No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.Aesop
I think it is important to remember the significance of social work, even if it remains unheard by the majority. There aren’t enough people in this world who truly care about the betterment of the community without any personal gain.
One very effective way for you to benefit and improve your community greatly is through community service. In the process, community service will also help you acquire skills and knowledge, and gain essential experience that you can include on your resume. Although the sole purpose of benefiting your community positively shouldn’t be an updated resume. Engaging in community service as a student helps you become an active part of your community, which will certainly serve to make a positive impact. Some of the skills you are likely to gain through social work include:
- Collaboration with others
- Time management
What Is Community Service?
Community service is any kind of work done either by a person or a group of people with the objective to benefit others. Typically, this kind of work is done on a volunteer basis, which means there is no monetary outcome. You are basically volunteering your time and effort to help. There are many different ways to help your community, focusing on a various areas — children, animals, senior citizens, people with disabilities and the environment are a few examples.
Usually, such work is organised by a local group, like a school or non-profit. However, you may start your own community service group and take on projects of your choice. When I was in school, I decided to raise money for tigers through fundraising. I brought a bunch of homemade brownies to school everyday for around ten days. Raising funds is one of the many forms of fund raising, as is donating or selling used items, like clothing for instance. Crowdfunding is a great example of how you could raise money for your community service idea. This is a method of fundraising that allows individuals to raise money by reaching out and asking for donations from their friends, family, acquaintances, and broader network.
Why Should You Participate in Community Service?
Well there a number of reasons as to why one should engage in activities that positively benefit the community. Most students are required to put in a few hours of community service organised by their school or college as a graduation requirement. In some countries, community service is court mandated — you have to complete a certain number of hours ordered by a judge.
There are other reasons to participate in community service other than being required, or forced, to do so. Indeed, volunteering does have numerous personal benefits too. Here are some of the reasons, apart from benefiting the community, why one should consider engaging in community service:
- Helps you develop a richer perspective of the world
- Develop an increased sense of social responsibility
- Often results in psychological and emotional growth
- Improves lifelong communication, interpersonal and critical thinking skills
- Helps students find their passion and interests that could potentially lead career choices they may have failed to consider otherwise
- Can help strengthen college applications and resume
- Can be a great way to meet new people and make friends
- Provides you with an opportunity to gain work experience
- Allows you to quickly step up to leadership positions within organisations
- Provides an opportunity to apply academic learning to real life events
I believe that the first of the points above is one of the fundamental reasons why one should engage in community service, and do so with an open mind. The opportunity to see, first-hand, how your work can benefit someone is pivotal. Moreover, expanding our worldview by looking beyond what most us of frequently taken for granted leaves a lasting mark on an individual. Finally, interacting with people who have vastly different backgrounds teaches you patience and empathy as you develop a global perspective.
Before we get into social work ideas, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. Answering these questions will help you figure out what you feel most passionate towards. It is important to compare tasks based on their perceived importance. Recall the quote above, no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
- Who and/or what are you passionate about?
- Is there a specific group or cause you are driven towards?
- Is there a particular activity you enjoy doing that you could do to help in some way? Like, baking or drawing.
- Do you want a long-term activity, something that you can do for short amount of time or a one-time activity?
- Why do you want to do this?
- What is the impact you would like to have?
- If your impact is quantifiable — an “amount raised” for instance — what is your goal?
- What do you wish to learn?
- What skills do you hope to acquire?
- How can you apply what you learn to your future endeavours?
Here are some community service opportunities for students that you could check out.
Things to Consider
- How much time are you willing to invest?
- What are your interests?
- Are you available for two hours every week?
- Are you not free on a regular basis but can volunteer for on weekends?
- Which activities seem most appealing to you?
- Were they mostly in one particular category, like children or the environment? If so, that’s a good starting place to choose a specific organisation
- Do some research to see what projects you can do in your community
- Check at your school, place of worship or college for more information on volunteering
- You can also contact the place where you’d like to perform your community service, such as a particular animal shelter or nursing home, and ask if they take volunteers
- Think about transportation as well and how you’ll be able to get to different locations
Ideas on How to Benefit the Community
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of different areas that you can tackle in this respect. Here are a few suggestions that should hopefully get you thinking.
- Pick up some trash. Head out and spend a few hours beautifying your surroundings. Start small in your own neighborhood
- Marketing and communications students can volunteer to help local nonprofits with their fundraising efforts and social media strategy
- Start a violence protection group in your community
- Organise a riverbed or stream cleanup — make this a regular activity and put up signs to inform people
- Participate in a charity walk or run
- Volunteer at a local nonprofit
- Organise games and activities for children in hospitals
- Volunteer at your local library
- Become CPR certified
- Ask for charitable donations instead of birthday or Christmas gifts
- Repair broken household items or appliances for neighbours
- Paint over graffiti in your neighborhood
- Take care of cats and dogs at an animal shelter
- Coordinate student drivers to give young students rides to the grocery store or doctor since they may not have cars on campus
- Become a field trip chaperone
- Host an Earth Day event
- Get involved in local conservation activities
- Volunteer at a local national or state park
- Organise a talent competition with a small entry fee and donate the collected funds to a local nonprofit
- Organise a carpool to reduce car emissions
- Become a certified lifeguard and volunteer at a local pool or beach
- Organise a drug-free campaign
- Sponsor a drug-free post-prom event
- Start or join a neighbourhood watch program
- Create and distribute a list of hotlines for people who might need help
- Teach a home-alone safety class for children
- Organise a self-defence workshop
- Create a TV or radio public service announcement against drug and alcohol use
- Campaign for more bike lanes in your town
- Volunteer at a nature camp and teach kids about the environment
- Donate baby clothes and supplies
- Help develop safety procedures for schools
- Help teach safe driving by becoming a driver’s ed instructor
- Teach a child how to play an instrument
- Become a teen counsellor
- Gather a group of friends or talk to one of the on-campus clubs to package meals for the homeless in the surrounding city
- At the end of the semester, create a textbook donation drive so students can donate used textbooks to redistribute to low-income students for free
- Create a summer reading program
- Clean up a local park
- Help walk kids home from school
- Host an after-school program
- Create materials to teach people in your community about respecting and supporting those with special needs
- Coach a youth sports team
- Start up a pen pal program for kids
- Teach classes for a skill you have
- Knit caps or scarfs for babies or children
- Help build a playground for disabled children
- Donate your used electronics to a school
- If you’re an upperclassman, begin or join a mentorship program to advise younger students on class registration, getting involved in activities or finding their way around campus
- Host a holiday meal for those without a home
- Host free resume workshops for homeless job seekers
- Sign up to be a “buddy” for a child in a long-term hospital stay. Buddies can read, play games or simply visit with children to give their parents time to shower, sleep or get food
- Volunteer at a fire station
- Start a non-corruption drive for law enforcement
- Check with your school to see if student volunteers can clean academic facilities for a day to give janitorial staff a break
- Donate stuffed animals to kids in hospitals
- Start a local fundraising drive for a cause of your choice — make it legit
- Initiate a “Conserve Every Drop” campaign
- Start a food drive for underprivileged in your area
- Bake cookies and take them to a neighbourhood shut-in
- Volunteer as a lifeguard
- Volunteer to clean up trash at a community event
- Contact your local zoo to see if you can sponsor an animal
- Collect children’s books and other reading materials for shelters, libraries and schools, then ask if they need volunteer readers
- Do demonstrations about health and exercise at schools
- Collect household items for a homeless family
- Volunteer at or donate to battered women or youth shelter
- Host seminars about drug and alcohol use
- Volunteer to be a crossing guard at a school
- A group of students can offer a free college application workshop to help high school students in the surrounding community write and edit their essays
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