There is a community service office at most college campuses. Chances are that you have some options available to you that you weren’t even aware of. If you are interested in giving back to your community, making some valuable friends, and having a great time—community service may be the outlet you’re looking for!
So what are some ways that you can get involved? My first advice to you would be to seek out your student or university life office at your school and see if they can put you in touch with the right people. Often times, groups of like-minded students come together and form service groups that may go out in your area already!
However, for the sake of this post, let’s say you don’t have a service office. Don’t fret! There are ways—easy ways—to do your part and get connected with giving back. Are you involved in any student organizations? Why not try hosting a clean up, or neighborhood “Trash Bash”. This idea works well if you are interested in forming partnerships both on and off campus! What better way to make connections than to work together sprucing up your educational stomping grounds!
At my school we made Trash Bash shirts, designed by a student of course, with a fun trashcan logo and then listed all the participating groups on the back. Cleaning up can be a great service activity, but also a great way to advertise your group and get your name seen by other students. Try hosting these “bashes” after heavily populated “party weekends” like Halloween, Homecoming, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring Fling, etc. You will earn major bonus points with administrators and do your part to better the community and surrounding area.
There are numerous other ways to get involved in service. Try searching on the Internet for local soup kitchens, dining halls or shelters. Soup kitchens are a great way to get involved with hands-on, immediate service. Often shelters and kitchens will need extra hands serving, setting and clearing up! Serving food can be a beneficial group activity. It will open your eyes to people who are truly in need and opens doors for advocacy events, information sessions, and even reflection groups that you can bring back or start on your campus!
Another project that can be started with a little coordination is tutoring—either at your school, or neighboring high schools and elementary schools. Younger students benefit from having older mentors who can set a good example and show them the benefits of buckling down and studying. However, make sure you check with the school beforehand for any required background checks, or necessary paperwork that needs to be filled out before you work with children.
In my three years of college, I have found community service to be not only a beneficial activity for the community, but also a rewarding personal experience. I have met some of my very best friends by participating in service projects, and programs and I don’t know what I would do without them. It can be scary at first, but trust me, stepping out of your comfort zone and giving back to the community is hands down the best decision you could ever make in college, or in life. Community service is a life long activity and often, incredibly fun! Try it once, and hopefully you’ll be hooked!
I’m reading Imaginative Writing: The Element of Craft