When children are little their sense of contributing to the world in a positive way is unabashed. When they grow into teenagers, other factors like social awkwardness and emotional baggage can interfere with their natural instinct to volunteer to help others. Get your teen out of their comfort zone with these inspiring places to volunteer for teens that are looking to give a helping hand back into their communities and their world.
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Places to Volunteer for Teens who want to Feed the Hungry
Teenagers know a thing or two about how it feels to be hungry. They are always starving. At least that’s what the teens in my house tell me. Volunteering to help feed the hungry is a wonderful way to nourish their spirits and sense of humanity in the process.
Soup Kitchens for the Hungry
Are there local soup kitchens in your community where your teenager can lend a helping hand? Perhaps in your closest metropolitan area if your local town doesn’t have a large homeless or low-income population.
When our girls were little we helped volunteer at Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women. We helped serve food and kindness to the women there.
Perhaps there is a place near you that could use a few helping hands. Holiday time is what comes to mind for most of us when we think of volunteering to feed the hungry. But the truth is the needs of the hungry surface three times a day, every day. There are plenty of opportunities and occasions to help.
Meals on Wheels
Looking for a place to volunteer for teens that have time to donate an hour during lunchtime? Meals on Wheels is a nationwide network of community-based, non-profit programs dedicated to providing seniors in their communities with the support that enables them to remain living in their own homes, where they want to be. This support is typically a nutritious meal, a friendly visit, and a quick safety check.
Maybe your older teens can participate on the weekends or on their days off from school? If they can drive, they qualify. Volunteering in groups is also encouraged.
Local Food Banks
Volunteering at a food bank, is a wonderful way to help the efforts to fight hunger in our communities. Teens can also coordinate events designed to collect food for their local food banks.
The Greater Boston Food Bank is an example of an organization dedicated to ending hunger. Located in Eastern Massachusetts, they have over 24,000+ compassionate volunteers who help out. Organizations like these have room for teenagers willing to give their time and energy to help end hunger one day at a time.
Places to Volunteer for Teens who want to help Animals
Teenagers love animals. Their hearts are still tender and sweet and animals tug at their heartstrings. There are many places that serve animals who need help. An animal shelter is a great place to volunteer for teens that love animals and would have a zoo in their rooms if they were allowed. Or is that just my kid?
Many animal shelters require volunteers to be 18 or older, but if you can find one in your area willing to allow your teenager to help in some way, I would recommend it. What a great way to teach responsibility and caring for our animal friends than working to help make their lives comfortable and happy until they find their forever homes.
Just don’t be surprised if they ask you to bring a new pet home every once in a while.
The Humane Society and their local chapters in your area do allow teenagers to be involved in volunteering in several ways. Older teens 16+ can volunteer in all capacities. Younger teens have opportunities to volunteer in special programs designed just for them.
For instance, at the Lowell Humane Society “Teens Helping Pets members (aged 12-15) will assist staff with afternoon feeding, socialization/enrichment for animals and general housekeeping tasks around the Humane Society shelter; including but not limited to dishes, taking out the trash, providing clean bedding to animals, clerical duties and socialization of the cats and small animals.” All great ways to make a difference for animals in need.
Local Horse Stables and Farms
Not to mention opportunities to help at your local horse stables and farms.
Strongwater Farm Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Tewksbury, MA accepts teenage volunteers as young as 14 years old and has a variety of jobs volunteers can do to help both the horses and the clients in therapy there. I honestly can’t think of a cooler memory for a teenager than to volunteer alongside horses. So cool!
Look for an animal shelter in your community where your love of animals can make a difference today.
Places to Volunteer for Teens who want to help the Sick
Hospital Junior Volunteer Programs
Junior Volunteers (former Candy Stripers) assignments include the transport of patients by wheelchair, assist in discharging patients, deliver charts and reports, deliver flowers, transport specimens to the lab, and much more.
Junior Volunteers is a GREAT volunteer opportunity for a teenager interested in pursuing a career in the medical field to see first hand what day-to-day life is like working inside a hospital.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is always looking for volunteers to help. In fact, 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross is completed by volunteers, and 25% of the volunteers are aged 24 and under.
Places to Volunteer for Teens who want to help the Environment
If your teen is passionate about saving the environment from the impact of modern society, maybe a good place to volunteer would be with a local environmental club or group.
The Sierra Club is on a mission “to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment.”
This volunteer opportunity would be right up the alley of your teenager who is concerned about our impact on climate change or is worried that her local lake is not safe for swimming, or wants to start a more robust recycling program in his community.
Local Environmental Groups – Cleanup
Teens can investigate organizations in their community and beyond dedicated to the environment. This would be a wonderful way to leave their stamp on their community for years to come.
Places to Volunteer for Teens who want to help with Faith-based Organizations
Faith-based organizations like churches and synagogues are usually reaching out into the community to serve and can definitely use an extra helping hand or two.
I know that our church coordinates monthly breakfasts for the hungry in the community, community dinners, clothing closets, food pantry, volunteering at soup kitchens, serving at homes for vulnerable new mothers, and so much more.
If your family is connected to a house of worship perhaps that might be the first place to look for getting involved in Youth Group community efforts and beyond.
Playing or singing in the praise band at church is a volunteer activity as well, and a wonderful way to use their God-given talents.
Domestic mission trips
When disaster strikes, volunteers jump in to help those in need. At home, opportunities like those from natural disasters and other events call for noble folk to lend a hand. What has your teenager had heavy on their hearts that they would like to help serve? Ask them and see where the conversation goes. Maybe they can take a trip with a local church or house of worship to serve others. Maybe you can go with them and make it a family affair.
International mission trips
Our family was blessed with the opportunity to take our teenage daughters on an international mission trip to Haiti for a week a couple of years ago. It was one of the most impactful experiences of our lives. Our girls were transformed by the experience of meeting, serving, praying with, and helping others who seemed to have so much less than they do, but were rich in spirits, gratitude, and joy as grand as the sky. It was a lesson for all of us. You never know who is going to be served the most by experiences like these. I think the feeling was mutual indeed.
Your teen may not be able to go across the world to help those in need but don’t let that stop them from looking for other ways to serve the poor, the weak, and the less fortunate in your area.
Places to Volunteer for Teens who want to help with Fundraising
Teenagers have a knack for getting adults to hand over their money. They feel the best about their skills when they can put it to good use towards their favorite causes. Here are some examples:
- Volunteering to raise money for 5K walks for their favorite causes. One of ours is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Participating in Blood drives for the American Red Cross as a Volunteer
- Girl Scout Cookie Sales was a favorite volunteer project of our family for years while our girls were scouts.
- Car washes and fundraising for their favorite school athletic teams
- Selling candy to fundraise for the Parent-Teacher Organization of their school
- and the list goes on and on.
Teenagers Volunteering their Minds, Skills and Talents
What kind of skills could be used a few hours a month towards a cause that cannot afford to pay for that skill but would greatly benefit from it?
- Could they volunteer at the local library to reshelve books?
- Volunteering coding or website management for a non-profit organization?
- Audio and video editing help for the community television station?
- Writing articles for the local newspaper?
Have your teen try to contact one of these groups and offering her services as a gift.
Teens Volunteering their Energy and Strength
Volunteering to be the muscle for a group like a library on book sale day, or to help paint the local halfway house.
Habitat for Humanity
Being a Habitat for Humanity volunteer is a wonderful opportunity for teenagers with and without trade skills to help build homes for families in need. If your teenager goes to a trade school or is handy with DIY skills, they might really love an opportunity to use their skills in this valuable way. Either way, it would be a wonderful learning experience for them.
Places to Volunteer for Teens who want to help the Elderly
The elderly can often use some help with the chores in and around the house if they are still living at home. Volunteering to help seniors with these chores would be so beneficial in helping them stay in their homes and live independently longer, where they most want to be. Some of these activities include:
- lawn mowing
- chores and errands
Places to Volunteer for Teens who want to help other teens in need?
There are many opportunities to help other teenagers in need in their communities. There are so many places to volunteer for teens who love to help their friends and soon to be friends. How about volunteering with:
If your teen is socially awkward, how can they still get involved?
If your teen is uncomfortable with meeting new people which is often necessary when volunteering with new groups, see how they can help out and serve behind the scenes. If that makes them feel more comfortable.
Or have them choose one organization they are most passionate about serving and stick with it so that they can develop trusted relationships with those they serve.
Volunteering can be formal or informal, as long as its a regular part of your teen’s life.
Volunteering is so important for so many reasons. Self-improvement, appreciation for humanity, to see how good they actually have it and to stop asking for more and more consumerism. For learning to practice gratefulness for their lives. To give back. Nothing is more satisfying than giving and serving others.
Volunteer hours are often a requirement of graduation and look good on a resume/college application. So have your child volunteer early and often in their teen years. Incidentally, many of the above organizations have student chapters your teenager can join or begin at their local high school.
A servant’s heart is a life-long trait to develop. Volunteer alongside your teen to show your servant’s heart in action and model this impactful life skill. It could even be a favorite part of your family tradition ideas to pass on to your teen or something you plan for your next Mother-Daughter Date Night.
Looking for other ideas, do a search for places to volunteer near me, volunteer opportunities for teens, or volunteer opportunities for teens near me.
Volunteering only sharpens their life skills while doing something worthwhile for others.
Thank you for your service!
Chandra is the chocolate-chip loving mother of 2 teenage girls who started over again with a baby boy in her 40’s! She is the author of The Mom’s Playbook to Conquering Softball Season. She gives other moms the tools they need to prepare their daughters for real life. Her content is centered on helping girls grow up to be well-rounded, equipped, expressive, confident, intelligent, capable, kind and independent.