The holiday season is the time when many choose to volunteer, but it is not the only time for you to lend a helping hand to others. People need and rely on the service efforts of others every day and, unfortunately, the need continues to exist. Volunteering provides a wonderful opportunity for families to work together and for students to build character and learn skills that will benefit them now and in the future.

“It is very important, not just for college-bound students, but those who will be interviewing for jobs, joining the military, starting their own businesses, etc., to volunteer,” said HomeLife Academy (HLA) High School Guidance Counselor Lani Carey. “Many scholarships and colleges require students to earn community service hours.”

Having a servants’ heart is key for a volunteer, but also one that can be acquired through the continued effort of volunteering. During the experience, students may learn new skills or hone ones they already have; learn how to work with others on a common goal; realize their time and sometimes physical effort translates into great value and savings for someone else and gain a sense of self-worth knowing they matter and their service really makes a difference in the lives of other people, a community…the world.

“Community service hours are looked on very favorably by colleges and scholarship boards and are many times the deciding factor in whether or not the student gets accepted with a scholarship,” said Carey. “Tennessee Scholars, Tennessee Promise and Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program are some of the programs that require students to complete community service hours for eligibility. Each one has a specific number of required hours as well as what service projects will be accepted. TN Scholars requires 80 hours; TN Promise requires eight hours and FL Bright Futures requires 75 to 100 hours, depending on the scholarship.”

Volunteer opportunities come in many forms and will be dependent upon where you live. Consider volunteering at a church; food pantry; animal shelter; the zoo; at a state park; educational center and more. Some online locations to consider that may give you more ideas include:

Christian Volunteering
Serve Alabama
Volunteer Florida

Carey advises students to have a volunteer worksheet that lists the hours they work and the projects they complete, and to have a representative from the volunteer location sign off on the worksheet.

“TN Scholars has its own volunteer worksheet for students to complete,” said Carey. “FL Bright Futures scholarships require that each volunteer activity be submitted on letterhead and signed.”

The Portfolio section in AppleCore is another area where students (or parents) may manage the extra-curricular activities students complete.

“The Portfolio is the perfect place to keep up with community service hours,” said Carey. “For college-bound students, we usually recommend community service not be listed on the transcript unless the college a student will be attending or the scholarship requires it. If not required, use the Portfolio.”

Volunteering is an activity a child may begin at an early age from completing simple chores around the house that will equip them to be prepared to assist in larger opportunities when they get older.

Carey believes community service hours are easy to obtain and something the student needs to do, which includes making the arrangements for volunteering. The parents should step back and allow their child to become more independent in their effort promoting responsibility and fostering job skills for their future.

“This teaches students to always be looking for opportunities and areas where they can volunteer and lend a helping hand to someone in need, which will last a lifetime,” said Carey.

Does your child or family volunteer? What type of service projects have you completed?

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©2018 HomeLife Academy. Article by Jennifer Smeltser. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the publisher /.