Food sorting. Group of volunteers packing donation for homeless into paper bags, working in office, copy space. Most students are focused on school, sports, and socializing, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you or your students are looking for something more meaningful and productive to do on the weekends or with free time, volunteering is a great idea. There are countless volunteer opportunities for students, and each option comes with a slew of benefits and advantages both for the students and others involved. Take a look at the primary benefits that all volunteer opportunities for students will offer, several ways for students to get involved in their communities, and how to find volunteer opportunities in your area.
Benefits of Participating in Volunteer Opportunities for Students
The best part about students volunteering is that they get to contribute to their community. Whether they’re serving food at a homeless shelter, building homes in a local neighborhood, or spending time with the elderly at a nearby retirement home, it feels good to give back. The community will benefit from having more people loved on and cared for, and students will experience a sense of accomplishment, significance, and joy when they serve others. Additionally, students can gain important skills while volunteering. This might be physical skills like learning how to lay a roof or fix a car, or it may be interpersonal skills like compassion, empathy, and understanding. Students can often take on leadership roles in their volunteer position, allowing them the opportunity to help others and grow as a leader. Volunteer opportunities for students often give them access to a wide network of individuals in their community, some of which may be important individuals within a particular industry or in the community itself. It always helps to have connections, especially for students looking to go into certain fields, and volunteering alongside CEOs and other executives will only benefit the student. Volunteering also looks great on applications, both those for college and jobs. Admissions boards and employers like to see that students care about others and are willing and able to serve others and put their community before their own needs. Another big benefit of students volunteering is the difference it makes in the community. It can build awareness of issues in an area, and it can bring about radical change to a neighborhood or city when people help others and then bring the needs to the rest of their community.
5 Ways for Students to Get Involved in the Community
Help Other Kids
Whether you volunteer at a camp, coach a sports team, or tutor younger students, helping other kids is a great way for students to get involved in the community. You may have had an older student or adult assist you at a pivotal time in your life and know that it meant a lot—you can be that person to a younger child! Use your skills, interests, and hobbies and give back to the community by serving other kids. Just like you, kids of all ages are our future, so the more we pour into them when they’re young, the more our community will benefit in the future.
Take Care of Animals
If you love animals, there are plenty of ways for students to get involved in the community by serving animals. Volunteer at a local animal shelter, foster pets, or become an advocate for no-kill shelters. You may be able to work with a national park or wildlife rescue organization, or you may be able to secure a volunteer opportunity with a veterinarian. Especially if you’re interested in working with animals in a future career, getting involved with animals as a student is a great way to volunteer.
Clean up the Environment
If you are passionate about the environment, get involved in an organization that feels the same. You can start a highway cleanup crew, join an advocacy group for reducing emissions, volunteer with a property conservation organization, or find a group that supports marine wildlife protection. There are countless volunteer opportunities for students when it comes to the environment, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one near you.
Prepare or Serve Food
Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries and more are constantly looking for volunteers. Maybe you have a passion for cooking, maybe you think you’d be great at organizing a giant pantry full of food, or maybe you just want to meet the basic needs of those in your community. Several places will take on student volunteers to prepare, package, collect, and serve food, and this is a great way to meet a tangible need of individuals in your area.
Love on the Elderly
Retirement homes are full of people who get very few visitors, and they are always looking for volunteers to come spend time with their residents. Go play a musical set list, join in on bingo night, or simply sit and read with a senior citizen who doesn’t have a lot of visitors. Students may be surprised at what they can learn from the elderly and how their lives can be radically impacted by spending time with an older generation.
How to Find Volunteer Opportunities for Students Near You
If you’re searching for ways for students to get involved in the community, it helps to narrow down your search to what you’d like to do. If you’re not certain, doing a general search can give you some ideas and a starting place to delve deeper into specific organizations and ways to serve. Here are a handful of places for you to start looking for volunteer opportunities for students:
- United Way
- Red Cross
- Habitat for Humanity
- Local Libraries
- Food Pantries
- Animal Shelters
- Retirement Homes
- Girl/Boy Scouts
- Foster Programs
- Local Hospitals
Students can make a big difference in their communities and they will enjoy many benefits of volunteering in their area. Start with this list to get some ideas of how and where you would like to serve, and we’re confident you’ll enjoy your experience and gain a great deal from it, in addition to imparting change in your city.