Teenagers are an extremely valuable resource. They have energy, good will and creativity to expend in helping their communities. Community service projects fill real needs in various areas, use after school and summer hours in beneficial ways and help fill those blanks in scholarship applications with worthwhile endeavors. Think about the needs in your town, and look through these ideas for ways your young people might be able to help.
Elderly people love to be around youths. If there are housebound older people in your town, your teens could gather their names and find out what they need. The elders would appreciate someone to do their yard and/or housework, shop for them, take meals to them, read to them or take them on outings. You might find that older people are eager to learn how to use a computer, especially email. Teens would be effective tutors in this area. If there is a nursing home nearby, arrange to make regular visits to read or sing to the residents, provide some entertainment or just visit with them.
Moms and Kids
A youth group could run a day camp or vacation Bible school, provide a story hour or craft program at the library, or organize games and activities for school-age children in daycare. Mothers with new babies appreciate help with housework, babysitting for older children, and having meals provided for a week or so. Special-needs kids can be extremely demanding of mom's time, and teens can provide some relief by making themselves available to do whatever will help her.
People in Need
Soup kitchens always need volunteers. Teens can cook, serve meals, visit with people eating and help with cleanup. Food banks also need volunteers, both to man the pantry and arrange food drives and collect donations. Habitat for Humanity has a youth program for young people ages 5 to 25 to help fund and build homes in their community for people in need. Everyone needs to know first aid and CPR. Your youth group could arrange for a class to be taught, advertise it and help make it happen.
Animals in Need
Animal shelters depend on volunteers to walk dogs, bathe animals and clean kennels. Teens could advertise the need for newspapers and towels/blankets for the animal kennels, and collect these donations.
Teenagers can really spruce up a community by designing a project to benefit your town's parks, roadsides or playgrounds. Picking up litter is a perennial need. Planting flowers in parks and repainting, repairing or building playground equipment can really make a difference.
Auction Their Labor
A grand way to help with many different needs is to auction off your teens' labor. This can be combined with a fundraiser spaghetti dinner to support a local cause, and possibly other donated items could be auctioned also. When someone wins the bid on a teen, that teen agrees to provide a predetermined number of hours of labor for the winner. Think through the rules and safety precautions before you set this up.