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Best Places for High Schoolers to Do Community Service

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Updated May 21, 2020

Due to COVID-19, students may be stressed about how to get involved in extracurriculars after many activities have been canceled. Self-driven projects are a valuable activity to get involved in at this time and help show your skills and passions in an authentic way. Read more about self-driven projects here.


If you feel safe and comfortable enough to participate, there are also ways to be a good neighbor and volunteer during this unique time. Some ideas include writing letters to nursing homes, donating to local food banks, or making masks.


Even though community service isn’t required for your college apps, it’s still an important part of your personal growth—and can help you get into college by demonstrating that you care about others and take initiative to do something to better the world. Find something that complements your passions, interests, and career aspirations. Think about problems you want to solve and places that are important to you. Want to learn more about where you should volunteer? Read on for our ideas.


Want to know your chances at the schools you’re applying for? Calculate your admissions chances right now and understand your odds before applying.


Where Can You Find Community Service Opportunities?


The are many student clubs, such as Amnesty International and Key Club, that are devoted to community service. If nothing that appeals to you exists at your school, start your own club. You’ll find plenty of tips in 30 High School Clubs You Can Start Now.



Community Center

Local organizations, such as after-school centers, JCCs, and community centers, tend to have many opportunities for volunteers. Visit a place where you might like to volunteer, such as a nursing home, daycare, or animal shelter to ask if they take youth volunteers.




There are many online sites to help you find volunteer opportunities. DoSomething.org, for example, helps young people find opportunities according to their location and cause of interest. You can also find information on starting your own DIY project.


For more places to identify community service projects, read 32 Community Service Ideas for Teen Volunteers.

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Your GPA and SAT don’t tell the full admissions story


Our chancing engine factors in extracurricular activities, demographics, and other holistic details. We’ll let you know what your chances are at your dream schools — and how to improve your chances!

Calculate your acceptance chances

The Best Places for High Schoolers to Volunteer

With so many places to volunteer, it can be hard to narrow down the list. You probably have your own interests and passions, so go from there, and find an opportunity that aligns with them. Be creative! Here are some of our favorites:



1. Hospitals or Nursing Homes

Hospitals and nursing homes are ideal community service opportunities for aspiring doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. You probably can’t work directly with patients, but some hospitals might let you be a candy striper or another type of volunteer. You might deliver meals, do data entry, change sheets, or help out around the office.



2. Schools

Aspiring teachers and others interested in education will enjoy volunteering at their own school or others in the area. You could tutor peer or younger students and help kids out with homework. You might also help with activities in afterschool programs.



3. Animal Shelters

Students who love animals may be interested in animal shelters. Keep in mind that there are often age restrictions, so check with a prospective shelter first if you’re under 18.


Work may involve any number of activities. You might play with the animals, walk dogs, or bottle-feed kittens. But don’t expect it to be all glamorous; you might also be expected to help with cleaning, too.


Check out Extracurricular Activities with Animals for High Schoolers if you’re an animal lover.



4. Food Banks or Soup Kitchens

Food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters are often looking for volunteers to help prepare and serve food. Some may have age restrictions, such as a rule that no one under 18 can work directly with residents or visitors, but you can probably do behind-the-scenes preparation, run a canned goods drive, or prepare food. Just check with the volunteer coordinator.


This is a great opportunity for students who have an interest in working with people, cooking, or being involved in their communities.



5. Places of Worship

Get involved with your place of worship. This opportunity might appeal to religious students especially. You might organize a group of volunteers who are members, run a food drive, or help out with events. You could also being a teacher’s aide at Sunday school, which can give you teaching experience.


Extracurriculars, such as community service, can play an important role in getting into top colleges. Is your profile strong enough? Calculate your chances for free right now.



6. Libraries

Volunteering at a library should appeal to literary types, writers, and avid readers. This way, you get to be around books frequently. Tasks might include shelving books, assisting librarians with miscellaneous tasks, doing paperwork, or working with patrons. Check out 50 Summer Activities for High School Students for more information.



7. Museums

Depending on the type of museum, this activity might appeal to artists, art historians, historians, and other interested in the museum’s content.


Assist curators, help out with workshops and tours, or work in the office. Some museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, offer high school internships, which is another option to explore if you want to learn about museums and what it’s like to work at one.



8. Parks or Beaches

Helping out at a local park or beach could appeal to outdoorsy types, people who care about the environment, or students who plan to pursue majors or careers in environmental science or engineering, biology, and other related fields.


Some parks and beaches might have established programs in which you could participate. Or you might initiate a beach or park cleanup or collect trash.



9. Nonprofits

Get work experience at a local nonprofit dedicated to a cause you admire. Examples include a sustainability project, women’s organization, or housing project. This type of volunteering not only allows you to help out in your community, but also enables you to gain work experience. Working at a nonprofit should appeal to any student, assuming the organization represents a cause that’s important to you.



Finding the Right Opportunity for You

No matter what your passion is, chances are, there’s a community service opportunity for you. Make the most of these opportunities by asking questions and taking part in activities that might be outside of your comfort zone. As a volunteer, particularly for people under the age of 18, some of the tasks may not be glamorous, but know that you’re doing your part in your community and learning important skills for the future.


For more information on community service opportunities for high school students, check out:


Community Service, Reimagined: MCC’s Recommendations for High School Service

So You Want To Make A Difference: Strong College Options for Public Service


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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.