Spend Your Winter School Break Giving Back to the Community

Maria Elena Aguilar

 If the stress from all your Quince party planning is driving you nuts, why not try doing something good for your community? Volunteering and other forms of giving back not only benefits others, but participating in such philanthropic acts is an instant mood lifter because it helps you feel good about yourself. And (as if you needed any other reasons) every volunteer activity you perform now will look très cool as an “extracurricular activity” on that college application you’ll be filling out soon. Read on for a few ideas on activities you can take part in during your winter school break.

Youth leadership organizations – Youth Leadership organizations (such as the East LA Youth Leadership Council or South Gate R.O.C.K.S) are excellent opportunities for just about anyone who is seriously dedicated to making a difference in their community. Activities vary depending on the organization you become involved with, but are generally of a social nature and are designed to teach youth important leadership skills, particularly those programs associated with youth voice or youth empowerment. To find out about your community’s youth leadership organizations, ask a school guidance counselor for assistance, or visit your local Boys and Girls Club.

Volunteer at a local hospital – If you’re under 15, you can visit a local hospital and request to volunteer as a “candy striper.”  Some of your duties might include staff reception areas and gift shops; file and retrieve documents; provide administrative backup; help visitors; visit with patients; or transport various small items like flowers, medical records, lab specimens, and drugs from unit to unit. Most hospitals require that a teen volunteer be at least 14 years of age, and commit to a specific number of hours per week. If you’re interested, call a local hospital near your area and ask to speak to the person in charge of volunteer services.

Volunteer at a local retirement home – A very unfortunate yet very common factor among many elderly retirement home patients is that they suffer from loneliness and neglect. As a retirement home volunteer, you’ll have a powerful impact and make a lasting difference in someone’s life… and let’s not forget the good karma you’ll accumulate! Some jobs for retirement home volunteers include nail polisher, bingo caller, wheelchair escorts, activity assistants, clerical helper, decoration maker and more. Look in your local directory to find a retirement home near you, and call or visit the place to learn more.

Internships at local Businesses – Business internships are a great way to get real life experience in a professional career. A cool thing to consider is that if you leave a good enough impression on your employer, you’ll have an almost guaranteed part-time/summer job since employers tend to eventually hire volunteers. Duties for this type of volunteer work are super diverse and can range anywhere from filing for a local income tax preparer’s office, to feeding and washing sea animals at a nearby aquarium! We recommend that you think about interesting career ideas for yourself, and figure out which local business will give you that relevant work/training experience…. Or you could just try to identify a place that might offer lots of exciting and possibly fun employment opportunities, and give them a call. Keep in mind that not every business is open to volunteer opportunities for teenagers, so have a long list handy of potential employers to call.

Maria Elena Aguilar

Author Maria Elena Aguilar

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