students volunteering

It’s wonderful to think about the holiday season. You probably think of food, time spent with family and loved ones, and, well, more food. But at its core, the holiday season is a time of giving, which makes this time of year a particularly good time to dedicate your efforts to others through volunteer work.

Why volunteer?

There are tons of reasons to volunteer!

  1. Giving to others and contributing to the well-being of your community gives you the warm and fuzzies. In fact, there is science indicating that volunteering impacts your brain chemistry. Performing these acts of kindness releases “happy chemicals” like dopamine and oxytocin.
  2. Volunteering reduces stress and improves overall well-being. Did you know that people who volunteer tend to live longer?
  3. Volunteer activities help improve college applications. Volunteerism helps students stand out in the college admissions process. They demonstrate civic responsibility, leadership, and community involvement.
  4. Volunteering helps build a stronger resume. Volunteer work may be unpaid, but it’s still work; hence, it has a place on your resume.

Volunteering and college admissions

There are several factors in college admissions decisions that are easily quantifiable – your grades, how tough your classes are, your test scores, and so on. Intellectual accomplishments are not the only things colleges look for. They want students who will develop into leaders, and these potential leaders possess strong social and emotional skills. These students are the ones who will work to enrich their communities. This is where volunteering comes into play.

Finding volunteer opportunities

High school students can get started with volunteering easily. There are tons of resources at their disposal. Many students find local volunteer opportunities through their schools or through service clubs like National Honors Society. Others search for local volunteer opportunities online or through their network of friends and family.

To really leverage your volunteer work for college admissions, consider joining an organization like Lion’s Heart. This organization links student volunteers with hand-picked local volunteer opportunities. Students receive a variety of volunteer opportunities to choose from based on their passions and interests. Volunteer hours and duties are submitted to colleges through a portfolio that is received. Students connect with others nearby who share similar interests, and scholarship and awards opportunities increase based on volunteer experiences. You can learn more on the Lion’s Heart website.

There are other less formal options that can still make a big impact. You can always launch your own food drive. 41.6 million people in the U.S. face food insecurity, including nearly 13 million children. Most of these families do not live in poverty, and food insecurity exists in every single county in the country. That means some of the people most in need of food right now may well be your neighbors. This holiday season, why not give to a family in need of a meal? Launch your own food drive to donate to a local food bank or gather donations for a food drive that’s already been organized. Your Thanksgiving meal will taste better knowing that you’ve done your part to help someone else enjoy the holiday.