Extracurricular activities are no longer limited to just athletics, student government and the school newspaper. Increasingly, community service and volunteer work are becoming popular high school extracurricular activities.
In fact, many high schools are making community service a requirement for graduation and many colleges are using volunteer work as a metric for admission.
Here is how you can get involved and find teen volunteering opportunities.
Check for volunteering opportunities at school
If your teen is looking for volunteer opportunities, check with his or her school. It may partner with a local homeless shelter or a service organization. The school also might have a Best Buddies program, helping students with autism and other learning disabilities to form meaningful friendships.
Volunteering organizations to check out
If no programs are offered through your teen’s school, here are some volunteer programs that your teen can become involved with to give back to the local community:
Bake cookies at home and then deliver them to a local nursing home or community center, or an elderly neighbor through Kids Cook to Care. Or make a handmade blanket for a sick child through Project Linus.
GenerationOn, the youth service division of Points of Light, is looking for teens to do hands-on service projects throughout the holiday season, including creating holiday cards for children in hospitals, preparing shoeboxes filled with age-appropriate gifts for needy children and making holiday treat bags for dogs without homes.
Your child can team up with other teenagers in your neighborhood through DoSomething.org. Enter your ZIP code to find teens working on community service projects, including sports equipment drives, clothing drives and waste cleanup projects. Volunteer Match will also help your teen find opportunities in your neighborhood.
Other ways for teens to get involved with volunteering
If your teen can’t find a local volunteer opportunity, here are some ideas to help him or her create their own community service projects.
- Donate clothes, toys and household goods to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army.
- Collect toiletries from friends and family members and donate them to a local homeless shelter.
- Donate non-perishables to the local food bank. Consider organizing a neighborhood food drive.
- Write to your local member of Congress about an issue you are passionate about.
- Collect used books and magazines for the local homeless shelter or hospital.
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
- Rake leaves, shovel snow or read to an elderly neighbor.
- Volunteer to coach younger children in a sport you love.
Volunteering is a great way for teens to build up their resume as they get ready to apply to college. It’s also a good time to start planning for how to pay for higher education. Here are some helpful ways to get financial aid for your child.