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6 Reasons to Do Community Service on Your Spring Break

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Teen Volunteers

You could spend your spring break playing Fortnite until your eyes glaze over, binging rom-coms on Netflix or sleeping like a bear in deepest hibernation mode.

You could do that, or you could spend those free days volunteering. There’s no shortage of organizations and agencies that could use a helping hand and many of the tasks don’t require special experience.

Where to find a community service opportunity?

Hospitals, libraries, food banks, nature sanctuaries and animal shelters are among the places near you that need a steady supply of volunteers. Your parents, teachers and coaches might have some suggestions or connections to help you find the right fit.

Your local United Way might be able to connect you with some local groups that have a steady need for volunteers, or you can simply do a Google search for teen volunteer opportunities in your town.

TeenLife has listings for thousands of non-profit organizations in all 50 states that accept teen volunteers under 18. These groups are working on everything from caring for animals to running homeless shelters. Check it out to find some opportunities that might work for you.

OK, but why should you consider spring break community service? Here are some reasons that helping out will help you and help others.

Give your school applications a boost.

Volunteering is all about helping others, but it’s OK if there’s a little payoff for you. Admissions officers like to know that you care about something beyond yourself and your school. A stint as a volunteer is evidence of that. If your volunteering exceeds your expectations in some way, that could turn into good fodder for an application essay. Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I organized a beach clean-up? By the time the coast was clear, we’d all had a pretty good day.

Make the world a better place.

This is what’s all about. Almost any nonprofit you can think of has too much to do and not enough resources to get it all done. The memories you make from a week of partying or just chilling probably won’t end up being precious memories. What if you pitched in when Habitat for Humanity builds a house for a struggling family or helped a librarian create a new children’s program? Not only will you be making memories, you’ll also be making a lasting difference.

Build skills.

Sure, a school vacation is intended to give your brain a break, but that doesn’t mean you have to turn it entirely off. Depending on what group you connect with, you could learn some new computer skills or something more hands-on, like the nitty-gritty techniques of trail maintenance or facility repairs. Teen volunteers bring a high level of energy, so your supervisors will be excited for the chance to help you learn a few things.

Get to know your hometown better.

There’s a lot more going in your hometown than you realize. Volunteering at a museum or historical attraction will give you a better sense of how your town got to be the way it is. Helping out at a social service agency or government office will give you a new insight into what’s working and what needs improvement. Or maybe it’s as simple as spending a few days in a neighborhood that’s not part of your daily travels and picking up on the sights and sounds of some new turf.

Meet new people.

The people who work at nonprofits aren’t in it for the money. They do it because they love the work they do. That kind of dedication is inspirational and being around these folks might give you some new heroes. They’ll want to get to know you and why you chose to spend a week as a volunteer. In exchange, they probably have some cool stories to share about how they got into the work they’re doing. They just might change the way you look at the world.

Grab some good karma.

Not to get all touchy-feely, but there is a lot of truth to the notion that what goes around, comes around. There’s no guarantee that the universe will repay your good deeds by giving you a break when you need it most, but it’s kind of surprising how often things turn out that way.

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Bill O'Neill-profile-picture

Bill O’Neill graduated from Harvard College with a degree in economics and he’s been working with words ever since. He’s been a Lifestyle department editor at a daily newspaper and wrote PR and fundraising materials for nonprofits focused on affordable housing and animal welfare. As a freelance writer, he focuses on stories about family life, health and pop culture. Bill lives on Cape Cod, where he enjoys biking, hiking and kayaking.