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Volunteer Activities in High School?

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Hi everyone! I'm trying to find some interesting options for volunteer work for my characters. I know a lot of schools these days require, or strongly encourage, some volunteer hours in order to graduate, and I'm at a loss for ideas beyond visiting sick kids, animal shelters, and food banks. (The first two of which are not really what I'm looking for, mainly because of the potential emotional component, which will already be filled by someone else, if that makes sense.)

The story takes place in a fairly small midwestern town, like 40,000 people, if that makes any difference. Ideally the work would allow for some time spent talking and getting to know co-workers, but I'm open to ANY ideas. Thanks so much in advance!
#1 - March 29, 2012, 09:26 AM
DEFY THE DARK - HarperTeen June 2013

My first thought, if you want co-workers but not a high emotional impact is a thrift store - like a St. Vinnies or some store that benefits a woman's shelter or something. You can often volunteer with the sorting  or selling or something. I know they do employ people, too, that need jobs, but pretty sure they rely on volunteers as well...
#2 - March 29, 2012, 09:33 AM

Sounds like you want something a bit boring, but useful--such as cleaning up litter in parks or on school grounds--where you can talk to your fellow workers, but not get all broken up about whatever-it-is you're doing.

If there's a beach nearby, picking up stuff there (like cigarette butts) can help the community, too.  I'm pretty sure we have annual beach walks and river walks here, where picking up as much litter as possible is the goal.

Everything I think up sounds like a "community service" punishment.  Cleaning graffiti up, etc.

Stocking the foodbank sounds like a good one--just a mindless sort of putting cans on shelves or something without ever seeing the good the food does for people.  Or maybe gathering something (food or clothing) for the needy or cleaning the donated items, without getting to the "fun" part of distributing.
#3 - March 29, 2012, 09:35 AM

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These are both great! I'm thinking it might be something they do for an entire semester, like once a week or so. I'm not sure how the schools that require hours work (as in how many hours are required, etc.) When I was in high school we had a component for that, but it was only for maintaining membership in the National Honor Society, and it wasn't a lot of hours. The town is on a lake though, so both of these are great. Thank you!
#4 - March 29, 2012, 09:41 AM
DEFY THE DARK - HarperTeen June 2013

My school required 10 hours of service per semester, I think (in high school). If you went on a mission trip with your youth group it would knock it out (we built houses and stuff like that) but a lot of kids offered free babysitting, or helped out in their church nursery to get the hours in... If you didn't do your hours, you failed Bible class and also just pretty much felt like a dweeb...
#5 - March 29, 2012, 09:44 AM

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We had to do community service hours when I was in high school.  One of the things I did was volunteer for the American Heart Association Heart Walk at the arboretum in our town.  A group of us helped set up the event, put up posters, marked the course, signed in participants, stayed throughout the event, and cleaned up at the end.  It was a long day, but it was fun and we got a lot of our hours completed.
#6 - March 29, 2012, 10:28 AM
AN EYEBALL IN MY GARDEN, Marshall Cavendish Children's Books

National Honor Society students must now have 25 hours of service to receive recognition at grad.

Some things kids do here:

Junior Marshall hours for prom or graduation
Working at yard sale/bake sale etc. for fundraising for clubs or area non-profits.
Teaching bible school at their churches
Making extra ceramic bowls for Empty Bowls meals.
Running booths for clubs at field days, etc.
Volunteering at a local daycare to help with art projects.
Volunteering to help upkeep websites of various non-profits (for examples: photos uploaded to Petfinder for the local shelter but could be done for other type places too)
Working on community river clean-up days

Just a few I know my students have done this very year.
#7 - March 29, 2012, 10:51 AM
NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, 2014)


If your story can stand a little political/civic atmosphere, when I took government in HS, we were required to volunteer for a political party. Actual work included working on a campaign, doing voter registration, helping at the polls on election day, or volunteering at the caucuses.

Two non-traditional volunteer activities I was involved in were a local youth-run street fair, and Teen Court (a program for nonviolent young offenders). A crisis center or resource programs for teen moms are a couple more ideas, but they'd likely have more emotional impact than you're looking for (but I'm throwing them out in case someone else is looking for ideas and stumbles on this thread!).
#8 - March 29, 2012, 02:28 PM
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 02:30 PM by ecb »

Stuff kids around here do:

Volunteering at a local zoo
Giving tours of local historical sites
Volunteering at the library
Animals in Distress (raising orphaned wildlife--maybe emotional, but also potentially lots of fun)
Visiting seniors
Visiting veterans at VA home (also potentially more fun than emotional, as it has included barbecues for them, playing baseball)

#9 - March 29, 2012, 02:46 PM

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My one big volunteering gig in high school was being a Big Sister to an elementary school-aged girl. We got together once a week, and I did it for two years. I took her a lot of places (bowling, the zoo, etc.) but we also hung out with other Big/Little girls, so there was that socialization (as well as regular picnics/parties/whatever that the organization sponsored). It was a wonderful experience!
#10 - March 29, 2012, 03:18 PM

Volunteering at a local museum--children's museum is one idea, but I volunteered at a Science Museum when I was in high school
Cleaning up hiking trails--including weeding and replanting in some cases--could work with the Parks Department employees on this
Cleaning up a community ball field or sports court
Teaching swimming at the high school pool

#11 - March 29, 2012, 03:27 PM
Stained Glass Summer, Musa Publishing
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My daughter has been a teen volunteer at the St Louis zoo for several years. She has done all kinds of stuff--staffed the play area for tiny tots, helped with birthday parties, worked as a counselor for day camp and overnights, worked craft booths and informational displays at special events, taught classes, and even worked with the stingrays, teaching people how to feed them and touch them safely. It's fun to go to the zoo with her, because she tells fascinating anecdotes about the animals. Sometimes she even learns top-secret information! She saw the brand new lion cubs before their birth was announced to the public. It may not work for your story, but it's one of the coolest community service jobs I can imagine!
#12 - March 29, 2012, 04:39 PM

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I tutored to fulfill honor society requirements in high school.  Kids from our local high school often volunteer at elementary school events--carnivals, etc.  My husband did something at a hospital for his volunteer service, cut out early each day, I'm sad to say, and then went to work with his father's construction company to earn money.  Sigh.
#13 - March 29, 2012, 06:02 PM
Scholastic CB series:

A few more ideas:

-help teach English to immigrant families
-Special Olympics
-some area schools send home backpacks of food each weekend for kids who might not have any; high schoolers collect the food and stuff the backpacks
-benefit dinner for a friend/parent/relative with cancer or another illness
-read aloud at the Senior Citizen Center

#14 - March 29, 2012, 08:15 PM

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 :wow These are all fabulous! Thank you so much! I think I'm going to back off my original,"not emotional" statement. My main concern was that my MC is already acting in a Big Sister capacity and I didn't want to throw another little girl into the mix, partiularly a sick one. Or sad animals, because thy make me so sad that even thinking about them is too much(!) but I love so many of these that I'm thinking maybe I want it to be a larger component now... I think I might have a shiny new plot idea!

Thank you again!
#15 - March 29, 2012, 09:00 PM
DEFY THE DARK - HarperTeen June 2013

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If your town has an Arts Council or a Community Center, they will sometimes use teens to file papers, etc...
#16 - March 30, 2012, 06:25 AM
THE BOY PROBLEM, Scholastic 2014
THE BOY PROJECT, Scholastic 2012

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My daughter volunteered to be the secretary for the Sunday morning religious ed. classes at our church. Additionally, she did the local soup kitchen once a month. She also volunteered at her high school to shelve books in the library.

My son does Habitat for Humanity, and he and a buddy take their acoustic guitars to the local nursing home several times a month and improv during dinner "hour" (more like dinner 2 hours), to give the seniors something to enjoy while eating.
#17 - March 30, 2012, 07:21 AM
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We get a lot of teen volunteers at the library because they need to fill their volunteer hour requirements. We don't use teen volunteers to shelve books, but they shelf read (make sure the books/DVDs are in order), help set up and run programs, clean up the children's room (sanitize toys, put them away when the room looks like a tornado hit it), dust shelves, cut out components for crafts, help restock the prizes in the summer reading store, and other things that are slipping my mind at the moment.

When I was in high school, I did a little bit of volunteer work at the library and shelved books (after I took a shelving test on the computer where I had to put virtual books in order). And I did some work at the animal shelter walking dogs. The thing about that is that a lot of shelters have a minimum age for volunteers working without a parent. I also had to get a ride there because it was too far away.

Our local children's hospital has a teen volunteer program, though I'm not sure what they do.
#18 - March 30, 2012, 12:35 PM
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JALA'S MASK, Pyr, November 4, 2014

Our high school has a Leo club. It's like a junior Lions Club and they work the concession stands at the school sporting events with the Lions Club. They also man booth at local festivals and help out with events like Field Day and talent shows at local elementary schools. They get community service credit for all of their hours. They also worked a pet vaccination event sponsored by a local veterinarian. For the festivals and elementary school events they also help with set up and taking down the booth. That would be prime time for talking to one another.

#19 - March 30, 2012, 12:40 PM

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Little League baseball/softball uses teen volunteers as umpires and to work in the concession stands.
#20 - March 30, 2012, 02:54 PM


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