There is really no age requirement for volunteering. In fact, the earlier that volunteering begins and continues throughout childhood, the more likely a person is to participate in community activities as an adult. Whether a participant reaches out to one person or an entire village across the world, he or she has made a significant difference in the life of another. This article presents a few of the many volunteer ideas for different age groups.
1 – Volunteer Ideas for Elementary School Children
Some elementary school teachers adopt a retirement community or nursing home and their students each year have the opportunity to visit elderly residents. The interaction between youth and age is a priceless connection. Although students often visit to perform a play, skit or music, it is the one-on-one sharing and listening that have the most impact.
City, county and state parks across the country struggle to maintain common areas due to budget cuts and staff shortages. Children in small supervised groups can pull weeds, pick up litter and sweep sidewalks and pathways. Call local parks departments and ask when clean-up days are scheduled.
Through bake sales children can raise funds to help children in their community need clothes and school supplies. The parent-teacher group or staff members at the school may spearhead the fund raising project. The adults in charge should determine whether to adopt a children’s home or give the proceeds to another charity organization in the community.
Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC has partnered with UNICEF to raise money to purchase desks for children in Malawi. Elementary school children in the USA have adopted the project, called Kids In Need of Desks (KIND). Most of the children in Africa attending school sit on the floor for the entire school day, and teachers stand for as long as seven hours. One desk seats three students, and a donation of $16 buys desk space for one student.
2- Volunteer Ideas for Middle School Students
Sign up to work with the Sierra Student Coalition, which is a student-operated division of the Sierra Club. Although a popular volunteering choice for high school and college students, younger students are encouraged to participate. The organization holds training courses in the summer for new volunteers interested in helping with environmental concerns such as energy alternatives and energy conservation.
There is always a need for tutors, and middle schoolers can have a positive impact on younger students by helping them master science, reading, writing, math or history. Find out if your middle school has a list of elementary schools in the area that need tutors. Another idea is to form a tutoring group with other middle school students and approach a teacher or administrator at the your school to help with the arrangements.
City, county and state libraries depend on volunteers to keep books and magazines organized and ready for public access. Volunteer to work after school or on a Saturday, and you will not only learn how a library is organized, but benefit by helping others find books and research material. When you are ready to complete a school project, that knowledge will be put to efficient use.
Nearly every community has a food pantry that collects and warehouses perishable and non-perishable items. Soup kitchens across America depend on these food pantries for supplies, and volunteers receive and put away donations. During food drives conducted by a local church or community organization, the regular food pantry volunteers can be overwhelmed and need assistance. Contact the food pantries in your area to find out if volunteers are needed or when they anticipate an increase in donation volume. Arrange to help as a school club project.
3- Volunteer Ideas for High School Students
Organize a fund raising campaign for disaster relief efforts provided by the Red Cross. Your school club or class can get students to wash cars, or hold performances at the school auditorium with all proceeds going to support Red Cross efforts in the USA and abroad.
There are community services agencies through the country dedicated to planting trees. Visit Arbor Day’s website for specific projects in your state and city. Tree planting as part of a beautification campaign or replenishment project is a great volunteer idea for a school or church club.
Sometimes the transition from elementary to middle school can be a challenge, and high school students can offer assistance in all subjects to seventh and eighth graders. In addition to the regular academic subjects, you can offer to assist a coach in basketball or soccer.
4- Volunteer Ideas for College Students
Organize a blood drive for the Red Cross. Visit the site to learn how this organization works with volunteers in the community from start to finish to run a successful blood donation campaign. Local blood banks are nearly always in need of replenishment as red blood cells are needed for surgeries, plasma is used to aid burn victims and blood platelets provide hope for leukemia patients. According to the Red Cross site, ten blood donors can save up to 30 lives.
Work through an established club on campus to raise funds for local musicians and other performing artists. Perhaps you have a talented quartet or small symphony at your college. Check with the music or drama department about opportunities to support the performing arts on your campus.
Volunteer at an animal shelter or refuge. Animals in these conditions are in need of human care and contact, which helps them socialize and hastens adoption. Volunteers clean inside and outside areas and work with cats and dogs on the premises.
5- Volunteer Ideas for Parents and Families
Sign up to assist in a Soup Kitchen. While holidays are the traditional time for families to volunteer at a soup kitchen, the need for help is year round. Visit the Homeless Shelter Directory to find the soup kitchen in your area. Many have found this volunteer opportunity to be rewarding for all family members, especially if you have children who are in middle school or older.
Get involved with environmental projects in their community through Clean Up the World or the United Nations Environment Program. According to their website, “Clean Up the World is a global campaign that inspires and empowers communities to clean up, fix up and conserve their environment. Held in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program, it mobilizes an estimated 35 million people across 120 countries each year.”
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure holds events to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer. Races are held in many major cities throughout the country, and you can visit the organization’s site to find a race in your community. There are many other ways to get involved in Race for the Cure besides running, and they include becoming an advocate and holding other types of fund raising events at the office or with your friends.
Regardless of your age or circumstance, volunteering opportunities abound. The chances to make a contribution to one other person or to an entire group are not reserved for adults. Children as young as six can learn how they can help their community, and when an entire family participates each member comes away with life-changing memories.
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