Volunteering can mean the world to others. It enriches the lives of not only those who are receiving help, but also the lives of those who are paying it forward. Helping others can bring a sense of responsibility to students, and possibly even increase success as adults. As part of high school credit, students should be required to be involved within society and complete a set amount of hours of community service or volunteer services for each year of high school.
Volunteering is not required at my school, but we do have clubs and programs that promote involvement in the community. We have a Civil Rights Team, Youth Voices, and Junior Hospital Volunteers to name a few, but no one is required to participate. Programs outside of school also encourage people to participate. There is no community program that will turn down a volunteer, as help is greatly needed and appreciated. Students should not struggle in finding a good cause to work towards. The examples are all over: cleaning a local park, picking up any trash around school, helping at animal shelters, nursing homes, hospitals, Toys for Tots, and so much more.
I have found that participating in community events has made me a better person. I get to experience the satisfaction of what giving to others brings, and I can explore my future. I plan to be a firefighter and paramedic as an adult, and I am currently involved with a junior firefighter program through North Lakes Fire and Rescue.
Being with the people of North Lakes has opened my mind to try new things, and to push myself out of my comfort zone. There are all kinds of volunteer programs that may help prepare students for possible careers they may be interested in. Schools requiring students to perform community service would find their students are better off in the future as a result.
Volunteering may provide the necessary experience and skills students will need in the future. Building people skills is going to be ever so important when it comes to applying for a job. And schools that require community involvement may find their students have higher student success rates as a result. In my community, a student interested in the medical field might be involved with our Junior Hospital Volunteer program, someone interested in working with animals could volunteer at a local animal shelter, or students like me, interested in being a first responder, might join their local volunteer fire department.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volunteering dropped from 26.8 percent of the population in 2011, to 24.9 percent today. That means thousands of people are no longer helping their community. The statistics also showed that those with a higher level of education volunteer more compared to those with less education. Though some schools do require volunteer hours, most do not. This can be an issue as those who do not require volunteer hours can have lower student success rates, and students can even become selfish.
My reason for wanting students to be actively involved with the world is simple. What if I were a lonely old lady in a nursing home? I know I would want someone there spending time with me and talking with me. Or what if I had nothing to eat? People donating canned goods would be everything I could ever want. What if my house was smoldering to the ground and a loved one or I were trapped inside? I know I have to rely on the volunteer firefighters who drop what they are doing to come and save me. I put myself in the shoes of others who have less than me. Volunteering has made me grateful for what I have and to also share it with others.
People shouldn’t do it for money, for a pat on the back, or even for a thank you, but out of the kindness of their hearts. Schools requiring students to volunteer as part of high school credit will make a difference not only to the student, but to those who are in need as well. Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Society needs to open their hearts and volunteer more for those in need, and we can start by requiring it in school.
Amber Sandstrom is a first-year student at Community High School in Fort Kent.
Music: Cold Summer Landscape by Blear Moon. Licensed under a Attribution, Noncommercial, ShareAlike License from http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Blear_Moon/Town_of_Two_Houses/