Volunteering in Your Community

You've probably heard the saying that money isn't everything. Well, it's true, especially when it comes to volunteering and community service. There are a number of benefits you'll get that don't add up in dollars and cents but do add up to open doors in your future.

Community service looks good on a college application. Admissions staff members look for applicants who have volunteered and done community service in addition to earning good grades. You could have gotten top grades, but if that's all that's on your application, you won't come across as a well-rounded person.

Community service lets you try out careers. How will you know you'll like a certain type of work if you haven't experienced it? For instance, you might think you want to work in the health-care field. Volunteering in a hospital will let you know if this is really what you want to do.

Community service is an American tradition. You'll be able to meet some of your own community's needs and join with all of the people who have contributed their talents to our country. No matter what your talents, there are unlimited ways for you to serve your community. Take a look at your interests, and then see how they can be applied to help others. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Do you like kids? Volunteer at your local parks and recreation department, for a Little League team, or as a big brother or sister.
  • Planning a career in health care? Volunteer at a blood bank, clinic, hospital, retirement home, or hospice. There are also several organizations that raise money for disease research.
  • Interested in the environment? Volunteer to assist in a recycling program. Create a beautification program for your school or community. Plant trees and flowers or design a community garden.
  • Just say no. Help others stay off drugs and alcohol by volunteering at a crisis center, hotline, or prevention program. Help educate younger kids about the dangers of drug abuse.
  • Lend a hand. Collect money, food, or clothing for the homeless. Food banks, homeless shelters, and charitable organizations need your help.
  • Is art your talent? Share your knowledge and skills with youngsters, the elderly, or local arts organizations that depend on volunteers to help present their plays, recitals, and exhibitions.
  • Help fight crime. Form a neighborhood watch or organize a group to clean up graffiti.
  • Your church or synagogue may have projects that need youth volunteers. The United Way, your local politician's office, civic groups, and special interest organizations also provide exceptional opportunities to serve your community. Ask your principal, teachers, or counselors for additional ideas.

For more information on joining in the spirit of youth volunteerism, write to the Federal Citizen Information Center, Pueblo, Colorado 81009, and request the Catch the Spirit booklet.