Summer Volunteer and Community Service Opportunities for Teens

Keep kids busy this summer by giving back to the community and volunteering

School is out and, for some, summer boredom may have already set in. Volunteering and giving back to the local community is a rewarding and enriching way to keep teens busy and fulfilled all summer. Community service keeps kids active, and it's always free. It also looks great on a college application. Summer is a perfect time for kids to log some great community service hours instead of lounging around on the couch. And, of course, volunteering isn't limited to summertime; many of these opportunities are available during the school year on weekends and evenings as well. We've compiled a list of a few great opportunities in the area.

Free Library of Philadelphia
If your kid loves books, the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) is a great place to volunteer! Kids in grades 7-12 can volunteer at one of the many branches doing things like shelving and being a clerical aide. They can even volunteer as a teen book critic.

St. Peter's Food Cupboard
St. Peter's is always looking for volunteers to help serve food to the homeless. One of the great things about volunteering at this soup kitchen is that you don't need to be committed to specific hours for the whole summer. This is also a great opportunity to bond with your kids and join in to help the needy.

Teen Summer Volunteer Days at Riverbend Environmental Education Center
Teens can learn about nature and the environment this summer at Riverbend Environmental Education Center. Kids will plant, weed, mulch, clear trails, and more in this educational volunteering event. Summer volunteer days happen every Wednesday through August 24 9 AM-12:30 PM.

Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House
The Ronald McDonald House offers volunteering opportunities specifically for teens over the summer. The commitment is twice per week for 8 weeks 9 AM to noon. The Ronald McDonald House provides housing and supportive services for families of seriously ill children so that they can stay in the hospital while their children are being treated. It's a wonderful organization.

Cradles to Crayons
Anyone age 6+ can volunteer here to help disadvantaged children. Sign up for a 2-hour shift on the website and work at one of many stations, including clothing sort, school supplies, toys, and shoes. You'll help sort and pack donations into customized "Kid Packs." This one is a great family bonding opportunity.

This organization is always looking for volunteers and has many different programs and ways to get involved. Help sort and pack food at the South Philly Hunger Relief Center on a weekday (hours provided at the Philabundance website). The second Tuesday of every month is Family Night from 6 PM-8 PM. Or, check out one of the many other opportunities available.

Bartram's Gardens
Kids can learn gardening skills at Bartram's Gardens public volunteer days. Public volunteer days are held the second Saturday of every month from 9 AM to noon. Gardener's must bring their own gloves.

Pennsylvania Hospital and The Franklin Institute also offer great teen summer volunteering programs, but applications were closed at the time this article was written. Please keep this in mind for next summer and get your applications in early!

Photo courtesy of the Cradle to Crayons Facebook page.