There are thousands of ways college students can give back to their communities. While the need for volunteer initiatives may be obvious to many, some are new to the concept of Service. Hence, while participating in community programs yields rewards in its own right, many colleges and universities consider community service a positive addition to any admissions packet. Moreover, once enrolled, students who are involved with their communities tend to excel both academically and socially. In the article below, we’ll explore some of the more common ways that students of any age can engage with the needs of their culture.
Non-profit and Not-for-Profit organizations are similar, but not precisely identical in the ways they benefit communities. Many of these are national or international in their ranges of impact, so students may find these more approachable. They tend to carry more clout in the philanthropic communities and have solid reputations as well as being settled in how they engage and serve communities.
Most of these organizations—like Habitat for Humanity, which allows volunteers to fit their own skills to a variety of projects on their own schedules—have a particular aim or range of criteria they meet. Other excellent examples of the national organization that provides local, community-oriented support are The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the ACLU, the Sierra Club, to name only a few. Students can also volunteer with FEMA in the event of an emergency, providing aid to victims of natural disaster or assisting in community rebuilding and restoration following a catastrophe.
The Fine Grain
But what about organizations and initiatives where you live, study, and work? Especially if you’re an out-of-state student, finding a good opportunity to put your skills into service can be a bit daunting. However, there are many ways in which students can give back to their communities. While working with national organizations is fantastic, in many cases it’s the small initiatives that need your help the most.
These are either grassroots movements or underfunded city or county initiatives. They include food pantries, reading programs, companionship for the elderly, after-school programs, community gardens, or even thrift shops. Donating a few hours a month to one or more of these initiatives will not only enhance your CV, but it will also provide you with a sense of fulfillment.
Another fantastic and fun way to give back to the community is to enlist with the Girl or Boy Scouts of America. While you won’t be likely to be a troop leader or den parent, you can provide valuable assistance to these programs that encourage children to develop self-sufficiency and service as personal qualities. If you enjoy camping, crafting or have a specific skill that would enhance their understanding of the world, your contribution to a local troop is invaluable. An unintended aspect of this type of community service is that you become an example for the next generation. What you consciously teach and what the children absorb are not always one and the same.
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The central tenet of any community service donation is the understanding of time’s value. That’s why service and volunteer work are given equivalent or superior value to a monetary donation. When you donate your time, your established skill set, and the complex system that is you and is unique in all the world, you offer something that has no price. When you give of yourself in service, it is perhaps the most valuable way to give back to the community.