Volunteering is a great way for people to give back to their communities. Many people give back out of a desire to help others, but those same individuals may acknowledge that volunteering benefits volunteers most of all.
Various studies examining the benefits of volunteering on volunteers have been conducted in recent years. Seniors and retirees who volunteer often cite the sense of purpose that giving back provides. But it’s not just adults who benefit from volunteering. In fact, a report from the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension noted that volunteerism promotes positive citizenship among youth, contributes to youths’ identity development and increases their self-esteem. The authors of the report also note that volunteering helps youth develop empathy for others.
Parents who want their children to reap the rewards of volunteering – especially during what could normally be a “lazy” summer – can try various strategies to help youngsters find an opportunity to lend a hand.
- Utilize the internet. The internet is a great resource for aspiring volunteers. VolunteerMatch.org partners with more than 130,000 nonprofit organizations to help them find the volunteers they rely on to meet their missions. Volunteering opportunities listed on VolunteerMatch are broken into categories such as Animals, Arts & Culture and even Children & Youth, making this an ideal place for aspiring do-gooders to start their volunteering journey.
- Speak with school officials. A child’s school is another great place to discover volunteering organizations. Extracurricular activities like school-sponsored clubs may organize volunteering excursions throughout the school year, or even over summer break. Educators, including school principals, teachers and guidance counselors, also can help parents find the right volunteering opportunities for their children.
- Speak with local church officials. Like schools, local churches often sponsor youth-based volunteering activities. Many churches encourage all youths to join in their efforts, including those who are not members of their congregations.
- Speak with children. Parents can encourage youngsters to offer their input in regard to volunteering. Some youngsters may already have strong ideas on the types of volunteering activities that interest them. For example, avid surfers and nature enthusiasts may want to volunteer with their local parks system to help keep beaches and parks clean. The more enthusiastic children are about a volunteering opportunity, the more likely they are to stick with it for the long haul.
Volunteering benefits young people in myriad ways, especially when kids find an opportunity they can be passionate about.