Teenagers are walking paradoxes — they can simultaneously be the most difficult children to get along with and the family members most capable of good. They can be angsty and moody or hardworking and kind. And in any case, they’re our hope for a better tomorrow.
So there’s no better time than now for teens to learn to give back by volunteering to provide selfless service. Here are five local volunteer opportunities that welcome teens.
1. Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity of Utah County “helps lift people, fosters hope, and unites diverse groups to improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities by building, renovating, and repairing homes.” In addition to home construction and renovation projects, Habitat for Humanity of Utah County is also seeking volunteers to help with gift wrapping during the holiday season and with other projects during the year. Volunteer forms for both youth and adults are available online.
2. United Way
United Way of Utah County helps individuals and families by supporting charities with education-, income- and health-related focuses. Because the variety of agencies involved with United Way varies so widely, there’s something for every volunteer. United Way has volunteer opportunities for individuals, groups, corporations and Boy Scouts looking for Eagle projects. Opportunities vary by agency and are outlined on United Way’s website.
3. American Red Cross Blood Donation
Most 17-year-olds and some 16-year-olds are eligible to donate blood with the American Red Cross, which uses donated blood and blood products to help in medical procedures around the region. Someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds, which means more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day. The Red Cross helps meet this great demand by accepting donations only from volunteers. Each person’s contribution can help significantly—one pint of blood can save up to three lives. Find a local blood drive using the tool on this web page.
4. Utah Valley Regional Medical Center
Most volunteers at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center are over 18, but junior volunteers — ages 14 to 17 — are also welcome (see requirements and contact information here).
But if that kind of a commitment doesn’t have a strong appeal, teenagers are welcome to participate in one of several suggested service projects that benefit patients at the hospital. Volunteers are welcome to create and donate blankets, quilts, pillowcases and pajama bottoms. Volunteers also work to provide distraction toys and craft kits for pediatric patients.
5. Food bank
Provo’s Community Action Services and Food Bank works to assist individuals in need and help give them the skills they need to rebuild their lives and become self-sufficient. Teenagers are welcome to help at the Food Bank—youth 12 to 15 years old must be accompanied by a parent; those over 16 are welcome to come alone. Volunteers can schedule in advance or just drop by to help, as long as they wear close-toed shoes. Groups, families and corporations are also welcome to volunteer once or regularly. Visit the organization’s website for more information.