It’s easy to see why some teens and adults feel stymied by the overwhelming array of problems that exist in our world today. Pollution. Homelessness. Hunger. Terrorism. Animal abuse. Lack of quality education for all. Racism. Sexism. Depression. Teen suicide. Unfortunately, the list goes on and on.
But, it’s just as easy to be inspired by acts of kindness and heroism to do your part -– no matter how small -– to make the world a better place. Every good deed counts. Any high school community service work done from the heart is worthy.
Why commit to community service?
If you or your teen need encouragement, here are several reasons to commit to community service while still in high school:
- Accept your responsibility as a citizen of the world: You can single-handedly make a difference in the life of one person in your community and you can also support the collective efforts of people chipping away at widespread problems.
- Gain a sense of empowerment: Develop leadership, communications, and interpersonal skills. Perhaps get exposure to career options, too. Volunteering is a great thing to have on your high school resume.
- Appreciate all that you have: It’s natural to lose perspective and obsess about fleeting problems such as too much homework or lack of a date for the prom. Gaining exposure to challenges others face and the way they overcome problems provides valuable life lessons and sheds a new light on your own issues.
- Fulfill graduation community service requirement: Many towns and schools require specified hours of service to graduate.
- Strengthen your college application: Colleges value in-depth and ongoing volunteer experiences, so get going! And volunteering often gives you great topics for college essays.
- Meet like-minded people: Community service broadens your circle of acquaintances and friends.
Ways to serve
There are lots of ways to give back to your community or the greater world. You can find more ideas in our list of 50 community service ideas for teens.
- Volunteer your time: Manual labor and office work may not be alluring, but are definitely needed by most nonprofits.
- Offer your expertise: Are you an artist, computer programmer, a strong writer, good athlete?
- Collect goods for people in need: Donate food, clothing, old cell phones, toys, sports equipment.
- Raise funds: Charge for your services, organize a fundraiser, donate a portion of your after-school job earnings, sell your crafts.
- Buy from companies that give back: Spend your own money wisely by choosing organizations that donate a portion of their proceeds to charity, employ underserved populations, or are eco-friendly.
- Advocate for others: Generate awareness of issues important to you by writing to your state and federal government representatives; submitting an article to your school newspaper; creating a Google group, Facebook page, blog.
- Practice deliberate acts of kindness: Talk to a peer who seems lonely, offer your seat on the subway to someone standing, bring the newspaper up to your neighbor’s door on a cold or rainy day.
As you think about doing your part to heal the world, remember the words of Helen Keller (1880 – 1968), “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”