Community service was a huge part of my high school years. Every week in my sophomore year of high school, I would visit senior citizens in my hometown. In my junior year, I volunteered at my public library. And in my senior year, I worked with a local group to teach English as a second language.
But that stopped when went to college.
It’s not that I didn’t want to serve my community when I went to school. It’s that I wasn’t connected to my new community. When I left my hometown, I left all the organizations and ties that where I used to volunteer. Coming to college, I didn’t know how to get involved again.
Many college students deal with this problem when they get to university. As they adjust to a new environment and a new lifestyle, social activism and volunteer work can take a backseat. But service is so important. It connects us to our community; it builds relationships; it helps our neighborhoods grow and develop. That’s why I’m including 25 ways to “give back” to your community when you’re still in college below.
1. Volunteer in a soup kitchen in your local city
You can find a list of food pantries and soup kitchens by state here.
2. Collect canned goods and foods to donate to a food drive
Feeding America has a list of their guidelines for food donations online!
3. Host an on-campus bake sale to raise money for a charity you care about
You could do this for any charity, but She’s the First is a girls’ education charity that I am really passionate about, and they even have a program for on-campus bake sales.
4. Volunteer at sustainable food centers to combat food insecurity
Hundreds of people throughout the country struggle with food insecurity, or not having access to healthy foods; organizations like the Sustainable Food Center try to combat this through community farming. See if there’s a similar organization in your area!
5. Tutor children
Many children need extra help in school, but cannot afford tutoring. Most major cities have programs where college students and adults can volunteer to help these kids on a weekly basis. See if your city or college has one!
6. Volunteer at your local hospital
Hospitals don’t just run on the work of nurses and doctors; they also need volunteers to survive! Almost every hospital has a volunteer program for people who can commit at least an hour a week. Visit the homepage of your local hospital to see if it does, too! Especially if you go to college in or near a city, public transportation to your local hospital is likely to be available.
7. Be a “Yellow Shirt” at Camp Sunshine on break
Camp Sunshine is a summer camp for children with life-threatening illness. All families attend completely for free, so Camp Sunshine runs on the labor of volunteers (who are called Yellow Shirts because of, well, our yellow tee shirts). Lots of college students volunteer during their winter, spring, or summer breaks. You can learn how to volunteer with Camp Sunshine here.
8. Get involved in causes with your religious community
Most religious communities have a special focus on community service or giving back; my church focuses on combating starvation and homelessness through volunteer work and donations. See if your religious organization or group on campus already has a cause, and if not, see if you can choose one together.
9. Volunteer at your local library
Many libraries have volunteer programs where you can help with everything from managing daily tasks for the library, to organizing events, to reading to children. Visit your local library’s website to see if they have a volunteer program.
10. Have a clothing drive in your dorm
Get a group of people together to host a clothing drive in your dorm, where students can swap or trade their clothing for sustainability.
11. Get involved in an on-campus activist group
Find a group on campus that reflects a community or cause that you care about and see if you can get involved. Often these groups have regular volunteer or action opportunities.
12. Volunteer for a political group on- or off-campus
Especially considering this is an election year, now is a great time to get involved in politics. See if you can get involved in a political club on campus or volunteer for a campaign. Not sure who you side for? Check out ISideWith.
13. Volunteer locally to care for Veterans
DAV has a page of different ways to support veterans, including driving a van to get veterans to their appointments, or volunteering at a VA hospital.
14. Organize a Habitat build with your sorority or club
Habitat for Humanity often has groups from different college campuses come together to help build houses for those who do not have shelter. You can learn more about Habitat here.
15. Do something you love, for charity
Often, you can raise money for an organization you care about doing something you already love. For example, if you’re a runner, participate in an MS Run to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. If you’re a musician, put together a small charity event where you and your friends play music for donations. Find something that you love and are skilled in, and think about a creative way to use those talents for good.
That’s all I’ve got, but I’d love to hear from you.
I love volunteer work and giving back to the community. These are all such amazing things to do !
Mikayla | A Seersucker State of Mind.
These are some awesome ways to volunteer! I think it becomes harder for people to volunteer when they enter college because there are so many changes in life. Thanks for sharing these, I’m totally feeling some volunteer work in my near future.
I definitely agree about the changes. Life becomes to much more hectic, and it’s hard to give back. I’m glad you may be doing volunteer work soon! Good for you!
Thanks for sharing all of these great ways to volunteer!
I actually did a lot of volunteer work in college through my sorority so it was awesome to have that connection in college as well.
I haven’t volunteered much since graduating and I do miss it and hope to get back to it soon.
That’s so awesome, that your sorority was dedicated to community service. I think sororities can be such a positive force not just in our own lives, but also in the community.
This is awesome! Too often we are more caught up and concerned about ourselves that we forget to give back to others. Thanks for sharing this!
Amy | Pastel N Pink
This is an awesome guide to volunteering! I’ve volunteered a couple times since being in college, and it definitely makes you feel good 🙂
-Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com
These are all such great ideas! When I was in college, my sorority was pretty active in volunteering. I haven’t really done much since graduation but I should definitely get back into it!
Kayla || Keynotes from Kay
I enjoy doing philanthropy work with my sorority, and this semester I’m trying to get involved in a different off campus organization as well. Great ideas in this post!
What a great roundup! I volunteered in college at a children’s pre-school and really enjoyed it!
I love all of your volunteering ideas! I did a lot of volunteering in college.
These are all such great ways to volunteer. I really want to get back into volunteering!
The Fashionista’s Diary
I love this! I volunteered a ton through my sorority, we actually had to do 20 hours a week! I still volunteer now that I’m an alumna I still volunteer with them! I’m going to pin this so I can use it when I move!
Your post is a timely reminder to spend less time focusing on myself and more time focusing on those less-fortunate, so thank you for sharing!
Volunteering is something that I love doing. Every Monday night I go and bake with seniors and it is the highlight of my week. I wish more people did it. This is such a fantastic campaign.
I absolutely love all of these! It is hard to stay active in community service once you enter college but these are all great suggestions on how to become more involved!
These are awesome suggestions. I did a lot of community service with my sorority in college and I learned so much! Now, my husband and I have our own foundation, so we do most of our giving back through that.
All the Best,
Allison | http://www.LiveLifeWellBlog.com
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