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Youth volunteer resources

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Saved by Katherine Mulholland
on July 24, 2018 at 2:51:11 pm

Ideas and resources for students 6th grade and up.

Compiled by Kathy Mulholland, Freehold Public Library 


NOTE: If you need to do a project for school, religion, scouts, etc., it is YOUR responsibility to make sure what you do meets their requirements!  This is just a list of POSSIBLE ideas.


  • Look around your life for volunteer opportunities.  Do you belong to a church, synagogue or other religious organization?  Is one of your parents involved in a volunteer or civic group?  Maybe you can get a volunteer position with an organization you don't normally think of as having volunteers, but you may need to "sell yourself" and come up with ways you can help them.  Some possible ideas:

               --Babysit during church, committee, or group meetings...for free.

               --Fold bulletins, programs, or stuff envelopes.

               --Identify something that needs cleaning, dusting or sprucing-up and offer to do it.

               --Sharpen all the pencils in pews or book-racks.




Run a "collection drive" for local charities; ask your school, church or other centrally-located organization that you know about to let you place collection boxes so people can donate.




Develop and education and awareness program for a cause you care about.


  • Conservation issues (being "green"; recycling; not wasting energy; how to help endangered animals, anti-littering, etc.)
  • The Arts (share a passion for painting, drawing, dancing, music, etc., and help others get involved, by hosting free "to do" classes or take your program to a nursing home or other group)
  • Health awareness (avoiding skin cancer, alcohol/drug abuse, eating disorders, getting physically fit, etc.)
  • Sports (put together a brochure or display showing younger kids how to play your favorite sport)
  • Writing/literacy (host a blog, publish a zine, run a book club, or host a poetry slam).
  • Ethics education (make a PowerPoint presentation teaching your peers about plagiarism, or how to help a friend who is going through a hard time, or other important issue).
  • Favorite subjects (take a favorite subject in school and notch-it-up with a presentation you share with a class, community group, at church, etc.)
  • Technology Aide (offer to help seniors learn a little bit about computers, or offer to scan photos onto a flash drive).
  • Make an information resource (like a wiki...such as this one!) that helps people, and promote it among your friends or in the community.  
  • Collect healthy recipes that kids like,and share on the internet, or make home-made cookbooks. 
  • Conduct a "care package for soldiers" campaign (see http://www.military.com/spouse/military-life/military-resources/how-to-support-our-troops.html for information), or a letter-writing event (http://www.operationgratitude.com/?gclid=CL2ghfWYl9ECFYlWDQodwPwA3g). 
  • Teen suicide prevention (see http://www.sptsusa.org/teens/). 



Organize your friends into an action team to...

  • Shovel snow or do some yard clean-up for senior citizens FOR FREE
  • Do a litter-pick-up event at a park in town, school, or along sidewalks near your home
  • Write letters to local, state and/or federal officials advocating for causes you care about.  
  • Make iron-on transfers in support of a special cause, then iron-on to t-shirts to "advertise" for your cause. 


How to pay for your project?

If you're doing a project that will have expenses (such as building something), you'll need a way to pay for the materials, equipment, maybe shipping or delivery costs, photocopying/printing, etc. 

  • Write-up a brief (one page) description or small poster about your project.  This will help you explain it to others.
  • Ask local businesses and family friends for SMALL grants (many small grants will add up, and the time you spend trying to get them may count toward your "project," depending on your program's requirements).
  • Apply for grants from organizations such as http://captainplanetfoundation.org/ or local civic groups/clubs.
  • Work with a group that already may have a budget or some money for projects (perhaps a Scout troop, a church, etc.).
  • Organize the typical fund-raisers such as a car wash, concert, bake-sale, walk-a-thon, etc. 
  • Note that most fundraisers are projects in-and-of themselves.  
  • Consider that "fund-raising" for a good cause could be your project (important: check with the organization that you're doing volunteer/project work for to make sure this is acceptable). 



Things to watch out for/avoid.

  • Book collections: used books are rarely wanted.  An exception is the AAUW book sale, but if you ask people to donate books you'll get all kinds of books, mostly old and many damaged or moldy.  Avoid doing book collections! 
  • Stuffed-Animal Toy Collections: occasionally the Humane Society or law-enforcement folks will take stuffed animals, but there are really just too many out-there and if you ask for donations, you'll get all kinds of dusty, junky and who-knows-how old/big stuffed critters.  Not a good idea. 
  • Food donations: DO collect food donations for Open Door, but make sure you only accept food that isn't EXPIRED (past the use-by date on package).  Also, only take canned or dry-boxed/pouch foods.  If you get donations that look like they might not be good (say, the box is very dusty or had gotten wet, or the can's rusted), just throw it away before you take the items to the food pantry. 
  • Animal charities: Because of safety and insurance rules, most reputable animal-service organizations (animal shelters) won't take volunteers under age 18 to help directly with the animals.  You may be able to do other things for them.  Be suspicious of any animal shelter that will put a youth in middle school to work; they probably are not "official" and may not be safe for you to work with.


Generally speaking: always do your homework and ask lots of questions before volunteering for an organization you don't already know.  Many will not accept middle-school aged youths, and might not accept high school aged volunteers.  The fact is, it's a lot of work to supervise and direct kids in volunteer service, and some organizations may not have the staff to do that.  Don't take it personally!  Some really need workers who can do things that you just have to be older to do (like drive a car).  You're not doing anybody any favors if you try to guilt an agency into letting you volunteer just because you "need the hours."


Also, be sure to be reliable and punctual!  Volunteer work can be a good source of recommendations for things like scholarships, awards, honor society and employment.  But if you're late or stink at the job, don't bother asking for a reference.  Sometimes volunteer work can lead to jobs or even careers. 


If you need any help researching (finding information) about things you're interested in doing, you can contact Mrs. Mulholland at the Freehold Public Library: 732-462-5135 or kmulholland@freeholdpubliclibrary.org.


Good luck!


So nigh is grandeur to our dust

So near to God is man;

When duty whispers low, “thou must.”

The youth replies, “I can.”

Voluntaries, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

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