Whether or not it is a part of your child's school requirements, you should try to get your teen excited about volunteering. Helping those who are less fortunate can teach a teen empathy as well as to be grateful for what he has. Encourage your teen to choose volunteer service projects based on his passions or interests.
Feeding the Hungry
Teens typically have a lot of opportunities to support the hungry in their communities. Most food banks and shelters are always accepting volunteers to help stock shelves and serve food. Some communities also use volunteers to deliver food to the sick or shut-ins who can't afford groceries. Or, your teen could take a more proactive approach and start a food drive, collecting canned goods at school, from your extended family and the from the entire community.
Help Disadvantaged Kids
Ask your teenager if she could imagine having to go to school in the winter with no coat, or not having the school supplies she needs. She can do her part to help kids in just these situations by collecting winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves through a winter clothing drive. She can also plan a book bag-stuffing party where she and her friends fill book bags with donated school supplies, such as notebooks, folders and pencils.
Building Homes and More
Your teen can help build homes for families who desperately need the help, by volunteering with a home-building organization, such as Habitat for Humanity. Seeing a family enter a home that your teen helped to build can be a truly rewarding experience. Some schools also offer volunteer service trips during spring break to countries, such as Mexico or Guatemala, where teens help to build modest homes for families. Your teen could also help to fix up a local community center that could use a fresh coat of paint, or get a local company to donate new sports equipment for the center.
If your teen is concerned about the environment, she can work on an environmental type of service project. For example, your teen and her friends could have a fundraiser to raise funds to clean up a local lake. Or, they might purchase and decorate canvas shopping bags -- and then hand them out for free to encourage others to stop using plastic bags. Another idea is to organize a trash pick-up day, where teen volunteers pick up trash at a local park.
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images