Service projects can be an enriching way to give back to your community. To get the most out of your community service experience, try to find a project that reflects your skills and interests. For instance, if you enjoy being outdoors, consider helping to beautify a local park by picking up trash or planting trees.
Volunteering at an animal shelter can be a rewarding experience for people who enjoy being around animals. Consult your local shelter to find out if there is a need for any additional help; available jobs might include cleaning or playing with the animals. If you are unable to volunteer at a shelter, consider setting up a fundraiser or head a donation drive to benefit rescued animals. Find out what specific needs the shelter has in terms of supplies or general funding, then proceed accordingly. Host a pet parade or a cutest pet contest in your area and require each participating pet owner to pay a small admission fee or donate pet supplies useful to the animal shelter.
Make a difference in a child's life by offering new skills and companionship through a youth-focused community service project. One option is to spend your time tutoring children in subjects they might be struggling with; choose a subject you feel comfortable with and enjoy to ensure both you and the child get the most out of the experience. If you are an athlete, consider volunteering to coach a youth sports team, or if you are skilled in another recreational field, such as music or art, volunteer to teach classes for free. You might simply spend time with a child who lacks companionship; this quality time should help build social skills and self-esteem.
Visit a local nursing home to spend time with residents; whether you teach a class or simply spend your time conversing, you will provide an invaluable source of companionship. If you don't feel comfortable visiting a nursing home alone, gather a group of friends or community members to entertain the residents with songs or games. And if you have a calm, friendly pet, such as a dog, find out about taking it along with you on your visits for some pet therapy.
If you enjoy being outdoors, an environmentally focused community service project could be right up your alley. Volunteer to clean up trash in your area, or spend time planting trees and flowers to beautify a dreary outdoor public space. Alternatively, investigate the various environmental protection organizations to find one about which you feel particularly strongly. Offer to volunteer for the organization you choose by committing some time to spread the word about the cause. Consider starting a fundraiser in your area to help keep the organization financially stable.
Megan Burns is a graduate from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in political science and Spanish. She has been writing professionally since May 2009 with a Washington, D.C. entertainment blog called Brightest Young Things. Her areas of expertise include music, film and travel.