Be A Volunteer...
seen people in need on the news after a hurricane, earthquake, or other
disaster. Perhaps you've walked past homeless people who are living on the
streets. Or maybe you've been to an animal shelter and wished you could give
every pet a home.
what can you do to help people (or animals) who need it? The answer is —
means spending some of your free time helping others. You may volunteer to help
other people, such as the families who lost their homes after Hurricane Katrina.
But you can also volunteer to protect animals, the environment, or any other
cause that you care about.
Yourself by Helping Others
helps others, but it can also help you, too. If you're upset about something
that's happened — like a hurricane or other disaster — doing something about
it can be a great way to cope with your feelings.
also lets you see your own life in new ways. Sometimes it's easy to worry about
stuff like grades or get annoyed because you don't have the most expensive
sneakers or the newest computer game. Volunteering lets you spend some time
focusing on others for a while.
of people — and kids — find that they really enjoy volunteering. Volunteer
experiences often put you in a different environment and expose you to people
and situations that you wouldn't have come across in your regular life. For
instance, you might learn that just on the edge of your town are some kids who
really need winter clothes.
feels good to be able to meet a need like that. You'll know that, thanks to you,
some kids have warm coats, hats, mittens, and boots. So whether it's winter
clothes, food for the hungry, or homes for unwanted pets, doing volunteer work
means one very important thing: You make a difference in the world. So where do
of you may already know about volunteering and service through 4H, Boy Scouts,
or Girl Scouts. Religious organizations, like churches, synagogues, and mosques,
also organize volunteer and charity work.
is another good place to start if you're looking for volunteer ideas. Ask a
teacher, school counselor, or librarian for ideas. Your local parks department
also might have some suggestions for how kids can volunteer.
places want volunteers who are 12 or even older, depending on the job. Often
kids start volunteering by working alongside their parents. For instance, you
might be too young to prepare food at a soup kitchen, but if your parents
volunteer there you might be able to go along and pitch in. One girl who sent us
an email said she helps out at a soup kitchen by playing cards with the homeless
people who eat there.
to Do With Parents or Family Members
is a great way to have fun with your family. Talk to your parents, brothers, or
sisters and see what they might be interested in doing. Find something you all
are some ideas for things you can do as a family — or with a group that has
Clean up a park or along a river.
Plant trees or flowers in your local community.
Serve food at a homeless shelter.
Deliver meals to people who are elderly or ill at home.
Clean up a school or other public building.
Count wildlife or plants for environmental groups.
Your Own Opportunity
also can come up with their own ways to raise money or provide needed services.
Here are some ideas:
Make and sell products and donate the money to charity. Carly, 11,
and her sister Molly, 13, raised almost $10,000 for the American Cancer Society
by selling honey at farmer's markets and fairs.
Collect or earn money for charity. Ten-year-old Talia
trick-or-treated for donations to Hurricane Katrina victims. Eleven-year-old
Kyra donated the money she made pet-sitting to a local animal shelter.
Start your own charity group. Three sisters, ages 8, 11, and 14,
started Project Backpack to help kids who were evacuated after hurricanes Rita
schools now require kids to spend some time in service to others. Why? Because
grown-ups hope kids will become caring people who see the value in giving of
their time, talents, and resources (like money, toys, or clothes they might
donate). Volunteering gives kids a taste of responsibility because people are
depending on them for something important.