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Helping Out: Volunteer ideas for tweens, teens

The United Way of the Greater Triangle shares some general ideas for tweens and teens interested in volunteer work, along with some specific agencies that could use some help.

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Last Wednesday, I shared some volunteer tips for preschoolers and grade schoolers courtesy of Dalia Santos, a coordinator at the United Way of the Greater Triangle, which works with local nonprofits and other groups in Wake, Durham and Orange counties.

Today, we're focusing on kids in middle school and high school. Santos shared some general tips for tweens and teens who are ready to volunteer, along with contact information for specific agencies who are looking for help.

Here's what she shared with me:

General projects for middle schoolers and high schoolers:

  • Food pantries and soup kitchens are a great way for this age group to get involved. They can also volunteer in a group and invite their friends to come along and help. Or you can do it as a family.
  • Organize a drive for coats or shoes to be donated to homeless and domestic violence shelters.
  • Older high school students can serve as mentors or tutors at local Boys & Girls Clubs.
  • Organizing merchandise at a thrift store.
  • Many organizations have fund raisers around the holidays and other times during the year and need volunteers to staff. You can find these opportunities on the United Way's Volunteer Solutions site.

These specific agencies could use some help:

  • The Arc of Orange County in Chapel Hill needs volunteers throughout the year, including for its Community Connections program, which teams up volunteers with people with developmental disabilities. It also needs high school volunteers to help out with its summer camp. Contact Susan Chandler or Robin Baker for more information at 919-942-5119.
  • The Food Bank of Central Eastern North Carolina is always in need of groups to help at their warehouses in Durham and Wake counties. The Durham contact is Patrick Spencer at 919-956-2513, ext. 2104. The Wake contact is John Foister at 919-865-3022. (A side note: The food bank also has regular kids days for volunteers ages 5 to 12 and their families).
  • Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Wake County needs volunteers to prepare grocery bags for seniors and low income families. Contact Emily Zartman 919-250-0043 for more information.
  • There are many opportunities for kids to help out the Salvation Army in Raleigh during the holidays and all year. All ages can be bell ringers through Dec. 24. Kids 15 and up with adult supervision can be a Santa's helper at the Toy Shop, helping parents pick out toys and gift for their children Dec. 20 through Dec. 22. All ages cvan help fill 5,000 stockings with goodies by Dec. 10. A guideline of items to be included can be provided and stockings can be picked up at 215 S. Person St. during regular office hours. The Salvation Army has Angel Trees at both Crabtree Valley Mall and Triangle Town Center. Kids 14 and up with adult supervision can help serve at the Soup Line weekdays throughout the year. You must be age 18 and up to volunteer at its Family Store. And there are other opportunities. Contact the Salvation Army at 919-834-6733 or check out its Volunteer page for more information about how you can help.
There are many other agencies who need help now and all year. For other ideas, you can check the United Way's Volunteer Solutions website, which connects volunteers to opportunities across the Triangle. You can search the site by location, special interest or agency.

Make plans to participate in the 6th annual Triangle Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in January. There will be service projects taking place across the Triangle that day including youth and family-friendly projects. Projects should be listed on the Volunteer Solutions site starting Wednesday. Volunteers can use the site to reserve a spot.

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