Scrolling through your Instagram, you see a photo of one of your friends volunteering with her soccer team. It looked like she had a lot of fun and really made a difference at the soup kitchen where she and her teammates helped cook and serve a meal.
The post got you thinking. Could you volunteer too? You aren’t sure how to get started. Naturally, you have a lot of questions like, “Are there volunteer opportunities near me? What are they? Will it be fun? How can I track volunteer hours?”
The good news is that there are a zillion ways that students can volunteer. The bad news is that it can feel impossible to pick one. Which one is the best?
Let’s explore some of the tools and programs that can help you identify volunteer opportunities for high school students, or students of any age:
Student Clubs and Community Programs
Both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts offer excellent programs that help build character, life skills, and leadership in girls and boys. In addition, these groups strive to make a difference in their communities through volunteering.
This is a good fit if… Have you ever been camping? Do you know how to cook, weld, or build a robot? Would you like to be a business owner? You can do all of this and more with your scout group. Making friends is part of the adventure. You’ll also get badges and medals as you achieve different skills and participate in the activities! There are programs for kindergartners through high school students. Even college students can get involved as leaders.
Be sure you consider… Scout programs are broader than volunteering and require a significant time commitment for you and your family in the morning of several meetings per month, overnight outings, regular participation, and club guidelines. For the best experience, join if you think you’ll enjoy all the activities. You need to be a paid member to get access to volunteer opportunities.
Assisteens is a teen-focused chapter of the Assistance League meant for young people in 7th through 12th grades. Local chapters of the group pick philanthropic programs to assist. Usually, activities include both fundraising and volunteering.
This is a good fit if…There’s already a local Assisteens chapter in your area and you prefer for the organization to choose the kind of volunteer work you’d like to do.
Be sure to consider… Assisteens chooses the nonprofits for the students. There is no dedicated student app to track hours. Today, most groups track student hours on spreadsheets.
Lion’s Heart: Lion’s Heart is a teen volunteer club which focuses on helping teens find volunteer opportunities and participate in group volunteering. It’s a great way to meet new friends at regular club meetings and during service projects.
This is a good fit if…. You want to join a club and volunteer with others. Club members get access to great single-day volunteer projects, like timing a swim meet or holiday events. You can track your hours and qualify for specialized Lion’s Heart and other awards.
Be sure you consider… This program is for students in 6th through 12th grade. Club meetings are mandatory to remain active in the club. There’s no way to send your transcript direct to the college. If you want to continue to build your transcript in college, you’ll need to find another way to track hours. You need to pay a membership fee to get access to volunteer opportunities.
School Volunteer Solutions
X2Vol: This school solution helps schools track student’s volunteer hours. With the X2Vol tool, you can count up your volunteer hours and use the validated transcript when you apply to jobs or colleges.
This is a good fit if… Your school uses this program already – because your school pays the cost. There is a paid option to join as an individual student. But, you won’t have the support of your local school to find volunteering opportunities or coordinate with local charitable organizations.
Be sure to consider…if you’re looking for a club, X2Vol doesn’t include that element, although, you can build your own club by inviting friends to volunteer with you. You can also submit hours from any organization for approval and to add them to your transcript. Your transcript includes your hours only, no awards or recommendations.
DoSomething: Get involved with a campaign to end gun violence, work to reverse climate change, or make activity books for sick kids in hospitals with DoSomething! Many of the campaigns can even be done in minutes, such as showing support for marginalized groups by making a card. Then, post on social media to show how you participated!
This is a good fit if…. It’s easy to get involved and you can choose campaigns related to your interests. You choose your time commitment. Do good in just a few minutes or commit to a more involved campaign. Scholarships are awarded each month for participation.
Be sure you consider… This organization is meant for young people ages 25 and under. Also, there’s no way to track your participation or service hours.
There are many other ways to get involved in volunteering including church groups, sororities and fraternities, school programs, and more! When considering your options, don’t forget to think about your future and how you can track your hours so that you’ll be able to share what you’ve done. Colleges and jobs are interested to know who you are. Your volunteer experience tells an important part of that story!
Ready to volunteer? Jump in and get started! Take that first step and find a volunteer opportunity, then decide how you want to volunteer – with your school, club, on your own, or with a group of your friends. Once you get started, you’ll be amazed at where your volunteer experience may take you.
A Student Volunteer Service
VolunteerCrowd Is available to all students whether they volunteer as part of a group, or on their own. Students can use the app to find, request, and track volunteer projects. VolunteerCrowd will track and consolidate any school or club volunteering. VolunteerCrowd specializes in fun, exciting, and interesting local volunteer opportunities and internships, that support what you are learning in school. Future veterinarians can socialize cats so that they can be re-homed; aspiring healthcare professionals can cheer up patients; and tomorrow’s software development powerhouses can use their digital smarts to teach coding to younger kids! Students applying to college can send their transcript using Parchment.
This is a good fit if… You want to build a validated volunteer transcript showing hours by cause or organizations, awards earned (including the President’s Volunteer Service Award!), and recommendations from organizations you support. When you apply to college or a job someday, this transcript will make your application stand out.
Be sure you consider… If you want to be part of a formal club. VolunteerCrowd allows you to share projects and invite friends. So you can include always include your club members! The validation service and portfolio are a premium service, but affordable. The service costs around the same as two venti pumpkin spice lattes a month and can payoff big time when you qualify for awards or scholarships.