There are many reasons students participate in volunteering ranging from scholarships to a feeling of moral obligation. Service often brings people joy because it is exciting to know you have helped someone who needs it. Additionally, volunteer work can help students distinguish themselves from others on college applications, engage in their community, and feel better about themselves. With summer right around, giving students much more free time, they are looking for opportunities to help out in their communities and volunteer. However, many people find it difficult to find places to volunteer and can find the search fruitless and frustrating, but there are many organizations hoping to get help from anyone to further their mission.
Common places for teens to volunteer include local food banks, animal shelters, and local environmental groups. There are many of these in Central Florida.
Second Harvest Food Bank: you must be 16 to go without an adult chaperone, closed-toed shoes are required, except to be sorting, stocking shelves, sweeping, etc. If you are looking for a virtual opportunity you can start a virtual food drive. For more information, you can visit their website: https://www.feedhopenow.org/site/SPageServer/?pagename=ways_involved_volunteer
Pet Alliance Orlando has many different volunteering programs, like fostering, caring for animals in the shelter, and donation drives in exchange for service. You have to be 16 to work independently. For more information, you can visit their website: https://petallianceorlando.org/community-involvement/volunteer/
If you are looking to get involved in keeping our environment pristine you can attend river clean-ups. SERV has many different ways to help the environment from river clean-ups to invasive plant removal. These are the same people from the adopt-a-road/waterway programs. This is an opportunity that would allow you to work in nature and learn about Florida’s unique ecosystem. For more information, you can visit their website: https://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/departments-services/public-works/watershed-management/serv-program/
Habitat for Humanity offers students a chance to learn a variety of skills. They do not only build houses, although that is an option, you can also volunteer at their thrift stores. This is a great opportunity to make a concrete difference in your community and help people in need. For more information, you can visit their website: https://habitatseminoleapopka.org/volunteer/
Tutoring is another chance for students to build valuable skills and help reinforce the things they are learning in schools. There are many different organizations that allow student volunteers to help others. Learn with Us is one. Although you do have to apply, this is a great chance for students with concerns about COVID-19 or with immunocompromised family members to volunteer without fear of getting sick. For more information about Learn With Us, you can visit their website: https://learn-with-us.com/volunteer-sign-up/
School clubs often offer students volunteer hours or are clubs based around it. Seminole has a number of clubs that just attending meetings gets you volunteer hours. This may not be the greatest solution for students looking to get volunteer hours this summer, but it is a great way to start thinking about volunteering in your future and in the next school year.
Key Club is an example of a volunteer-based club. They are attached to a larger organization that is spread across the globe. Students can develop leadership skills while serving their community. For more information about Key Club’s mission, you can visit their website: https://www.keyclub.org/about/. If you are interested in joining Key Club next year, Laurel Simpson.
Interact International/Community Service has it right in its name. The sponsor is Kristen Springfield.
The Red Cross is another common volunteering opportunity for students. Although you have to be 18 to work on disaster relief, there are many other programs they offer. For more information, you can visit their website: https://www.redcross.org/local/florida/central-florida/volunteer.html
Volunteering is an essential portion of the Bright Futures Scholarship. You need from 75-100 service hours. Aside from personal benefit, it is important to be involved in your community, volunteering allows you to be involved and help out. Good luck with your service.