By Annie Humphrey
If you are a high schooler looking to acquire scholarships, you most likely need to complete community service hours to qualify. To become a Tennessee Scholar, students need to complete a total of 80 hours of service throughout high school. The Tennessee Promise requires eight hours, and volunteering makes a student eligible for a multitude of other scholarships.
Along with the academic benefits, volunteering is also a great way to help serve the community. It provides volunteers a chance to give back, find a sense of purpose and become a more happy individual. Not only do you as the volunteer benefit, but the organization and cause you choose to serve does too. If you find a cause that you are passionate about, there is almost always some way that you can volunteer with it. In this article, you can find some places that accept volunteers under 18 and help out with a wide range of different causes.
Throughout Mt. Juliet and the greater Nashville area, there are plenty of organizations that teens can volunteer at, many of which help care for animals. One of these is the Mt. Juliet Animal Shelter where you can help out with walking, feeding and playing with cats and dogs along with an adult family member if you are under 18. If you are interested in more exotic animals and conservation, consider the ZooTeen branch of the Nashville Zoo volunteers. There, you work with other teens to teach visitors about the exhibits and the zoo’s mission. It will fulfill the majority of service hour requirements, establish great connections and supply you with helpful experience.
If you are passionate about helping other people, there are several other great options as well. If you are 16 and older, you and a chaperone can help build affordable houses for families in need with Habitat for Humanity. You could also help out the families of children with special needs by becoming a Volunteer Buddy at Nathaniel’s Hope Buddy Break program. There, anyone over the age of 14 can undergo a training session and help care for special needs children and their siblings one Friday per month at a local church.
The Mt. Juliet Help Center helps struggling families meet their needs right here in your city, and they are always looking for extra assistance. On weekday mornings when school is out, you can help out with processing donations, filing food orders, cleaning, sorting clothes and more. You could even take initiative and organize a food drive or fundraiser to benefit the Help Center.
There are also plenty of opportunities to earn service hours in the smaller community of MJHS. Many clubs are completely devoted to service while others complete service projects every so often. Some of these organizations include Beta Club, Interact Club, Key Club, Student Council and Students for Sustainability. JROTC frequently participates in community service as well. It is easy to get involved and serve others with the programs here at MJHS.
A survey of students was taken to find out if and where they volunteer and how it affects them. The majority of the surveyed students said that they were attempting to earn service hours in order to qualify for a scholarship. However, less than half of the total students have volunteered at the school. Those who have participated in the school community listed the various places they have helped at.
The most frequent answer was through church, but there were several other different service opportunities represented. Some of them included the Nashville Railroad Club, elementary schools, nursing homes, Meals on Wheels and the Nashville Zoo. This diverse range of volunteer work shows that there are plenty of ways to get involved in your community.
When asked how these activities affected them, not a single student lacked something positive to say. Several said that it provided them with valuable experience for future jobs and allowed them to meet new people. Other students commented on how the experience changed them as a person.
One included that the experience “makes me feel like I’m giving back to my community for all the things they have done for me” while another stated that volunteering “has shaped me into becoming a better person.”
As you can see, volunteering is extremely beneficial to students and the community, and there is an abundance of opportunities to get involved near you.