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We’ve heard it time and time again that the last 3 years have been unprecedented.So many areas have been dramatically impacted, especially organizations and systems that rely on volunteers to continue to function. 

You may be wondering, what is the difference between volunteering and community service?

In a lot of ways, they are the same. You are dedicating your time, gifts, and/or talents for nothing in return. Volunteering often benefits the community!Hhowever, community service is typically a bigger project as opposed to a shorter spurt of volunteering. It would be the difference between volunteering to walk dogs at the animal shelter each week versus hosting a large supplies drive, collecting food, toys, blankets, etc, for the shelter.

What are the benefits of volunteering and community service? 

  • In a culture where the focus is often on the “me,” volunteering and community service turn our hearts outward to those around us. Serving others forces us to look at who or what we are serving, and at least for a short time, put them above ourselves. 
  • Responsibility can be built over continued service. Where you may only be allowed to do small tasks to start, your student may be able to build rapport and trust and earn more responsibility if you volunteer at the same place regularly. 
  • Volunteering and community service can get you out of the house! In a time where many of us have stayed home to stay safe, there are plenty of creative ways to serve outside of the home and still be able to do so safely!
  • Almost 100% of the time, you will need to collaborate, discuss, plan, or talk to other people. Building interpersonal skills is inevitable and invaluable when you are serving. 
  • For high school students especially, volunteering and community service are amazing additions to college applications, resumes, and confidence boosters!

How can your whole family get involved?

Here are some ways your whole family can participate in volunteering and community service, from elementary school up through adulthood!

  1. Animal Shelters- most counties around the country have some sort of animal shelter.
    1. Elementary: did you know some shelters have programs or allow elementary students to come in and read to the animals? Not only does your student get practice reading, but the animals get interaction and love!
    2. Middle School: shelters are often looking for extra hands to help clean. It may not be the most glamorous job, but something that needs done almost constantly to help keep the animals happy and healthy.
    3. High School+: Depending on the size of the shelter, many dogs do not get much 1:1 attention or walks. Helping to walk dogs is a great way for your student to get in some extra exercise and help staff get dogs out for more than a quick potty break.
    4. Community Service Project: This idea can be done 2 ways with the same outcome. You can collect food, litter, blankets, and toys to donate to a shelter, OR, you can create or share their amazon wishlist for the shelter, purchasing the items directly!
  2. Nursing Homes- even before covid, nursing homes have always been a place that could use extra love and support!
    1. Elementary: Residents LOVE receiving mail! Elementary students are often eager artists and perfect helpers to create cards/letters for occasions all year round!
    2. Middle School: Is your student a musician? Maybe they love playing board games? Volunteering to play the piano an hour here or there, or play board games on a Saturday morning is a great way for middle school students to serve.
    3. High School: Do you have a student who enjoys crafting? Hosting a craft day or even an evening is a wonderful way to get residents out and working their creative bones.
    4. Community Service Project: Goodie bags are always a huge hit, no matter the time of year! Include pens/pencils, sudoku/word search books, unscented lotions, fun socks, & chapstick. Hard candies are typically ok, but best practice is to avoid other food items due to allergies and dietary restrictions. Many nursing homes can provide a list of items if you call and ask!
  3. Food Bank/Shelter- food banks & shelters are almost always in need, and often have tasks that just about everyone can participate in!
    1. Generally, food banks and shelters will accept help putting together boxes of supplies, separating/organizing contributions, etc…
    2. Community Service Project: This is a great project to do with a youth group/church, co-op, or just a group of friends. Each quarter collect a specific type of item:
      1. Baby items: diapers, wipes, formula, pacifiers, baby clothes, pull-ups, baby food, baby snacks
      2. Women’s care: feminine hygiene of all kinds, deodorant, shampoo/conditioners, underwear, bras, hair ties/accessories
      3. Food- check with your local food bank/shelter to what food items they need most
      4. Men’s care: underwear, socks, undershirts, razors, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner

Almost all food banks/shelters will accept these items throughout the year. Often, specific items like baby formula and feminine hygiene products are most needed, but the most often left out/forgotten. 

Other ways to volunteer or serve your community:

  • Place flags at veteran graves on Memorial Day
  • Get a group together to clean a local park/trail/playground each quarter
  • Host a coat/jacket drive 
  • Collect classroom supplies like hand sanitizer, paper, pencils, white erase markers, etc…to donate to a local school
  • Knit or crochet hats and scarves to donate to shelters, nursing homes, or even hospitals
  • Collect suitcases, hygiene products, and gift cards (Target, Walmart, Amazon) to donate to your county CYS for foster kids

No matter how old, or young, there is always a way for you to help serve others. Include your co-ops, youth groups, small groups, athletic teams, and anyone willing to join you! 

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11

FREE to you! Log Sheets

Log Sheets will help you effectively build you student’s Transcript and give an accurate record of where your high school student has spent their time! Keep in mind the following, based on the Carnegie Unit.

  • 2 Credits – 240 hours of work
  • 1 Credit – 120 hours of work
  • 1/2 Credit – 60 hours of wok
  • 1/4 Credit – 30 hours of wok

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