Volunteering has always been a big part of my life. I was born and raised in the United Methodist Church, which places an emphasis on outreach and mission.
Throughout middle school and high school, I participated in many mission trips with my youth group.
In college, I became involved in a program called Alternative Breaks, which gives students the opportunity to go on a service trip during winter or spring break.
I have always loved service and volunteering, and I encourage people to volunteer as possible.
I know that volunteering is not limited to someone’s age. People of every age can volunteer and give back in some way. However, I believe that the best time to volunteer is when you’re in college. Here’s why:
1. You Have The Time
You may not feel like you have the time to volunteer, but you do. You’re not yet locked into a career that only gives you so much time off.
You don’t have children or a family that needs you, so you can take a day or a week or even a month to go volunteer somewhere.
You have weekends and breaks, which are perfect times to go out and do some volunteering.
2. You Have The Energy
You’re young, which means you have more energy than older people. You have the drive and the stamina to do good work.
You and some friends can totally build a shed in a week, or you can keep up with children in a day camp program.
For some reason, youth makes you resilient and enthusiastic, which are two traits that are perfect for volunteers.
3. You Have The Opportunities
There are literally hundreds of opportunities to volunteer on college campuses. Service organizations often base their programs around school breaks and Relay for Life comes to a lot of college campuses.
Student Life may organize one-day volunteer opportunities on the weekend. I’m sure that you’ve had your inbox flooded with emails announcing volunteer opportunities. There are so many, that some are bound to fit into your schedule.
4. You’ll Meet New People
The great thing about volunteering in college is that you’ll meet people your age and connect with them. I have loved all three Alternative Breaks groups with whom I went on trips.
They were comprised of people I normally would not have associated with, but I loved every single one of them. They all have a special place in my heart and memory.
When you volunteer with people, you work with them to do something good, and that creates a special bond.
5. You’ll Gain A New Perspective
Volunteering introduces you to people who live different lives than you do. When you volunteer, people are willing to share their stories with you and in hearing those stories, you gain new perspectives.
You learn that deaf culture is one of the most open and loving in the world. You learn that the Cherokee people appreciate it when people take the time to learn about their traditions and life.
You hear about how people came to one of the poorest areas of Appalachia. You learn what kids care about. Suddenly, you see the world in a different light.
You can share these different perspectives with your family and friends, in the classroom and with other people you meet. It’s amazing.
6. It’ll Look Good On A Résumé
I’m not saying you should volunteer solely to pad your résumé; that’s a terrible thing to do. You should volunteer because you want to — potential employers can definitely tell if you only volunteered to build up your résumé.
However, volunteering will make you look good. A potential employer will look at a candidate who has volunteered and will likely ask about that experience. Your stories and passion will shine, and you will be remembered.
7. It Gets You Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Your major, your college town, your friends and your family can turn into safety blankets for you in college. They become comfort zones and volunteering gets you out of them. It provides you with experiences you’ve never had before.
I had never laid bricks and then, I went on an Alternative Breaks trip. I didn’t know sign language and then, I worked with the deaf community.
I’m not one to go out and get to know a new group of people, but volunteering forced me to do so. You experience things that you never have before, and it’s awesome.
8. You’re Infectiously Enthusiastic
There’s something about being young that makes every experience awesome. So what if you have to build your own bunk beds?
We’ll do it! So what if we only have a week? We’ll get the work done. So what if you’re dead tired because you stayed up too late talking to everyone? We have work to do!
Young people, especially college students, have enthusiastic and driven attitudes that are completely infectious.
Sometimes, it won’t even feel like you’re working because you’ll be having so much fun. Even if the work wipes you out and you’re completely exhausted, you’ll still end the day with a smile on your face.
9. Volunteering Is Healthy
It’s no secret that college can sometimes be very stressful and suck away some happiness. Volunteering breaks you out of that state of mind.
It reduces stress and boosts optimism and happiness. It’s mentally and physically healthy for you. Volunteering sometimes entails hard physical labor, like building or demolition.
Sometimes, it entails working with kids you have to keep up with or animals that need exercise. Volunteering promotes physical activity and is one of the best ways for you to be healthier and happier.
10. Because It Helps
This is the number one reason why anyone and everyone should volunteer. By volunteering, you are showing people that you care about them. You give people someone to talk to, and you give them the help they need.
No matter how short your time is with someone is, you can make a real and true difference in another person's life.
So, go volunteer today.