Getting Your Teen Involved in Volunteering

By Lindsey Johnson

Giving back to the community is a valuable skill to teach kids. Volunteerism is so important that some high schools require a minimum number of hours to graduate. In addition, colleges and scholarship programs consider a student’s volunteer hours in determining whether to award them with a placement. So, let’s dive into how to get your teen involved in volunteering. 

How Do I Get My Teen Involved? 

While some teens may be service oriented, not every student will seek these opportunities without guidance. When looking for an opportunity, consider the time commitment and the regularity. For example, will your teen give a few hours weekly or volunteer full-time throughout the summer? Consider the number of hours your teen wants to accumulate during their high school career and work backwards to determine the best strategy. 

What Are the Requirements? 

Oak Hall School requires a minimum of 40 service hours as a requirement for graduation. Of those 40 hours, at least 20 must be completed in a non-profit agency. Students can earn up to 20 hours of their volunteer minimum in service to the school community. 

St. Francis Catholic Academy also has a minimum service hours requirement as part of their Theology curriculum. 

Alachua County Public Schools do not have a service hours requirement for graduation. However, they encourage volunteerism and have tracking forms available to help students monitor hours. 

For Florida Bright Futures Scholarships, the Florida Academic Scholarship (FAS) requires a minimum of 100 hours and the Florida Medallion Scholarship (FMS) requires 75 or more service hours. 

How Do We Track Hours? 

Check with your school to see if they have a specific tracking requirement. If not, keep a running spreadsheet with date, time, hours, agency and work performed. Have an agency supervisor sign off on hours regularly to ensure accuracy. 

Help! We Need Ideas! 

Consider your teen’s interests. Do they like music, dance or the arts? Are they animal lovers? Do they like to interact with children? Do they like hands-on projects? Would they prefer data entry or another individual task? Do they enjoy the outdoors? A rewarding experience will help teens understand the connection to their community and ways they can help make it a better place.

Contact the agency of interest for more details. 

Agencies that Accept Teen Volunteers 

Bread of the Mighty Food Bank – Opportunities include sorting food, stocking shelves, boxing food, building senior boxes or assisting with inventory. 

Habitat for HumanityBuilding homes for those in need. 

Haile’s Angels Pet RescueAnimal rescue with opportunities to care for the animals and facility, pet photography, assistance at adoption events and more. 

Haven HospiceTeens help in Attic Resale stores, administrative duties or with patients. 

Helping Hands ClinicProvides medical services for people experiencing homelessness. Teen opportunities include beautification projects, collecting supplies for people experiencing homelessness and more. 

HOPEHorses Helping People – Equine therapy for functional needs. 

Humane Society of North Central FloridaAnimal rescue with opportunities for animal socialization, dog walking, cleaning, special events and more. 

Keep Alachua County Beautiful – Opportunities to beautify the county through afterschool programs, community gardens, litter pickup and more. 

St. Francis HousePreparing meals for homeless citizens. 

Studio PercussionMusic and dance organization. Volunteer opportunities include helping with music students, social media, help in the store, the office and more. 

VolunTEEN at UF Health – Those interested in the medical services field can volunteer at the hospital. 

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