I strongly encourage my secondary students to volunteer. In fact, I put their cumulative volunteer hours on their transcripts so colleges will know that the student was involved in his/her community. Over the years LAAS students have volunteered at blood drives and teen pregnancy resource centers and free medical clinics and libraries and food closets. I think it is so very important for future leaders to understand just how much is accomplished in this country through volunteers.
More than that, in a day when so many kids are absorbed with fulfilling their own wants and desires, it is important to show them how others have needs bigger than the latest gaming system or shoes.
When we were small children and an entertainer asked for a volunteer from the audience, we just about busted a gut to be chosen. As we grow older, we become wary of volunteering. Organizations are so desperate for volunteers that we worry we will take on more than we had intended to. Too often this is exactly what happens. My recommendation to my kids has been to find one organization and stick with it. Let the organization know exactly how many hours a month you can devote to volunteering and then stick to that.
I will admit that sometimes I feel like the little red hen from the story. My mom always used to say she felt like her, too. We both get accused of not asking for help enough, but when we do finally put out the call for help, a handful of people show up… none of the accusers in that bunch, of course. Very few want to “harvest and sow,” but there’s always a big crowd to eat the bread!
When this happens, though, I remind myself that everyone I know is working longer hours than any time in history (thanks to our work being mobile enough to follow us home). I think, more than ever now, it is important to teach our kids to take the break volunteering offers us. Volunteering is usually highly appreciated by the organization. Volunteering is usually for a great cause. And volunteering groups like-minded individuals. All of these things are beneficial to our well-being.
Most gifted kids will naturally gravitate to volunteering. They have some of the most tender hearts when young, and they truly would like to solve the world’s problems. It’s important to let them volunteer while they are still this way because they tend to grow jaded the older they get. If you can act upon their giving hearts early and successfully, you just might prevent t them from ever becoming cynical.
I encourage you today to find a way for your family to volunteer together. Your children will benefit immensely from this, and it won’t be bad for you either!