Have you been spending too much time in front of the TV lately? Have you memorized every detail of your favorite show? Well, maybe it’s time to turn off the TV and try something new. Why not try volunteering? It’s a good way to get involved in your community and help others, while feeling good about yourself.
- Getting started
- Raising money for a cause
- How to be a good citizen
- Places to volunteer
- Personal stories
There are several easy ways to get started—here are two of them. The first is to join an organization like the Girl or Boy Scouts that includes community service in its mission. The second is to ask your church, synagogue or temple about ongoing projects. You can also find an organization on your own, but that will take a little more work.
There are probably many organizations and places near you that need your help. Ask if you can help organize books at your school or local library, or offer to read to the younger kids. Other local organizations also need lots of help because they are not-for-profit organizations. This means they do not make any money for themselves. Since all of the money that non-profit organizations make is donated to the people they serve, they cannot hire people to help them out—therefore, they need you. Ask your parents or friends if they want to volunteer with you and then call the organization to see what specific tasks they need help with.
Most communities also have shelters for the homeless, organizations that help abandoned animals and groups that support the environment.
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Raising money for a cause
Maybe you’re particularly interested in helping a certain cause. It’s a good idea to help fundraise for an organization that supports something you believe in. You can raise money with your friends and family and have fun while doing it.
- Bake sales: Have each of your friends bake something and sell goods at school or in your neighborhood.
- Lemonade stand: Make lemonade with your friends and sell it on a hot day to thirsty customers.
- Car wash: Put signs up around your school and neighborhood to advertise—and you will be able to fundraise while having water fights with your friends.
- Ask for donations: Go around to your neighbors and explain what the money is for—even a few dollars from each person helps.
- Garage sale: You probably haven’t cleaned out your closet in a while, so why not you organize a garage sale where all of the proceeds go to charity?
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How to be a good citizen
It is important to be a good citizen and the first step to being a model citizen is to volunteer. Whether you just help out around the house or help revamp your neighborhood, every time you volunteer, you will be doing something that will be remembered.
- Paint murals over graffiti.
- Recycle all of your glass, plastic and cans.
- Clean up the trash on the sidewalks.
- Start a garden in an empty lot.
- Pick up trash in the park.
- Offer to water your neighbor’s plants or walk his or her dog while he or she is away.
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Places to volunteer
Looking for a place to volunteer? Maybe some of these places need help in your community:
- Local library
- Homeless shelter
- Animal shelter
- Food bank
- Your school
- The American Red Cross
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Running for a Reason
Authors: Julia and Katie Ransohoff, high school student writers
We started Running for a Reason with the help of our brother Sam in 2003. It is a sports club that raises money for hospice care for children. When doctors have done all that they can to try to save a sick patient’s life, or if the patient does not want to continue treatment, he or she might have hospice care. Hospice care allows the patient to die comfortably and peacefully at home. However, so many charities focus on saving lives that the importance of hospice care is often overlooked, especially for children who are dying.
That is why we started Running for a Reason. We saw that hospice care can have such a positive impact on both the patient and their family and be so helpful at the end of life and even after death. We also saw that there was not enough support or awareness of the advantages of hospice care in our community. Running for a Reason is the result of combining our love of running with our passion for community service.
Our club meets once a week to run with elite coaches who donate their time to help us improve and become stronger. We raise money raffling off items donated by companies in the community as well as bake sales. All of the money we raise goes directly to Hospice of the Valley, and our donations benefit children with hospice care and support grief counseling for children who have lost a loved one.
It is the club’s goal to raise awareness of the need for hospice care and to serve as a model for other organizations that want to combine sports and service. Please visit our website, www.runningforareason.org, for more information.
Howling Acres Wolf Sanctuary
Author: Madison Brown-Moffitt, high school student writer
A few years ago, I picked up a pamphlet about a not-for-profit organization called Howling Acres Wolf Sanctuary in Williams, Oregon and then checked out their web site. I learned a lot about wolves and decided that that I wanted to adopt a wolf. This meant I would have to raise enough money to help the sanctuary care for one wolf that had been rescued.
My friends and I sold Krispy Kreme donut cards using their fundraising program and sold coffee and food to teams running in "The Relay" to support organ donation to raise $300. We donated that money and adopted a wolf named Esew, who was abused by humans before he escaped from a yard and was captured by Animal Control in Troutdale, Oregon.
While communicating with the director of Howling Acres, I asked if I could come and volunteer at the sanctuary and she said "yes," so I held a meeting at my school and invited anyone who was interested to attend. My family and two friends decided that we would spend a week during the summer of 2005 helping at the sanctuary and my mom reserved a van, collected permission slips and emergency information on the kids going with us, and we drove off to Oregon.
We stayed at the sanctuary in a volunteer house, received an excellent orientation about the wolves, gave tours, hauled food, fed the wolves, cleaned their pens, spread wood chips on the paths covering the 13 acre sanctuary, weeded hills to prevent fire, recycled, cleaned the volunteer house, checked-in visitors and spent every available moment playing (yes, playing) with the wolves.
We had such a great time the first year that we now go every year. In 2006 we took six more friends—making it much harder on my mom, but way more fun for all of us.
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