It only takes a good spirit to do something good for the community.
Take the example of Nikhiya Shamsher, a class VIII student from Bangalore who has launched two initiatives to educate the underprivileged. By means of Bags, Books and Blessings, she donates bags, books and study material to poor children. Her Yearn to Learn initiative helps set up science and math laboratories in schools that are constrained by funds.
Or look at Armaan Aggarwal, a class IX student from New Delhi who has initiated Kachra 2 Kompost, a project that aims to create a zero waste society by educating people about recycling and proper waste management. As part of his eco-friendly initiative, he has been creating awareness around composting from kitchen and household waste and urging people to buy composting units.
Ranjot Kaur, a class VII student from Bath, Amritsar, is yet another example. Ranjot runs a teaching centre that provides basic education to out of school students and child labourers.
Get inspired by these children and become a catalyst for change. This is your chance to do something meaningful that will help others around you.
What's right for me?
When thinking about volunteering for community service/ social work, ask yourself the following questions:
- How much time can I commit towards community service?
- What talents or skills can I offer?
- What do I want to gain from volunteering for community service/ social work?
- Will I enjoy volunteering?
Once you decide you want to do some community service/ social work, think about the problems or issues in your neighbourhood or community that concern you.
When you’ve selected or narrowed your volunteer interests, talk to your parents, friends, teachers, counsellors and people in NGOs to see if they have suggestions on how to go about it. Also, read your local newspaper, watch and listen to the television and radio news for more ideas.
There are many reasons to volunteer. But one should be universal—to do something you can enjoy. After you’ve made a choice, commit yourself to it and keep the following in mind:
- Be flexible. It is rare to find the ‘perfect’ fit right away.
- Keep an open mind. You might discover something new that interests you
- Be persistent. Volunteer coordinators are often busy, so don't assume they're not interested in you if they don't call you right away.
- Attend orientation meetings held with regards to the activity you want to do. Informed volunteers are the best volunteers.
- Gaining the extra knowledge will help you do the best job possible.
- Be responsible. Show up on time and follow through with your commitments so that people know they can depend on you.
- Don't expect to start at the top. You have to work hard and prove your worth before you are given more responsibility.
- Expect to get plenty of personal enjoyment and satisfaction from your volunteer experiences.
What can a volunteer do?
Volunteering ideas are endless. Here are some community service ideas for students to help you get started:
- Medicine / Healthcare
- Supporting people with special needs
- Environment conservation
- Helping the underprivileged
- Spreading the word
- Your own special brand of Help
Medicine / Healthcare
If the healthcare field interests you, consider:
- Volunteering for the pulse polio drive or at a medical clinic for the poor. You can help patients with their meals, fill their forms, etc.
- Collecting toys or books for entertaining kids in the hospital
- Participating in walkathons or other fundraising activities to fight major diseases or to provide medical care for those who can't afford it
If looking after animals is your passion, you can:
- Help set up small animal shelters and feed and walk the residents
- Assist with adoptions
- Inform NGOs about vaccinations due
- Work on awareness campaigns and plan fundraising activities
If you enjoy reading, you've got a skill that's easy to share. You can:
- Read stories to children at a community shelter for the homeless or abused
- Set up a story hour in your school, your local library or a children's hospital
- Read to an elderly neighbour or blind person
- Volunteer at a local organization that needs readers
Supporting people with special needs
If you want to be a special friend to people with mental or physical disabilities, consider:
- Planning field trips to parks, recreation and sports activities, or arts and crafts programmes for local groups and residential facilities for people with disabilities
- Spending time with them and mentoring them psychologically
- Learning the sign language and teaching other children in your school how to use it
Not only will your skills contribute to the programmes, but you may help change public perception about people who have special challenges.
Preserving the planet is an important issue. You can help by:
- Starting different types of recycling programmes in your neighbourhood or school
- Planting trees in your neighbourhood and involving others to help you nurture them
- Cleaning up your neighbourhood to make it a plastic free zone
- Creating awareness about waste disposal in your school or colony
Past honourees in the United States have set up programmes for recycling tyres, motor oil, telephone books, greeting cards, Christmas trees, and computer ink cartridges.
Helping the underprivileged
There are many people around you who aren’t as privileged as you are. Help them:
- Put in extra hours for activities like tutoring children from low income families around your neighbourhood or school
- Share your athletic talents by coaching swimming, basketball, football, tennis, badminton, or other sports in low-income areas.
- Volunteer for community projects that help construct basic facilities for the poor
- Distribute food at orphanages and community shelters
- Organize school or neighbourhood campaigns to collect food, clothing, books, toys, school supplies, eyeglasses, woollens, medicines and small gifts for the less privileged
Spreading the word
Perhaps you'd like to educate fellow students about an issue that's important to you. For example, you could:
- Warn fellow students about drug or alcohol abuse, AIDS, or negative peer pressure, ragging, etc.
- Promote important ideals such as religious tolerance, a clean environment, or traffic safety
- Put together an educational presentation and take it to schools in your area, or launch a general awareness campaign in your community
Your own special brand of help
If you want to do something in your own special way, put on your creative thinking cap. Brainstorm with friends, or form a volunteering club at your school that can work on a wide variety of community service projects. You'll be surprised at what you can do.