Wednesday, August 1

How to Rule Apres School

It's coming.

Early morning football practice has started. Band camp is just next week. Back to school ads have been popping up on the TV and newspaper since the 4th of July. Before you know it, you'll be straightening your leggings and slipping into your ballet flats and heading off to school.

You've got your classes scheduled and your extra-curriculars lined up. Maybe you've got an after-school job. You've thought of everything, right?


Let me fill you in on a little secret that I guarantee will make your entire school year better - volunteer. Offer some of your time and talents for free. Just to be nice. It may sound trite to say that giving service can make you happier, but it's true! And it makes those you serve happier, too. Win, win all around.

Don't know where to look for those opportunities to volunteer? Here are some ideas that should be available in about every community:

Hospitals: Many hospitals have volunteer programs so that the staff could concentrate on other things. You know, like making people healthy.

Animal Shelters: Since many animal shelters are non-profit, they rely on volunteers to take care of the animals, keep the place clean, and help with the paperwork.

Habitat for Humanity: Check out their website to see if there is a Habitat in your area and how you can help.

Food Banks: Food banks are always in need of donations. You could organize a drive in your community to gather the staples they could use.

The Red Cross: Did you know that the Red Cross has an entire youth division called the Junior Red Cross? I didn't. Check out what you can learn and how you can help here.

Literacy Programs: When I lived in Japan, I learned very quickly what it was like to be an illiterate. I developed strategies for getting along without being able to read kanji, but what I was able to learn and accomplish was severely limited. If you could help even one person learn to read, think of how you could enrich their life! Check for literacy programs in your community or check out Reading is Fundamental and/or ProLiteracy to get involved.

Don't have time for a regular volunteer gig? Keep your eyes open. Watch for a need you can fill, like babysitting for a overworked parent or raking the leaves for your neighbor who can't move around so well. And don't forget the power of organizing volunteer groups yourself. The students at ASIJ raised money and awareness for causes as diverse as the crisis in Darfur to the tsunami victims in Thailand to local homeless families.

The trick is to find a moment here and there to think outside yourself and get involved. You'll be glad you did.


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THE FINNISH LINE, Coming your way Oct. '07


Kelly Parra said...

I belong to a student council and we did a lot of volunteering for the community such as clean up and donating our time for festivals and set-up. They were actually fun times!

Wendy Toliver said...

I agree! Volunteering is a lot of fun, especially when you find your niche. I liked doing it when I was younger, and I still love doing it.

Great post, Gerb!

Alyson Noel said...

This is great! If we all did something to make the world a little better—then ultimately the world could be a little better!

Sara Hantz said...

I love being on committees. Probably the most rewarding was The Playing Field Association in my village in the UK. We had so much fun fundraising and the kids had an awesome set of play equipment by the time we'd finished.

And not for the first time, at the moment I find myself Secretary of two different organisations!!

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