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 Dec 27, 2020
Community Service: A Closer Look

Community service is a pivotal part of any student’s years in high school (and beyond!). Community service is a pivotal part of any student’s years in high school (and beyond!).Whether you’ve packed meals at a local food bank, organized books at a public library, or even donated blood, you know what it means to serve your community. But how much does community service matter to colleges? What kinds of volunteer opportunities should students undertake? And most importantly, how can students continue to serve their communities safely amidst a time as uncertain as the present? In this blog, we answer all these questions — and more! Join us as we do a deep dive into community service, and what it may mean for you.

The Hours: How Much Community Service Should I Do?

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is, “How many hours of community service should I do each year?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you may hope, as different clubs in different schools have widely varying community service requirements. However, it is encouraged that you take part in community service because you want to, not because you have to. You will likely find that helping others is both rewarding and fulfilling, and in the process you may realize that community service best not be quantified!

The Importance: How Much Does Community Service Matter to Colleges?

Your commitment to pitching in to your community matters to colleges — a lot! By consistently volunteering at a community garden, tutoring struggling children at your school, or mowing your neighbors’ lawns, among other things, you show colleges that you not only care about your community, but also that you actively work toward the betterment of others’ lives. In other words, you prove that you’re willing to support and strengthen your community in more ways than one! 

The key word here is commitment. Doing community service just once or twice simply doesn’t match up to consistently doing it every week. Thus, it may benefit you to choose an activity that you personally enjoy, as doing it repeatedly will feel less like an obligation and more like a pastime.

That being said, finding safe community service opportunities — and doing them regularly — has proven to be nothing short of a hassle during the pandemic era. Read on to hear our ideas on how to circumvent these struggles while remaining out of harm’s way. 

The Options: What Are Some Ways For Me to Help My Community?

Sure, you’ve heard of volunteering at animal shelters and sorting through clothes at a nearby Goodwill, but what else can you do? If you prefer to volunteer in person, here are some great options to consider!

  • Hospital Volunteering — Many hospitals accept student volunteers who work at the front desk, make coffee deliveries, and deliver food to patients. While you won’t be working directly with patients, you will still gain exposure into what it’s like to work in a hospital setting.
  • Community Gardens — From advertising adopt-a-plot fundraisers to hosting weeding and harvesting events, most community gardens could certainly use an extra pair of hands. If you’re an outdoorsy person, a lover of plants, or even just a gardening aficionado, this may be a viable contender for you! 
  • Meals on Wheels — If you have a driver’s license, then you should consider volunteering for Meals on Wheels! You will be following a predetermined route to deliver meals (and joy!) to elderly folks in your area.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America — If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, a shoulder to cry on, and an older buddy to a younger student, then look into Big Brothers Big Sisters of America! Through this program, you will be able to support, advise, and befriend a child, and potentially change a life along the way.
  • Habitat for HumanityHabitat for Humanity aims to build homes for those who need them the most. You don’t have to be experienced with building homes to participate, and you’ll learn to collaborate with others to provide shelter for your community members.
  • School Opportunities — The elementary and middle schools in your feeder pattern are likely in need of volunteers for their carnivals, field days, open houses, you name it! Not only can you reconnect with your past teachers, but you can also help your local schools in the process. It’s a win-win! 

In a time like the present, you may be hesitant to take part in in-person community service opportunities. Lucky for you, there are in fact ways for you to benefit your community from the comfort of your home. Check out these simple yet satisfying activities!

  • Care Packages Making gift baskets for hospital workers, knitting scarves for the older folks in a senior home, or forming care packages for soldiers are all ways in which you can show others that you care, even from a distance. All you need is a few materials, and you’ll be all set to go!
  • Operation Gratitude — Through Operation Gratitude, you can write thank you letters for American Military and First Responder Heroes and voice your appreciation for their service. All you need to do is mail your letters to the organization, and in-person volunteers will take it from there!
  • Humane Society — The Humane Society offers a phone banking opportunity for students ages 16 and up. You will be tasked with calling voters throughout the nation and informing them of animal cruelty and the need for wildlife preservation, among other topics. 
  • TeensGive — Through TeensGive, you can virtually tutor underprivileged students or students attending Title 1 schools for around an hour per week. 
  • North Texas Food Bank — While the NTFB does host a wide variety of in-person opportunities, it also has a few virtual ones, such as its social media ambassadors program. Through this program, you can promote the food bank and its events through your personal social media accounts. 
  • Amnesty Decoders — Joining Amnesty Decoders means joining a network of human rights activists working to identify, expose, and resolve humanitarian crises throughout the world. With just a few clicks of a button, you will be a part of a growing movement to research and bring light to issues such as oil spills, destruction in Darfur, and even gendered abuse. All you need is Internet access!
  • Translators Without Borders — If you’re bilingual (or multilingual), then consider volunteering for Translators Without Borders by translating health- or crisis-focused texts.
  • Donations — While donating clothes, shoes, and toys to a local Goodwill is certainly encouraged, so too is making monetary donations to charities. There are far too many charitable organizations to list here, but some popular ones include Oceana, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and charity: water. Though it may not seem significant, your contribution will be helping to advance research and even save lives.

All in all, there is an endless number of ways in which you can support your community, both from your home and face-to-face. The point to remember is that you shouldn’t do community service just to check off the hours for your school clubs. Rather, you should do it because of the rewarding feeling associated with seeing people smile or with bringing people joy. The cherry on top: If you choose an activity that you are passionate about and stick with it, you might just develop a hobby that lasts long after you graduate. Now that’s a good deal!

Trisha Bhujle is a former Brilliant Prep student with the goal of answering your questions about high school, standardized tests, and everything in between. Having received a 36 on her ACT and a 1560 on her SAT, she now actively works to inform students and parents alike of how to prepare for not only these tests, but also other high school hurdles. In her spare time, she likes to experiment in her kitchen, conquer DIY projects, and most of all, write!