Katherine Clardy, Writer

Summer. To most people, its the time for no school, parties, vacations and having the time of their lives. But to other teens, its a season of dedicating their time to helping others. Yes, having fun is totally okay, but if you’re ever bored or looking for something to do the next weekend, why not volunteer? There is no “i” is team but there is a “u” in volunteer!

There are many different ways to help others this summer. One easy and fun way is to volunteer at your local day care. You can help make snacks, play with the kids, or read to them. This summer, I am volunteering at my Church’s nursery, and I’ll be teaching the kids in Sunday school. But there are many daycares around that would love help! Plus, its super fun to help the kids, you’ll have just as much fun as them!!!

Another great way to help is volunteering at your local food bank. Lots of people donate canned food to these charities, but did you know that you can also work in the kitchen to prepare meals for people who cannot afford a lot of food? If you love to cook, you’ll love this. Imagine going a whole summer with only being able to eat once a day. A lot of family’s depend on schools for breakfast and lunch, and then provide dinner at home. But without school, meals can be difficult. The local food banks help these families, and so can you by cooking meals to deliver to them!

Have you ever thought about how awful it must be to not be able to afford a house, or have to live in homeless shelters? That is why Habitat for Humanities is such a great place to volunteer at, the volunteers help build houses for people who need one! You’re helping to provide a bed to sleep in, a roof over someone’s head. Its such a great cause, and although its a lot of work, you are helping someone in an incredible way. What makes you feel good for a couple of weeks makes them feel good for years, possibly their entire life!

If you love the outdoors, volunteering at a state park is a great idea! Even if its just a local park, many park rangers offer a volunteer program. You can help monitor the wilderness with them, help teach children and adults about nature, or even work cafes and gift shops! There are so many different ways to help at these amazing places, its a great fit for anyone!

Everyone has been to the library before, so why not volunteer there? I am volunteering at my local library this summer, I’ll be running the kids’ summer reading parties and classes, and reading to kids, which is a super fun way to help, and gives the adults one less headache. If your library doesn’t offer a summer reading program, or you’d like a more calm position, you can stalk books, check out people’s books, or work at the reference desk! Working at a library this summer is a great environment to help in!

While some people groan at the idea of going to visit grandma’s house, the other half jump with joy! If you’re in that half, volunteering at a local senior citizen center is a great fit for you! You can play games with the residents, help clean their rooms, or cook in the kitchen! But a lot of the times, the workers would just like a nice kid to come and sit down with the residents, to talk to them, to listen to their stories, to tell them about their own life, to be their friend. The best reward is seeing the smiles that spread across their faces!

Has there been a local disaster near you? If so, the American Red Cross is an amazing organization to volunteer with. You can help save and change people’s lives by working with this incredible team. You can rescue people, help rebuild homes, and provide medical supplies to those in need. You’ll have such an impact on someone’s life, and I guarantee you’ll feel much happier knowing you’ve made such a difference!

Those are all my examples of ways to help others this summer. Hang out with friends, take risks, but also remember that there are so many people in need that you can help! If you see someone without a smile, give them yours. 🙂