Although it’s easy to think of summer as the time that you can spend completely on yourself, it’s important to think of others as well. You’ll have significantly more free time (especially if you don’t have a job), so why not do something that you can feel good about?
While spending time working without getting paid may make you groan, it’s something you should seriously consider. You don’t have to spend a whole lot of time, and you can make a big difference in the lives of people who aren’t as fortunate as you are. By the end of an afternoon, you’ll feel good about what you did, and you’ll have the opportunity to meet and learn about other people (and maybe learn something about yourself, as well).
Once you’ve decided to volunteer, you can start the process by thinking about what you feel strongly enough about to dedicate some of your time to.
- Are you passionate about helping the homeless?
- Feeding the hungry?
- Saving the environment?
- Working with children?
Almost any interest can be indulged through some sort of volunteering, so find something that really means a lot to you—you’ll be more likely to want to volunteer, and you can make a difference on an issue that you feel strongly about.
Once you’ve determined the issue that you’d like to address with your volunteering, it’s time to figure out where you’re going to volunteer. Most local churches, school, and many other organizations have volunteering programs, so you can get in touch with a counselor or program worker and start getting ideas. You can also check out websites like 1-800-Volunteer to find a list of local volunteering sites. You can also get in touch with programs like Habitat for Humanity, Feed My Starving Children, and The Nature Conservancy to get information on working with them. Call up the coordinator of your local site and set a time to get out and help.
It can be a lot of fun to get a group of friends to volunteer together (and it makes it an easier to show up for the first couple times if you’re not alone). Talk to a few of your friends that are interested in the same causes, and suggest volunteering once a week or bi-monthly. The more people you can organize, the more of a difference you can make.
After getting a group together and choosing a site, all that’s left to do is get there on your chosen day. You might feel a little weird if you’ve never done it before, but volunteers and volunteer organizations are always very welcoming and helpful—they understand that you’re in an unfamiliar environment, and will help you with whatever you need. Stick with it, and pretty soon you’ll be the one helping the new people!
It can seem like a pretty big sacrifice (one you may not feel especially inclined to make), but spending your time volunteering and helping others is one of the best things that you can do with your free time. Try it out this summer—you won’t regret it!