Watching the news can be so depressing. There seems to be an endless parade of problems -- people in trouble, people in pain, diseases spreading unchecked, political strife, natural disasters. Isn't there anything you can do about it?
In fact, there is: You can volunteer. And anyone can lend a hand, not only adults - many charitable organizations in the United States will gladly accept help from teenagers.
Volunteering means giving your time to a cause. It allows you to work directly for something you're passionate about. It can help you improve lives in your community and, sometimes, reshape the community itself.
Volunteer work is unpaid work for a charitable organization. To be an official, federally recognized charitable organization, a group must have 501(c)(3) federal not-for-profit status -- but plenty of new organizations might not have this yet, and plenty of volunteer programs operate on a less formal basis.
Nonprofit organizations depend on volunteers for many tasks. Volunteers might stock food-pantry donations or help sort clothing donations. They might stuff envelopes to let the organization's clients and supporters know about upcoming programs. They might work directly with the organization's clients -- offering tutoring or training to people who are trying to better themselves, providing emotional support to people in difficult circumstances, or simply helping with day-to-day activities. Volunteers might staff telephone lines, run copies or update Web sites at a nonprofit's office. Volunteers might help clean up, set up or decorate the facilities for a nonprofit's big fund-raising event.
Doing volunteer work might involve a single day or a weekend. It might demand an hour or two, one or two nights a week. It might involve an entire summer of full-time work. It all depends on which program you choose, and how much of your time you want to give.
In this article, we'll take a look at teen volunteer programs, as well as the immense benefits of volunteering as a teen.