunteer organization!
With so many different volunteer organizations available, it can be difficult and overwhelming to choose from. I suggest you research on the different organizations and understand their mission and philosophy. You may want to contact the coordinator and ask more questions if needed.
Questions to ask:
- What does your organization do?
- Who do you serve?
- What is the time commitment?
- What are the responsibilities?
First Lady Michelle Obama speaks about community service.
Before you go volunteering, ask yourself these questions first...
If you are considering volunteering, it is good to ask yourself these important questions to better match yourself with the service work.
My best advice to you is to choose a service that matches with either your current interest or career interest. You will have more fun!
- What are your interests and hobbies? For example, are you an athlete or do you like to cook?
- How many hours can you commit each week? Once a week, or a few hours a month?
- What skills would you like to acquire or improve on?
- What skills can you offer to the organization?
- What kind of environment do you feel comfortable?
- What age group do you want to work with?
- How far are you willing to drive?
Here is a list of more fun volunteer opportunities!
- Coach. Are you athletic? Help local coaches run little league baseball games!
- Work at a marathon. Help pass out water, Gatorade, and cheer for your local athletes.
- Special Olympics. Sign up to become an assistant coach or referee and help them run these sporting events!
- Tutor kids at the local library.
- Be a mentor. Make a difference in a child's life by being a "Bigger Brother/Sister."
- Work in the soup kitchen! Pass out food or help package and deliver meals.
- Help build houses! Habitat of humanity is always looking for an extra set of hands to help build houses for families in need. Contact the Youth Program coordinator through their website: Habitat for Humanity
- Go green. Join a community environment clean-up or recycling project.
- Senior home. Many senior citizen centers offer volunteer programs to help read, prepare meals, or simply spend some quality time with them!
- American Red Cross has a section called Junior Red Cross. You can help run a blood drive or diabetes function. Find out by visiting their website: American Red Cross
- Humane Society. Are you an animal lover? There are many shelters that run on donations and volunteers to help save an animal’s life. Many animal shelters are non profit and they welcome volunteers to help take care of animals, walk and feed the dogs, or keep the facilities clean.
- Political Campaigns. Are you interests in politics? Maybe you want to help a candidate win an election by passing out flyers.
Volunteer Opportunities: Search Online!
Click on these websites to find organizations that can help you figure out how and where to get involved in your community.
Just type in your "zip code" and “interest,” and they will give a comprehensive list shown by type of service, organization, location, and dates available. Once you click on the one that interest you, it will take you to another page that gives you more detailed contact information.
- This site provides you with access to 72,127 active volunteer opportunities. Volunteer Match is all about community, and they've partnered up with nonprofit, business,, and government leaders to provide diverse opportunities for teenagers.
- This site is a custom volunteer opportunity oriented search engine that is powered by the largest database of volunteer opportunities. Their database includes many prominent non-profit partners as well as those provided directly by smaller, grass roots based organizations.
- Once you've browsed their site and found something you like, you have to create an account with them, and sign up for volunteer opportunities. This site differs from the other because of the addition of being able to sign up as a group. If you have a few friends who want to join, you, you can simply “create groups” and contact them on your group’s behalf. Also, you can easily keep track of your services hours.
- The wonderful thing about this website is the ability to earn awards! What a great way to boost your college application and impress the admissions counselors!
- You can apply or nominate others for the service awards. Here is an example of awards that you can earn and include in your college application: "National family Volunteer Award," "President's Volunteer Service Award," and "Award for Excellence in Workplace Volunteer Programs."
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