Identifying Volunteer Opportunities for Teens

My Ideal College shares how to identify volunteer opportunities for teens.

This weekend my family and I had the honor of participating in Wreaths Across America. The organization’s mission is to remember, honor, and teach by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 1,400 locations all across the U.S., at sea, and abroad. We along with several hundred at one of our local military cemeteries place a live wreath on the soldiers’ graves. It was a humbling experience for myself, my husband, and my boys. Taking a moment to recognize and reflect what these men and women did to preserve our freedom and think of the ones who continue to do so today.

Opportunities, like Wreaths Across America, are important for our kids to do for many reasons. These opportunities can:

  • Teach the importance of being selfless
  • Allow them to gain new or practice particularskills
  • Increase exposure to different careers that theymight want to pursue
  • Help in the college application process to showthat your child is not only focused on academics but also contributing to the community

Many high schools now require our kids to have volunteer, or service, hours to graduate. I have seen ranges from 40 – 100 hours for this requirement. I have also heard that some scholarships require service hours.

Of course, every kid is different in their motivation ingetting their service hours done. There is a teen at our local martial artscenter who is always coordinating collection drives and fundraisers. Then there are kids, like mine, who you have to “guide,” also known as nagging, them tofind volunteer opportunities and go do them.

Here are some tips you can use to help your child create opportunities that are meaningful for them:

Identify Their Interests: What does your child like to do? Do they like being creative, exercising, building things, cooking, speaking? Do they like being around pets, kids, more senior adults?

Brainstorm Ideas: See how you could combine their interests and who they like being around. For example, if they enjoy exercising and being around kids, they could volunteer to be a sports coach. If they like building and pets, they could offer to build things for a local shelter. If they like to paint and being with the elderly, they could teach a painting class at a local retirement community.

Volunteer hours for teens can be more than collecting food or clothing. Help your child get creative in coming up with ways. If you need some inspiration, check out Sign-Up Genius article 50 Community Service Ideas for Teen Volunteers.

My most important tip is to make sure your kid keeps track of all the volunteer hours they do from 9th – 12th grade. They will need this information when they fill out college applications. If you need help organizing, check out the My Ideal College Countdown Organizer. The organizer tells you exactly what to do and provides a place to keep track of it all.

What are some volunteer opportunities for teens you have seen or participated in? Tell us in the comments below. It could provide some excellent guidance for another parent.

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