Students and Community Service

Student Involvement in Community Service

Dear Students, I am sure all of you are happy and keep enjoying the holidays. The summer’s heat may not permit you to take up many outdoor activities and may not permit many adventures you were planning for. All the same I wish to propose something interesting for you, not relating to your studies directly, but, some interesting activities that will take you away and yet help you to focus when you get back to your school.

I would like to propose something about community service that you can get involved with  which may give you enough meaning and happiness in your life.

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A generation ago, “community service” was a punishment imposed on juvenile offenders. Maybe that’s because the good students weren’t exactly jumping out of bed at 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning to serve hot meals at a local shelter or collect trash at a local park.

Community service is donated service or activity that is performed by someone or a group of people for the benefit of the public or its institutions. Volunteers may provide community service, however, not everyone who provides community service is seen as a volunteer, because some people who provide community service are not doing it of their own free will; they are compelled to do so by their government as a part of citizenship requirements, in lieu of military service; the courts, in lieu of, or in addition to, other criminal justice sanctions proposed in some countries; their school, to meet the requirements of a class, such as in the case of service learning or to meet the requirements of graduation, or, in the case of parents, required to provide a certain number of hours of service in order for their child to be enrolled in a school or sports team.

Community services performed by youth is also referred to as youth service. Youth service is intended to strengthen young peoples’ senses of civic engagement and community, and to help them achieve their educational, developmental and social goals. Youth service hours and/or projects is often required for advancement, e.g. for a Scout to advance to the next rank or for a high school student to graduate.

Service learning is the deliberate connection of community service to stated learning goals. A common misconception among educators, youth workers, and young people is the notion that service learning can be assigned. Several experts  attest to the necessity of engaging youth in deliberating, planning, implementing, and reflecting on their community service, thereby sustaining high-quality service learning. This is intended to make community service an effective learning tool.

Not many students are thinking whether or not they should be doing some kind of extra curricular activity to enhance their school portfolios. The truth is that they should be if they are considering attending College. Whether it is a larger University or a Community College, students should try to have the best background possible when it comes to filling out College applications. For example, take two students and one student has great grades but nothing else, there are no sports, no clubs or community activities. Then you have a student with good grades but has done extra work aside from schooling. The school board of the College that they want to attend may favor the student with the good grades and the extras as opposed to the student with just the great grades.

This doesn’t mean that you have to use up all of your spare time playing sports or joining every club that your high school offers. A great way to enhance your background to perform some community services. There are so many great ways to help out your community. You can donate as much time as you have to give. Many organizations would welcome just a few hours a week. If this sounds like something you are interested in but don’t know where to get started, we can help. Start by making a list of things that you want to do. There are many great places to work and help the community without a special skill.

Today, though, more and more students are giving up their leisure time to help out their communities who not only are good in their classes, but also are helpful in their communities.

I am sure by now you must be contemplating about your involvement  in community service. Where do you start?

In the first place, look at your interests and abilities. You would have understood about yourself or your parents or friends would have spoken to you about the obvious interests you have had in the past.  Try matching them to a charitable organization that focuses on those same things.

Let’s start with how much time you want to dedicate to the organization. You should keep in mind that this should be something that you want to do and not something that you feel obligated to do. Once the community service starts to become a chore, you will not want to continue and those who have counted on you will be the ones who suffer. So realistically, think of how much time you want to give. Maybe a couple of hours a few times a week or maybe half a weekend day. Whatever you choose will be helpful but make sure that it is something that you can commit to.

Then take a look online at organizations in your community. These organizations are based on people who are able to give their time to those people who really need it. The ideal way is to enter into any of the Don Bosco Institute and ask them if you can be of some help in organising their summer camps. You can volunteer at their school, hospital or nursing homes. You can offer your time to read and play with sick children in their villages. It can even be as simple as going door to door and asking neighbours if they need help with shopping, baby sitting, lawn care etc. Then you can ask for letters of recommendation after a few months. These are just as good as working for places like the Red Cross. Talk to your guide at school or college and see if they can help you choose something that will make a difference in the community and help get you started on that great College resume.

There are many community service ideas available for students who are genuine and serious about this issue. Helping the old people is a task which can be done by the students. You can visit senior or elderly citizen centers and help them with their day to day needs. Giving health related tips, providing them with sources of entertainment like books and magazines to read, training them on arts by conducting singing lessons, music activities and paintings, taking them for a walk or a long drive, are some ideal community service hours ideas. You can make some individual or group donations to charitable organizations to take care of the elderly.

Helping underprivileged children seek good education, ensuring their medical care and well being, visiting orphanages and providing children emotional support, arranging for funds and finance for expensive medical treatments like surgeries for poor kids, helping the unemployed get jobs by imparting proper training in soft-skills, are some very creative community service hours ideas, which you can definitely implement. Taking care of homeless people – especially children, is of prime importance. You can arrange for good quality food, water and other basic facilities for these people to enhance the quality of life they live, by raising their standard of living.

Apart from the human beings, the community service hours ideas also involve taking care and showing compassion towards the animals. Adopt an animal, if possible and take good care or simply try to create awareness among the people through campaigns. Good citizens of the country should be concerned about the environment and should do their bit for protecting it. Create environmental awareness through slogans, seminars, press conferences and guide the people to use environment friendly items. Try to fight the global issue of environmental pollution by seeking help from political parties and the government. Ensure that there is general cleanliness in your locality, to prevent the spread of diseases. Read more on environmental issues.

The number of people suffering due to smoking and alcohol addiction, and those consuming narcotic substances has risen alarmingly, which is a matter of concern. You can help these people get rid of their addiction by proper counseling and working in de-addiction centers. Read more on communities and community service ideas for kids.

We all know that democracy is essential for the progress of a nation. You should help promote democracy and raise your voice to fight any injustice against anybody in the society. It is important that you look at the community service hours from a social service point of view rather than a ‘burden for getting a
degree’.

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SOME  PROJECTS YOU CAN TAKE UP DURING THIS SUMMER

Cleaning a park.

Collecting items for charity such as clothes, food, or furniture.

Getting involved with building houses for the poor.

Cleaning roadside garbage.

Helping the elderly in nursing homes.

Helping the local fire or police service.

Helping the traffic police.

Helping in some government  hospitals.

Helping out at a local library.

Tutoring children with learning disabilities.

Cleaning nursing home gardens.

Getting the illiterates in touch with advocates to solve their legal issues.

Cleaning a gutter with the help of a city corporation.

Merlyn Ross

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