Teenagers are not only extremely creative but also open to new ideas and experiences. In a world obsessed with ‘achievements’ and ‘wants,’ we can’t let teens grow up without empathy for the less fortunate or gratitude for what they have.
One of the best ways of teaching empathy to teens is by engaging them in volunteering. If they see how enriching the experience is from a young age, they’ll continue doing it even when they become adults.
Read this post to know how volunteering benefits teens and learn a few volunteer opportunities that they can take up.
Why Teens Should Take Up Volunteer Opportunities
Here are a few ways in which taking up volunteering opportunities benefit teenagers.
- Helps them make a difference: Volunteering is an excellent route to show teens first-hand what they’re capable of doing. Playing with foster kittens, cleaning a beach or neighborhood, or feeding the homeless demonstrates that beyond looks, grades, and money, their time and effort have a greater impact on those around them. They also learn that even the smallest acts of love and kindness count.
- Helps them build appreciation: You can let your teen know that numerous animals and people out there need help. Getting out there and understanding the predicament of families living from hand to mouth can give them perspective. Soon, not getting their new pair of jeans or a new gadget won’t seem as bad.
- Helps them know their worth: In a society obsessed with academic achievement, teens need to know that report cards aren’t the only thing that reflects their self-worth. As a parent, you want a well-rounded child, so you should encourage them to look beyond the realm of academics. Volunteering is a way for every teen to feel competent.
- Helps them widen their social circle: A teen’s social circle is primarily friends from school and family. While volunteering, teens get the opportunity to meet people outside of their usual circle. Volunteering lets your teen meet like-minded people, and who knows, some of them could positively impact their future. Moreover, they’ll learn how to communicate, behave, and mingle with people from various backgrounds.
- Helps them explore and discover interests: While picking from different volunteering opportunities, your teen can select an area that interests them. For instance, if they are interested in teaching, they can choose to volunteer as a tutor. If they’re passionate about animals, they can help at an animal shelter. If they’re undecided, they can try their hands at something new and discover untapped interests.
- Helps them develop life skills: Volunteering can help children develop problem-solving, communication, teamwork, collaboration, and many more skills that are vital for them to succeed. Furthermore, volunteering is a robust, real-world experience that they can add to their resumes. It shows that they are civically engaged, take on challenging work, and thrive in team settings.
25+ Volunteer Opportunities For Teenagers
Here are a few volunteer opportunities that you could encourage your teen to take up.
1. Volunteer at a library
Does your child love books? If yes, volunteering at a library is the perfect option. During their time volunteering, they can help younger students with their homework, help visitors use the computer or locate books, help repair books, and help organize or reshelve books. It can also help them stay informed. Moreover, it is a peaceful activity to indulge in after a hectic week.
2. Help a local food bank
Food banks always welcome donations and new volunteers. They provide perfect volunteering opportunities for those who are interested in helping the homeless. Your teen would be involved in anything, from preparing meals to managing inventory, working behind the scenes to repackage donated food items, serving food, and carrying boxes.
While it’s not as easy as it seems, it certainly is rewarding. It helps the local community and ensures families in need are getting good, non-perishable food. If your teen doesn’t have the time, they can always take part in a one-off fundraiser.
3. Help at a soup kitchen
A soup kitchen is one of the places where the hungry can get free or affordable meals. Most soup kitchens run primarily on donations and the generosity of people. As a soup kitchen volunteer, your child may be made to clean the tables and utensils, help distribute food, cook food, and more.
4. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels
By volunteering for Meals on Wheels, your teen will deliver nutritious meals to the elderly or the disabled. It’s perfect for teens who have just received their driving license and love any reason to get behind the wheel! They can make a massive impact in a short amount of time. Alternatively, your teen can also volunteer in their kitchen and prepare meals for delivery. With a simple gesture, your teen can bring millions of smiles to people’s lives.
5. Work with Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to build or improve a place that someone could call home. Besides helping the community, your teen will learn valuable skills such as repairing, fundraising, painting, and building. You can sign them up for long-term projects or a one-time program.
6. Join the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is an organization that provides disaster relief, emergency assistance, and disaster preparedness education. Volunteering with American Red Cross is a rewarding experience that allows your teen to utilize their talents to serve the community. It is also a great way to teach them the importance of work.
7. Volunteer at a local hospital
Local hospitals are always on the lookout for a helping hand. Whether it’s chatting with residents, greeting visitors, running the gift shop, or transporting patients to the cafeteria, a little help goes a long way in bringing a smile to people around them! A few places may have an age limit and require your teen to get basic training and commit their time each week. So, ensure your teen is in it for the long haul.
8. Tutor younger children
Even if your teen isn’t interested in becoming a teacher, they can help younger students who need a little extra support at school and in life. As a volunteer, they can help elementary or middle school students with their studies. A few hours of tutoring time a week can ensure younger children around your teen improve their performance.
9. Help an elderly person
Your teen’s nana has no clue how to get around the latest technology. Being an expert at using apps, email, social media, and more, they can easily help the elderly who need help with these. Helping them out with computers or phones is great because it helps the elderly stay in touch with family and friends. Whether it’s their grandma or the neighbor down the street, encourage your teen to help them.
10. Care for pets at the animal shelter
Volunteering isn’t just about supporting our human friends. If you’re an animal lover, there’s nothing better than being surrounded by little furballs all day. Animal shelters are the best place to volunteer. A typical day volunteering at an animal shelter would involve helping with the adoption process, feeding animals, cleaning up after animals, doing paperwork, and hosting events.
11. Clean up and maintain the parks
An excellent volunteering idea for teens who love the outdoors and wish to get their dose of vitamin D is to turn up to clean a forest or park and help the environment. National parks, city parks, and metro parks can use an extra hand to maintain and keep the public space tidy. If it interests your teen, sign them up for future cleanups too.
12. Join a Key Club
Key Club is one of the oldest and largest service programs specifically for high school students. Their activities include everything from tutoring programs, food drives, and clean-up projects. If your teen’s high school doesn’t have one, they can visit their website and find a community-based group.
13. Work at a nursing home
Lending a helping hand at a local nursing home is a great way to help the elderly. As a volunteer, your teen’s task will include cleaning up after meals, helping the elderly with daily tasks, delivering meals, and engaging the residents by watching movies with them, talking to them, or reading to them.
14. Volunteer at a summer camp
A job as a ‘Camp Counselor’ or a ‘Counselor-in-Training’ is a great fit for teens. It teaches them organization skills by training under experts. Teenagers can learn communication skills and benefit from the real-time feedback that they receive from children and parents. It is also an excellent opportunity to learn outdoor support skills, such as CPR and first aid plus, and enjoy different games and activities.
15. Teach English
Teens can join a Global Volunteer program to teach English to people of other countries. The opportunity can be fun, as it involves traveling, mainly to Asia or Eastern Europe, and interacting with the locals of the host country. Alternatively, they can also take up the program online. The opportunity can help teenagers pick up essential teaching skills and benefit from a cultural exchange.
16. Donate old clothes or toys
How about some community service for the teenage soul? Several non-governmental organizations require volunteers to run their donation drives. Teens can collect old clothes and toys from the neighborhood and transport them to a central location for the NGO. The opportunity can help them understand and learn coordination and management skills.
17. Volunteer for a crisis hotline
Teenagers can volunteer for several crisis hotlines in their free time. These include suicide helplines, confidential crisis hotlines for LGBTQ+ youth, and more. Volunteers receive thorough training before picking up any key tasks or sensitive cases for the hotline. It is, therefore, a good opportunity for them to hone their communication skills and develop empathy and humility.
18. Raise funds for a cause
Fundraising is an important aspect of community work. It involves strategic thinking and the application of good outreach and selling techniques. Teenagers can partake in a fundraiser for a cause that they are genuinely passionate about. It will help them develop essential life skills and understand the importance of managing their pocket money.
19. Be a reading mentor at the library
For those who love literature, volunteering at a library can be a great idea. Teenagers can work as reading mentors or assistants for younger children or those who are visually disabled. They can help the readers pick out the right books and even lead or organize storytelling events.
20. Help younger students with homework after school
Another fun way to help your teen stay engaged is to let them help younger students in the community with their homework after school. This is a cool idea for those who are willing to explore their teaching aptitude. It can help teens become responsible role models and mentors for younger students and children.
21. Send holiday cards to military serving overseas
This is a creative way to spend time. Teenagers can make personalized holiday cards and other arts and crafts for military personnel serving overseas. They can either make these cards for another organization or create independent crafts and send them. This is a great way to show respect, care, and gratitude for the men who protect us and doubles as a creative assignment for teens.
22. Coach and staff at community sports events
Community sports programs are mainly targeted at children from underprivileged backgrounds. They entail very little or no fee and always require a helping hand. Teens can volunteer to coach, mentor, or help at such programs. They can work as umpires, referees, trainers, or helpers. The goal is to learn while serving the community.
23. Provide support to the Special Olympics
Special Olympics programs regularly require volunteer support and help. Teenagers can join such programs as event coordinators, coaches, or helpers. They can even partake in a cross-border Special Olympics event to travel and experience other cultures.
24. Participate in a beach cleanup
Teens can associate with a local environmental organization for a beach clean-up drive. This is a great way to learn about ecology and contribute to its betterment in a hands-on manner. The opportunity involves outdoor activity and is a good platform to connect with environmentally conscious folks.
25. Support a marathon as a volunteer captain
A marathon requires careful planning and execution. Teenagers can join the event and help oversee tasks such as management of specific stations, handing down kits to participants, controlling the traffic, and assisting runners with the course map. It is an excellent opportunity to learn in a pressure-driven and fast-paced environment.
26. Join Code for Cause
Is your teen interested in coding? Sign them up with Code for Cause and help them use their technical knowledge to provide awareness, guidance, and training about the endless opportunities in the field of software to students and professionals.
27. Take part in a tree plantation drive
Let your child play their part in protecting the environment by volunteering in a tree plantation drive. Trees clean up the air we breathe, reduce climate change, and reduce pollution. In essence, the Earth needs trees. You teen can join different volunteer groups or even plant trees around your home.
Audrey Hepburn once said, “As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and one for helping others.”
No matter how much generosity exists in the world, there’s always room for more! Volunteering not only teaches your children generosity but also selflessness and several other skills. It’s time to encourage your teen to take up volunteering in their spare time.