Service learning is an excellent way for teens to carve out their role in society, and how their time and talents can impact the world around them. Whether the service is to complete service hours for school or scouting, or from purely wanting to do good in the community, here are a few ideas for teens (or anyone!) to explore:
- Donate children’s books to a local food pantry
Most people think of donating canned goods or money to their local food pantries, but did you know that many accept gently used children’s books as well? When families come for their food, the kids can go home with book. A simple message inside, such as “A gift for you! Love, Emma from Sweden,” adds a personal touch.
- Send mail to deployed troops
A handwritten note or care package means the world to those stationed overseas away from their families. Check out Support Our Troops and A Million Thanks for ideas of who to send to and what to send.
- Remember your furry friends
Contact your local animal shelter for ideas of how you can be involved – they often welcome volunteer help to walk animals, organize the office, or collect supplies.
- Visit a nursing home
Play cards, enjoy a snack, or simply swap stories with nursing home residents who may not have the opportunity to interact much with teens.
- Bring treats to school staff
Get a group together and bake or assemble treats for the people who work with your community’s young people each day. Drop them off in the staff workroom or lounge with a thank you note.
- Spruce up your community
What outdoor area is special in your community? Organize a clean-up event for a park, river, or public space that needs attention, or add beauty or function to that area by planting trees, flowers, or building a community garden. Need some ideas? Check this out!
- Share your talents with kids
Kids are natural sponges, and love to learn interactively. Schedule an art session, cultural workshop, or instrument lesson that showcases your talents while helping them learn and have fun! Added bonus if what you’re doing then is used to help others in some way (for example, creating a knitting project that’s given to the homeless, or creating a collection of soothing music for hospital patients).
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Did you know bringing the world into your home can help get your own son or daughter interested in giving back? Hosting an exchange student is a great way to introduce new dynamics to your home!