Encouraging Teens to Volunteer

Have your teenagers expressed a desire for volunteering regularly somewhere? Or have you nudged them in that direction?

📚 STORYTIME: I remember when my oldest was a freshman in high school and hearing about a club he could join and that if he earned 80 volunteer hours over the course of 4 years of high school he would get a special cord on graduation day, I wanted that for him! That recognition came from a little bit of an ulterior motive, knowing it would look good on college applications, but also knowing deep within my heart that it would benefit him socially and emotionally to have regular opportunities to volunteer. It felt like a WIN/WIN/WIN!!!

Little did I know at the time that he wouldn’t even walk the graduation ceremony, so that cord meant nothing (though he did earn it!) It could have been beneficial in his college applications, but he wrote about different things. He didn’t end up pursuing very many volunteer opportunities throughout the school year, because he was just so overbooked with other activities. It plagued me! I felt he “should“ be doing something, but it just didn’t happen very often unless it was organized by our church congregation.

Summertime really was the best time for our family to volunteer, and I signed us up to work at our local serving center which also doubled as a clothing donation. Myself and my 4 kids worked side-by-side one afternoon sorting shoe donations, and it felt amazing to be able to help our community in that way, but we only went that one time. I had intentions to go more, but life and vacation and teenage jobs all got in the way. We can’t do it all and that’s OK (I keep reminding myself).

👉I would love to hear your volunteer experiences either with your teenagers or them going on their own. That they have the drive to do it? What have been the volunteer opportunities that they have enjoyed?

Here’s what members of the community had to say:

  • “One of the reasons we homeschool is so that we have time to do stuff like this! We volunteer once a week at our local food bank. The “regulars” there love having the teens help!”
  • “Our high school requires 20 hours of volunteering per year. However with Covid some places don’t want high schoolers and are keeping volunteers out. Before this year, each month during the school year different grades would do community service projects… elementary grades visit and adopt elderly individuals from a nursing home, middle schoolers help neighborhoods with yard work and high schoolers work at the food bank or homeless shelter. Our family does drop food off at the food bank on the regular. One daughter volunteers with an elementary Sunday school class. Our church also houses the homeless one week each winter (there is transportation from a bus stop to a different church each week) and we serve as a family by putting out blankets, cleaning bathrooms, and serving food. It’s gotten harder to serve since places have more regulations. I’d like the kids to take the initiative but they at least are willing to cooperate with family projects when asked.”
  • “Our church has fostered opportunities for service and I’ve been so grateful for that. My kids have transitioned from participating in activities or camps to serving as volunteers for them since 4th grade. They also have regular service activities through their youth group (even during Covid). My daughter also joined a local service organization when she went to high school. To me, serving others is one of the hallmarks of our faith, and it’s very important that my kids always use a good portion of their time serving others. It was Christ’s example to us, and if we follow Him, we’re expected to follow that example.
    “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28”
  • “My 17 year old daughter and I have been volunteering for 5 years with an organization that cleans trash from the beaches and waterways near our home. (late spring to late autumn) These volunteer hours helped her gain confidence, meet people, choose a science fair project, and earn a Girl Scout silver award. We love our crew and spending time together. It’s fun being on the “garbage boat”, and it feels great to help keep the environment clean and safe for marine life.”
  • “We have a community food pantry that bags food weekly. It gives people about an hour of service. It was a lot of working during COVID and my daughter and I would go together but now she just wants to go. Food for Hope in Thornton. You should look it up! Also, she loves animals and we found a local farm that she could volunteer at during summer. She loved it and got 75 hours in July alone! She needs some hours for school but no more than 20 and then she just does it because it’s something fun for her to do. Now, my boys on the other hand, it’s a little harder but they aren’t in high school yet so they are even a little bit motivated!!!”
  • “When I was in high school, instead of letting me get a dog, my parents suggested I volunteer at the animal shelter and they would drive me. So I did on Fridays after school for 2 years. Got to play with the dogs sometimes at least (mostly I cleaned cages, gave food & water, gave baths, did laundry, some office work), and that is where I met my first pug!🥰💜🐾 They had all kinds of animals—pot-bellied pigs, chickens, birds, rabbits, various rodents, confiscated exotic pets (a lot of pythons). I also learned a lot about life & real world stuff. Animals being euthanized for various reasons, and the toll it took on the animal officers to have to do that. Pet overpopulation, and the importance of spaying/neutering your pets. Serving the public. Other volunteers were doing court-ordered community service hours, so interacting with them was a good experience for me, after living a pretty sheltered life. Overall a great experience and I learned a lot👍”
  • My daughter’s district requires fourth hours to graduate. My daughter did that all freshman year. COVID slowed her ability to volunteer, but that only made her switch her perspective. So on top of her normal volunteer hours she has initiated a multi club endeavor to have reading days at the library on Friday afternoons. They also plan to make regular donations of books, supplies, financial contributions.”
  • Love this ❤️ I think it’s a blessing to have them a part of the youth programs at church – they have lots of opportunity to volunteer and serve. Isaac has served in special needs mutual, and volunteered to be a part of the city youth council. I don’t know if it’s “drive” but I’m grateful for his example ❤️”
  • “My girls love to volunteer! I was raised that volunteering is as important as going to school and work. My husband and I agreed we would keep that going with our children. From an early age they were eager helpers and could wait to turn 14 to be old enough to volunteer at the local long term care unit of our hospital. We volunteer every few months as a family at our local homeless shelter and everytime I am overwhelmed with emotion watching my girls mingling amongst the guests helping them with their meal.”
  • “My daughter and I do National Charity League. It’s a nationwide org where mothers and daughters grades 7-12 have opportunities to volunteer together throughout the year. You have to meet certain hour requirements and number of meetings. Each chapter has a website where all the volunteer ops are listed and you just grab on when you have time. Makes it so easy to get involved in the community.”

Build loving connection with your teens

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Your Intentional Connection Playbook
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Build loving connection with your teens

10 unique ways for parents and teens to build a closer relationship

Your Intentional Connection Playbook
For parents who value connection over control
Thank you for joining my email list! I can’t wait to spoil you and promise to keep your email address private