“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Poolside lounging, backyard barbecues, beach vacations – three summertime staples that spark joy in almost all of our hearts. But the summer season wasn’t made just for rest and relaxation; the midyear sunshine is also perfect for philanthropy. Though many working adults don’t have the luxury of enjoying the same extended break their school-aged children have, luckily, philanthropy is an equal opportunity activity. When it comes to volunteering, the summer offers endless possibility and plenty of free time to pursue. Here are three teen-friendly volunteer projects for the summer.
For those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, why not dive into a building project? Charities like Habitat for Humanity and The Fuller Center for Housing build homes for people in need, while organizations like Bikes for Goodness Sake build bikes for underprivileged children. If your teenager’s heart lies in education, plenty of nonprofits like BuildOn Global dedicate their volunteer hours to constructing schools for underserved communities.
If building houses and schools requires too much physical exertion, think outside-of-the-box and create your own nonprofit or charity. The business can be as small and short-term as a weekend lemonade stand, or as complex and long-term as an online boutique of handmade crafts. Once the profits start rolling in, take the proceeds and donate them to a worthy cause.
Many of the spaces we occupy and enjoy require tedious, behind-the-scenes work to keep clean. However, the bright sunshine of summer provides the perfect motivation to lend a helping hand. Commit to sprucing up the neighborhood. Gather a group of friends and create a gameplan to clean up one (or a few) of the following spaces:
- The Beach
- A Heavily Littered Street
- An Elder’s House or Yard
- A Local Park
- Your Neighborhood Common Areas
Get social! For all the extroverts and social butterflies, your time and attention can prove to be a priceless gift. Help your fellow man by participating in a bit of good ol’ fashioned, face-to-face interaction. Consider visiting a rest home, hospital or hospice center and sharing your company. Enroll as a Big Brother or Sister (if you are over the age of eighteen) or offer your literary expertise to a summer reading program at your nearest library, bookstore or daycare.
“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” — Tom Brokaw
Although the free time that accompanies summer break is traditionally consumed by self-serving pursuits, what better time to do more than is required? There are millions of causes, both locally and globally, waiting for the attention and action of a future philanthropist. You are never too young to make a difference. The leaders of tomorrow start by creating change today. So, this summer, encourage the teens in your life to get out of the house, take advantage of the sunshine and make a real-world impact through volunteerism.