5 Ways to Help Youth and Teens Participate in National Volunteer Week 

This week, BGCA’s Erica Warren partners with Jessi Kaminski, senior communications manager at Do Something to bring you five great service project ideas for National Volunteer Week. 

Did you know that the third week of April is National Volunteer Week? That means in 2023, it will be April 16 – 23! National Volunteer week is celebrated on the third week of April every year and it is dedicated to recognizing the important work and leadership of community leaders and to remind everyone of the importance of volunteering in their local communities. 

Youth have a lot to gain from volunteering, including developing social-emotional skills in leadership, collaboration, and empathy. Not only that, but some volunteer work can also help young people develop important career-specific readiness skills. For example, if a young person volunteers as an aid in a senior center, they can take advantage of this volunteer work to shadow employees and learn important job skills and build a network of adults who can help by mentoring, aiding in getting a first job, and writing letters of recommendation to colleges or post-secondary programs.

Graphic quote with white letters on a red background reading Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart. Elizabeth Andrew.

DoSomething.Org, the national hub for young activism, activates young people to take action on social causes through its volunteer, social impact, or civic action programs. Many of DoSomething’s programs offer volunteer credits, which many colleges and universities now require young people to earn. In honor of National Volunteer Week, here are 5 ways youth can get involved through current DoSomething programs: 

Power to the Period: This project asks young people to collect unopened packages of period products and donate them to a local homeless shelter. They will earn verified volunteer credits and support ¼ menstruating young people who struggle to manage their periods. You can amplify this activity by helping youth organize to make sure period products are available for free at the Club. One idea is to organize a period locker filled with grab-and-go period kits. To make each kit special, include a handmade positive affirmation card and a sweet or salty snack! 

Women Community Sticker by DoSomething for iOS & Android | GIPHY

5 Cans Challenge: This simple challenge asks youth to collect and recycle 5 aluminum cans! Just 5! To really amplify this challenge for Club youth, have them do this activity as a group with each youth collecting at least 5 cans each. 

Community Sustainability Sticker by DoSomething for iOS & Android | GIPHY

GTFO: Get the Filter Out: Cigarette butts are harmful to humans, animals, and the environment. For this challenge, youth will clean up the most littered item on the planet and the single greatest source of ocean trash! Amplify this challenge in your Club by talking about the health harms of cigarettes (and vapes!). 

Community Environment Sticker by DoSomething for iOS & Android | GIPHY

Comeback Clothes: Did you know that nearly 95% of all textiles can be reused or recycled, but only about 15% actually gets recycled? Of all recyclable materials, textile reuse and recycling has the second highest potential to reduce greenhouse gases! In this simple challenge, youth will donate or recycle clothes and other household textiles to earn volunteer credits! Make it a collaborative effort by hosting a clothing drive or tap into your arts program to upcycle donated textiles to create period kit pouches (make sure to wash donated fabrics first!). 

Community Sustainability Sticker by DoSomething for iOS & Android | GIPHY

Tackle Hunger: Food insecurity effects millions of Americans each year. For this activity, youth will collect non-perishable food items to donate to a local food bank.  

Food Community Sticker by DoSomething for iOS & Android | GIPHY

And we’ve got a BONUS with the Uncensored Scholarship Opportunity, due April 30! While this is not a volunteer activity, you can build on this scholarship opportunity to create a volunteer activity. Uncensored calls for youth to read a banned book and share with their peers the value diverse books and stories have in society. Youth can win a $1000 scholarship for participating. You can make it a volunteer activity by hosting a read-a-thon in your Club to raise money or collect books for a local youth shelter or other organization in your community. 

Each of these activities requires little preparation and shows youth and teens how easy it is to help make their communities better for everyone. Don’t forget about BGCA’s SMART Girls in Action or the Youth Service Guides for ages 10-12 and ages 6-9 as additional sources for volunteerism ideas. 

What are your Club’s favorite volunteer activities? How do you help youth and teens connect with their communities? We want to share! Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org.

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