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Volunteer Opportunities for Teens

By: Emily Totura
Jun 2, 2021 • 6 min read

Volunteer Opportunities for Teens – Make This Summer Count! 

If you’re a teen and have some extra time on your hands, you should volunteer! In a society where we easily get caught up with our wants and instant gratification, it can easily consume us. Volunteering, especially at a young age, teaches us to be appreciative, grateful, and empathetic, and it is a gratifying and fulfilling feeling. Research shows that teens who volunteer have higher self-esteem. Volunteer work also helps teens gain new skills important for their future job, like time management and leadership. In this article, we’ll share with you everything you need to know about volunteering as a teen.

people sitting on wooden fence near white swan during daytime

What are the benefits of volunteering?

Volunteering is extremely beneficial to the growth and character of teens. Not only will you make a difference in your community and society, but you’ll also develop a special feeling of purpose, which is crucial for a teen at a formative time in their life. In general, studies show that people who volunteer tend to have longer and healthier lives. So, what are the specific benefits?

Acquire new skills

One of the most exciting components of volunteer work is the chance to learn new skills and further develop old ones. You’ll be stepping into a new environment that will expose you to different kinds of work. This is important for teens because you’re beginning to consider what your future will be like in school and your future career. The skills learned through service work will allow you to explore different paths while also adding to your resume.

Increased happiness

Many studies have shown that people who volunteer are typically happier than those that don’t. Experts believe that volunteering helps teens build empathy and gratitude that correlates with happiness and improved quality of life.

Increased self-confidence

Along with increased happiness, volunteering also provides a sense of achievement that boosts self-confidence and self-esteem. This also creates a positive effect on the way you’ll view life goals.

Make new friends and networks

One of the most rewarding benefits of volunteer work is the people you’ll meet along the way. Each organization and group of people is different, so you’ll get the chance to meet new people who can potentially become friends. While improving your interpersonal and communication skills, the experiences will strengthen social bonds between the people you work with directly and those in your community.

teens volunteer

National Opportunities

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is known for providing disaster relief, organizing blood drives, and other service work. If you’re a teen, you can get involved. To learn more about the organization, what they do, and how you can volunteer with them, look at their youth volunteer opportunities. If you’re feeling extra passionate, you can even start a Red Cross Club at your school.

Habitat for Humanity

If you want to get directly involved with your community, consider working with Habitat for Humanity. With this organization, you’ll be helping to build your community so that each person has somewhere to call home. The Habitat Youth Program accepts volunteers from the ages of 5 to 40, and there is a variety of options, like home construction to affordable housing advocacy.

The Humane Society

Whether you prefer cats or dogs, you can join the Humane Society to help end animal cruelty if you’re an animal lover. You can find different opportunities in your state to participate in outreach, phone banking, among many others.

Key Club

Key Club is an international, student-led organization that allows members to get involved in service. It’s a great program for teens as it will help you build character and develop leadership skills. As its one of the oldest service programs for high school students, Key Club allows students to curate the kinds of projects they want to work on. You’ll likely have a Key Club at your school, but if you don’t, you can start one yourself. Key Club also partners with local organizations so that you can still be involved even outside of school.

Meals on Wheels

If you have a license, Meals on Wheels’ mission is to meet seniors’ nutritional and social needs. They provide a nutritionally balanced meal to older people and those with disabilities. They also try to educate others through advocacy to minimize malnutrition in older people. This is improvement in nutrition minimizes the chance for falls and other health risks. If you want to get involved, reach out to a local provider.

teens volunteer

Best Buddies

Best Buddies’ mission is to create a global volunteer movement that develops friendships, employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). This organization helps find jobs for disadvantaged candidates, which allows them to earn an income to independently support themselves. If you want to meet some new pals, join a school chapter or start your own.

Sierra Club

With over 3.5 million members, this club fights for the earth by exploring and protecting the earth’s wild places. You’ll be able to practice and promote the responsible use of ecosystems and resources while educating others. If you’re a teen, they have a special youth Sierra Student Coalition where you can clean outdoor spaces, participate in nature outings, and advocate for environmental campaigns. This program is great, too, because you can continue to participate even when you’re an adult.

Boys and Girls Club

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America help kids in vulnerable populations so that they can meet their full potential. Many clubs nationwide try to create a positive environment for these kids when they are not in school. If you want to volunteer, you’ll be able to work with kids starting at six with their homework, projects, and games. You will also help them increase literacy skills and work on leadership and job skills.

National Park Service

The National Park Service works with over 61 big national parks in America—chances are you might recognize a few of them, like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Along with more well-known parks, they work with over 400 national park sites across the country. Some of these parks include battlefields, monuments, and recreation areas. Each location has unique volunteer opportunities that support operations and preservation. You can choose to volunteer one time, or you can also participate in continuous programs. Keep in mind, some require special skills, training, or a background check. You will also need parental consent if you are not at least 18 years of age. Find a location near you to start volunteering.

teens volunteer

Smithsonian Transcription Center

If you would prefer volunteering from the comfort of your home, the Smithsonian Institution has virtual volunteers that transcribe historical and scientific documents. There are many handwritten documents that volunteers read and then type out on their computers. These transcriptions allow for better readability. After you finish your transcription, another volunteer will check your work before sending it to Smithsonian staff.

DoSomething

DoSomething is the largest global network for young people looking for social change. Through volunteer work, community service, and social action campaigns, millions of people can participate in different campaigns for all types of causes. You can explore their campaigns for different opportunities.

VolunteerMatch

If you want more options for volunteer work, check out VolunteerMatch. They offer a network where you can connect with local organizations based on your skills and interests. As a student, you can also use the advanced search filters to find good opportunities for teens. There are even virtual volunteer options as well.

Local Opportunities

Religious Establishments

Many religious groups offer a variety of volunteer opportunities for their community. You can work directly with the establishment to teach classes or mentor children, and you can also get involved with programs that help the external community, like food drives or stream clean-ups. If there isn’t anything that excites you, you can work with them to create different donation drives or other community outreach programs.

teens volunteer

Help your elderly neighbors

You don’t need to look that far to volunteer, and in fact, you can start right in your neighborhood. If you have elderly or disabled neighbors, offer to help them. They might need someone to walk their dog, help out with yard work, or cleaning their house. You might even have a lonely or isolated neighbor, so checking in on them and spending time with them is another great way to get involved with your community.

Volunteer at a local soup kitchen

You can contact your city hall, town center, or a nearby house of worship that will connect you with local soup kitchens or food banks. One of the best ways to help someone less fortunate than you are to give them a good, hot meal. These establishments work with small and large communities through small donations to give people nutritious food. Volunteers help to collect, package, prepare and give out food. Note that some soup kitchens and food banks have an age requirement, so you might need to bring a parent along with you. To find a soup kitchen or food pantry near you, head to FoodPantries.org.

Fundraise

With technology at your fingertips, it’s now easier than ever to get involved with fundraising. You can get involved with programs at your school like Relay For Life or UNICEF, or you can even start your own. You can ask your friends to donate food, clothes, toys, or toiletries and then work with local organizations within your community, like churches or The Salvation Army. If you’re stuck, talk to your guardian, a school counselor, or teacher for help. If you don’t have the time to continuously fundraise, you can also get involved in races or walks that support a cause with your friends and family.

Volunteer at an animal shelter

Volunteering isn’t just about helping humans—you can help furry friends too! Animal shelters heavily rely on volunteers to help take care of their animals, facilities, and events. If you volunteer with a shelter, you will be in charge of walking dogs, grooming cats, cleaning kennels, and feeding. You can do this directly through the Humane Society, as we mentioned earlier, but you can also reach out to shelters directly in your community. Your school might even have a club, or you can start one.

teens volunteer

Send holiday cards to the military serving overseas

The Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program allows people to decorate and send holiday cards to soldiers serving overseas and away from their families during the holiday season.

Volunteer at a local hospital

You don’t need to be a trained medical professional to work in hospitals. Many need volunteers to work in the cafeteria, gift shop, or running non-medical errands for patients. Keep in mind that some hospitals have an age requirement and also require a minimum number of hours for the year.

Volunteer with other teens at an assisted living facility

Similar to volunteering at a hospital, you can also volunteer at an assisted living facility. Not only will you create lasting relationships with the community members, but it can also be a lot of fun. You can create events for the residents and offer a conversation to those who feel lonely.

Organize donations for clothes and toys

One of the easiest ways to get involved in your community and help others is to donate goods you don’t need anymore. Whether it be clothes, toys, food, toiletries, or others, there is always a demand for these things. Many schools and religious institutions organize donations that you can be part of. If you’re feeling determined, you can even organize your own.

Coach youth sports

If there is a sport that you are passionate about, depending on your age, you might be able to coach youth sports. Young children look up to teens as role models, so if you have a skill in a certain sport, you can work with younger children to improve their skills and confidence. Especially after spending long days in a classroom, it’s a great way to stay active.

Libraries

Even if you read most of your books online, many libraries still seek the help of volunteers to reshelve books, help with events and programs, and check out and help people who enter. Libraries also work a lot with their local community. For example, you can support young readers, mentor and tutor students, and help with different classes. If you’re interested, reach out to your local library.

Get creative

If you’re still struggling to find volunteer work that is best for you, get creative. You can offer your own services and partner with a local organization or through posts on social media. No volunteer work is too little or too small, so do what you feel comfortable with.

teens volunteer

Acts of kindness

You don’t need to be part of an organization to help others. Simply assisting an elder as they cross the street or picking up trash in a parking lot is community service. So, in your day-to-day life, try simple acts of kindness to make your community a better place.

Final tips

Even though volunteer work is different from having a job, you should still treat this opportunity like a job. Show up on time and be respectful of the organization and people you are working with. You should also keep in mind that this is a great way to explore your passions, and this might help you figure out what you want to study in further education or what you want to do as a future career. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet new people and to develop skills—you’ll get out what you put into this experience.

These are just some of the best volunteer opportunities for teens! How will you spend your summer? DM us on all major social media platforms and let us know!

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