Volunteer and service projects are usually a high school graduate requirement or a great addition to a college application. Who doesn’t want to see all the ways you’ve helped out in the community or better yet, the world! With summer just around the corner, here are some ideas that you can do over the warmer months, on the weekend, or even in your spare time right now – the possibilities are truly endless!
1. Donate. If you don’t have much time but want to still cross off volunteering on your checklist then this is the way to go. There’s tons of ways you can give and we’ve put a few below for you.
- Clothes. Go through your closet, your drawers, the piles of clothes on the floor and see what you can give to your local shelter, Salvation Army, or Goodwill. Guaranteed there are items that you no longer wear or haven’t touched in years, like that rhinestone tank top or oversized sports t-shirt.
- Food. Take a look in your pantry and see if there are any cans of soup, vegetables, or fruits that are about to expire or you don’t think you will ever use and donate it to a food bank. Better yet, next time you’re at the store, ask if you can purchase a few extra canned goods, they are usually under $2 and go a long way to help those in need.
- Toys. Remember those Barbies you used to play with or the electric car you would drive to be just like your parents? Well check in with the hospitals nearby and see if they will accept lightly used toys for those kids who are currently in the hospital. And if not, keep a lookout because there are usually toy drives during the winter months where you can give a purchased toy!
2. Fight for a cause. If you are passionate about an issue, enjoy writing, and want to share your thoughts with others than consider taking action.
- Write a letter. Grab your laptop and begin writing to your Congressman. Share your thoughts about an issue, include ways to improve the situation or an alternative solution. A letter from a young person who cares about the future is rare this day in age.
- Social Media. If social media is your niche then a few Tweets, DM’s, and FB posts to the right people can definitely make an impact. Maybe you’ll gain a following and who knows, you might even start a new movement!
3. Volunteer. More than likely you have a few hours free time this week or a free Saturday/Sunday in the upcoming month and what better way to use that time than by helping others!
- Event Volunteer. There are tons of events happening especially over the summer months from a community movie night, Relay for Life, or a Dance Marathon. Check online and see what is happening near you. There’s probably a volunteer tab you can click on to find out more info and how to sign up.
- Animal Shelter. If you’re an animal person, and who isn’t, then this is a great way to spend your time. Just think of hanging out with adorable dogs or cats for several hours and making some new bff’s. Sure you might have to clean up after them – but let’s not think about that!
- Nature Reserve Clean Up. Does hiking or an afternoon surfing sound like an ideal way to spend your time? If so, see if there are any clean ups happening because if you spend most of your time outdoors, you might as well contribute to making it a clean place.
4. Help a Neighbor. More than likely there is someone you know, your parents know, or a neighbor that could use a little bit of help. So why not ask and offer assistance! Here are some ways you might be able to help:
- Housework. Ask if you can mow someone’s lawn for free, weed their yard, or walk their pet! There are endless possibilities within this realm.
- Errands. Perhaps there is someone who could use a ride to the grocery store, a doctors appointment, or help driving their kids to activities in the evening. Whether you volunteer for several weeks, one day a week, or something else, the thought and intention is what counts.
- Tutor/Mentor. See if there is someone in a grade below you at school, a friend’s sibling, or even a local program where you can tutor other students in a subject, or be a mentor. Working with others can make a bigger impact than you know.
These are only a few service projects for teens that can earn you service hours for high school credit or additional info on your resume. Think outside of the box, do something your passionate about, and talk to others for even more ideas! Service not only makes a difference for others, but it also has a lasting impact on yourself.
Contributed by Samantha Watkins