National Student Volunteer Day is normally recognized in the United Kingdom. This year, it will be honored on February 20. I think it would be something easily adapted for use in the United States. I feel that volunteer work definitely leaves a mark on your heart. I can remember the first time I worked as a volunteer. That experience definitely changed my worldview. My mother had always provided me with a good Christmas. Both the experience and the presents. The year that I was fifteen, she signed me to be a volunteer at our regional children’s services offices for their Christmas toy collection. I was not happy about being asked to rise early on my school holiday, so I reluctantly accompanied her there. I was amazed at the amount of toys, but I would sadly learn how quickly the pile dwindled. I was assigned to double check the list of toys requested with the packaging other volunteers completed and then, hand to the families waiting outside the door. It still brings me to tears how excited and appreciative the parents/guardians were to receive these packages. One family actually brought their children in and allowed them to receive some of the presents beforehand. I will not forget the young daughter crying since it had been years since she had received a present or anything for herself. I give thanks that I was able to share in that experience since I learned not to take anything for granted. It feels humbling to volunteer and expands your view of the world. How do we get our students involved? Some ways that I’ve thought of are:
- Network. Ask friends and family about volunteer opportunities they may know. Contact your local government offices to inquire. Provide students with the information about these opportunities. Add a bit of incentive such as an extra test grade for doing so.
- Utilize online information. I know that are resources available where students can send letters to soldiers or veterans. There is also a toolbar available for web pages that sends free rice to needy families when utilized (www.freerice.com)
- Start your own project. Collect unused books to donate to smaller children. Do a food drive that will be provided to a deserving family. In the past, I have asked for donations of clothing or other material things for a family whose house burnt completely.
Have you ever involved students in any type of volunteer work? Any suggestions for other types of volunteer work?