Students may view volunteer work as just another honor society or college application requirement. Volunteering doesn’t have to be a chore or a box to check off. Thinking about the “why” behind volunteering can turn volunteering into a passion. Do you enjoy playing a musical instrument or helping your grandmother with technology?
Volunteering in high school can go beyond just a resume listing. Tailored to a student’s passions, it can relate to potential career paths, life interests and the community.
Students with a music focus have a wide range of options. From community orchestras to playing taps at military funerals, music talents and volunteering can combine even if a music major isn’t the college plan.
- Be a part of the Tri-M Music Honor Society
- Trumpet volunteer to play taps at military funerals
- Collect instruments through a site like Charity Music
- Play in a local community or faith-based orchestra
- Perform for hospital patients through a program like lifeBeat
Based in Faith
From mission trips to helping in classes, there are a variety of choices in local places of worship and through international organizations.
- Mission trips through local or international faith-based organizations
- Assist on-site in nurseries or classes
- Help with clean-up or repairs at your church, temple, or mosque
- Work with faith-based organizations in community partnerships
- Volunteer with organizations like Samaritan’s Purse or the The Salvation Army
Find a Community Base
Finding volunteer opportunities can be as simple as looking into the community. From summer feeding programs to Meals on Wheels, there are many hands-on volunteer opportunities to serve in your area.
- Deliver Meals on Wheels to the elderly
- Volunteer at a local hospital
- Work with Special Olympics or Best Buddies programs
- Generation Connect or other programs to work with elderly and technology
- Prepare meals, serve in food drives or stock your local food bank
- Help at homeless programs or area shelters; TeenLife’s listings offer opportunities across the country
- Assist with Summer Meal programs by preparing, packing or distributing food
- Americorps program
Teaching and Education
If education and teaching are a passion, students can volunteer to tutor peers at school but also look to events like Math Nights, science and children’s museums or helping coach sports teams. Or help underprivileged students further their educations by collecting supplies for educational organizations.
- Tutoring at school
- Help with kid’s sports teams as volunteer coach or referee
- Math and science nights
- Science and Children’s Museums
- Work with the African Library Project to collect books for a community in Africa
- Lead computer science workshops with Hack4Change
Building and Outdoor Projects
Volunteering doesn’t have to be indoors. Habitat for Humanity is maybe the most recognizable option, but students can also help at options like community gardens or marine biology programs. Check out TeenLife’s listings for options from working on a local organic farm to helping clean up urban parks.
- Habitat for Humanity
- Marine biology volunteer programs like National Marine Sanctuaries
- Girl Scouts
- Boy Scouts
Through volunteer work and shadow programs, students can also get a look at future careers. In high school, career organizations combine competitions, courses and community opportunities to help guide students.
Make the most of your volunteering
As students volunteer, keeping track of hours on a centralized page and signatures/names/contact information is important. A student can begin volunteering at any point but starting early can be crucial. Beginning in middle or elementary school can help build experience as organizations may have levels of responsibility. While volunteering at any point is valuable, if students wait until their junior year to start, colleges may view as less altruistic and more college application driven.
Being intentional with volunteering can help students not just volunteer but also find their passion. Whether students are volunteering at their church, school or in the community, they should expect to work with the same respect and ethics as a paid job. High school volunteer work isn’t a stopping point. Continuing volunteer work into college and adulthood can be a lifelong way to serve and give back.