Volunteering provides more than just a good feeling about the participant's accomplishments. It also offers résumé-building benefits and travel opportunities.
You don't have to stick with local organizations when you're volunteering. Think big! Programs all over the world need volunteers. Volunteers in foreign countries get to experience the beauty of another culture while meeting new people and potentially making lifelong friendships. For a young person, traveling abroad can be an invaluable educational opportunity.
One organization that offers service programs around the world is Habitat for Humanity. Partnerships like its Global Village program provide housing for people in impoverished countries. For more information on programs like this, contact Habitat for Humanity or an organization it partners with -- such as a community church group.
Volunteer experience can really beef up college and job applications. And you don't have to be in high school to start thinking about ways to make yourself a better candidate. Getting an early start with volunteering will give you a leg up on the future competition.
Many businesses, philanthropy foundations and nonprofit organizations that support volunteerism offer college scholarships. National charities and companies such as Ronald McDonald House and Best Buy offer volunteer-based scholarships annually to students across the United States [sources: RMHC, Best Buy].
One way to track down national scholarships like these, as well as local ones, is to contact colleges in your area. It is not uncommon for financial aid or counseling offices to have lists of the scholarships that are available to their students.
If you'd like to know more about volunteering opportunities for kids, see the next page for links to additional information.