I did the math, and engaging in community service during high school earned me $67 an hour. Yes, you read that right. I earned a full scholarship to college, largely in part because of the hours I committed to giving back. No student loans for me!
Community service is so near and dear to me, not only because of the financial rewards but because I truly love every second I put into it. That is because I find causes that are meaningful and align with my values. In a previous post, I offered 3 steps explaining how to use your, or if you’re a parent, help out your college-bound teen use their time wisely to make the community service portion of your college application shine.
A lot of the ideas featured will also give you an opportunity to get involved with community service and require leadership, another important area to highlight on a college application. (Read more about the four areas I believe all college-bound high school students should pay attention to here.)
Community Service with Kids in School
- Contact your local elementary and offer free tutoring services after school.
- Love computers? Art? Music? Find the email addresses of those teachers on the local elementary school’s website and ask if there is any way you can get involved!
- Host a book drive or supplies drive! Many schools are underfunded and in desperate need of basic supplies. You can have a huge impact here.
- This one can be tricky but if you can work with your school and a partnering school to come in and help out during school hours as a classroom aid, or a book buddy, this would be a fantastic way to give back.
- STEM is a huge hot button topic right now. If you are able to organize a science fair at your school or a neighboring school, that shows interest in a specific area and leadership.
Love Animals? Plenty of Community Service Opportunities There!
- Shelters often need blankets, towels, and other household items for the animals. Reach out to local shelters and help host a supplies drive!
- Have a special skill when it comes to training animals? Offer complimentary dog training classes, or see if you can help out in an agency that offers this service.
- Contact a local farm and see if you can help out! Maybe they need an extra hand caring for the animals, or perhaps could use your help collecting supplies.
- Shelters are always looking for a helping hand. Check out the websites of local shelters and see if there is a volunteering page.
- If there is a rehab clinic for rescued animals, give them a call or shoot them an email and see how you can help, whether that means giving your time to help directly, or collecting supplies they may lack.
Faith Based Organizations have Tons of Volunteering Opportunities
- Organize or volunteer with existing youth groups.
- Host yard sales or bake sales to raise money for your institution.
- Have a skill you’re really good at? Teach a class or offer services to members of your congregation.
- Raise money for an organization by hosting a car wash through your faith based institution.
- Organize a food or clothing drive for a less fortunate parish or nonprofit.
Make an Environmental Impact Doing Community Service
- Live near a beach or visiting one during vacation? Organize or join a beach clean up!
- Maybe a local park or even your school could use some sprucing. Get permission to beautify the space with art or by planting.
- School go through a lot of paper! There could be a way that you could get involved making sure paper or plastic is properly recycled at school or in your neighborhood.
- Educate others about their environmental impact. If you get involved with an organization or program with children, teach a lesson surrounding the theme “reduce, reuse, recycle.”
- Do a quick google search and see if there are any nearby organizations that focus on the environment as see how you can get involved. Nonprofits are always looking for a helping hand!
Give Back to Those Who Serve Our Country
- Contact your nearest VA hospital and ask if there are volunteer opportunities available to high school students.
- Collect items for the VA.
- Organize or participate in a letter and care package sending campaign for those currently on active duty.
- Many of our country’s veterans are currently homeless. Contact a local shelter and inquire about how you can get involved.
- Host a “prom” or some kind of event at your school for veterans (or senior citizens!)
Does the Issue of Homelessness Tug at Your Heartstrings?
- Reach out to a nearby homeless shelter and ask what products they could use. Many places have plenty of clothing donations but need things like hygiene products or socks. Once you have this information organize a drive through your school or faith based organization.
- Help directly at a soup kitchen. A lot of times people are willing to give their time during the holidays, but shelters and soup kitchens could use a hand year round. Contact a local organization and find out how you can help directly!
- A lot of nonprofits, like shelters, could use money. Set up a fundraising event, such as a bake sale or car wash and donate the proceeds.
- Local food pantries often need nonperishable items. Reach out and see if a food drive could be helpful. Organize one through your school or faith based organization.
- Homelessness a systemic issue, do a little research and write to your local legislators about how life can be made better in your area for those that are homeless. A lot of laws and policies make life more difficult for people without secure housing.
Having a robust history of community service can really make a college application stand out. Taking initiative and organizing also displays leadership. Getting involved also make us feel good, especially if it is a cause that is meaningful to you!
Parents! We have something for you too. If you also want to give back but struggle to fit doing into your lifestyle, listen to episode 7 of the Dream Chasers and Change Makers podcast! We talk to Kristiana Tarnuzzer of The Cause Bar, an organization dedicated to integrating giving back into your life style.
Are you or your college-bound teen already engaging in community service during high school? Tell us about it in the comments and leave some more inspiration for our readers!
Betty Carricaburu | Ms.Ed