Community service ideas for teens

happy volunteer girl showing thumbs up sign happy volunteer girl showing thumbs up sign

For teens, being a volunteer means so much, not only to building their character and generous spirit going into adulthood, but also as a way to fulfill their community service requirement for school or clubs, build their resume, and make a difference in their community. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a volunteer opportunity that captures their attention. Here are a few community service ideas to help get inspired.

Quick Community Service Ideas for High Schoolers
• Take a look through your closet to find clothes and accessories you’ve outgrown or just don’t use anymore. If it’s in good condition, give it to Goodwill, or to a shelter.
• Pick up some non-perishables at the grocery store and donate to your local food bank.
• Follow the lead of Movement Mortgage and start collecting toys and books for area children ages newborn through 8th grade. Toy Lift serves the City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson. Visit for more information.
• Have a birthday coming up? Instead of gifts, ask your friends and family to donate to a charity of your choice.
• Give children’s books, novels, and other reading materials to shelters, libraries, and schools.
• Offer to do chores such as housework, yard work, or next winter, shovel the sidewalk and driveway for an elderly neighbor.
Put Your Skills To Work
• Teens are a whiz on computers. Share those skills with seniors.
• Become a volunteer tutor. Let your teachers know that you’re available to help other students, including teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
• An ace at volleyball or other sport? Help the coach or volunteer to coach a youth team yourself.
• Organize a bake sale for a local charity.
One-Day Events
• Volunteer to run/walk for an event, like Race for the Cure or Relay for Life.
• Offer your help taking registrations, handing out water bottles, cleaning up after, or other administrative tasks for an event.
• Participate in a clean up of a riverbed or local park.
• Plant trees for Arbor Day.
• Volunteer with your whole family on Thanksgiving, by serving a meal, in your home or in a local shelter, to someone who needs it.
• Host a food-packaging event at your school to help hungry children with nationwide organizations like 
Long-Term Volunteering
A long-term volunteer commitment is a great thing to put on a high school resume.
• United Way – Thomas Jefferson area, has a volunteer center that was created as a way to give volunteers one place to find volunteer opportunities with hundreds of local nonprofits. Go to for more information.
• Volunteer with animals. Check out your local rescue league, SPCA chapter, or animal shelter to learn how. The Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA, for example, has a Junior Volunteer & School Community Service Program for ages 14-17 and high school students (including 18-year-olds). Visit for more 
• Become a mentor to a younger kid. Look at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge for ways you can help.
• Volunteer at one of the many branch libraries.
• If you like children, volunteer at an organization to help those with special needs, as Angie Woodson did with the Virginia Institute of Autism.
• Contact your school or church to see what volunteer programs they have in place.
• Visit a retirement home and spend time doing fun activities with seniors who lack immediate family.
• Volunteer at a homeless shelter. There are multiple different volunteer options, such as preparing and serving food to people in need.
• Offer to nanny or baby-sit for free to a family in need. Contact a local women’s shelter, department of social services, or church to volunteer your services.
• Help an adult learn how to read. Literacy Volunteers Charlottesville/Albemarle is always looking for volunteer tutors. Read more on