More hours, less stress

Students find stress-free community service organizations

Sophomore+Devaki+Sharma+volunteers+at+the+Seminole+County+Public+Library.+Sharma+volunteered+every+Wednesday+for+four+hours.

Sophomore Devaki Sharma volunteers at the Seminole County Public Library. Sharma volunteered every Wednesday for four hours.

Ahilyn Aguilar, News Editor

It happens. You’re a senior in high school, ready to graduate and it hits you: you need community service hours. With up to 100 hours needed for Bright Futures scholarships, the thought of community service brings stress and panic. But, knowing the right places to volunteer can make getting those hours less stressful, even for seniors who procrastinate.

Here is a guide on how to get the right amount of community service hours and not suffer while doing it.

LOCAL LIBRARIES

For those who like books, kids and organization, the library is one of the easiest, most peaceful ways for those students to get community service hours. Because of this, students desperate for hours tend to look for libraries nearby, such as Seminole County Public Library in Oviedo, since there is a good chance that an opportunity will be open. With a schedule set every week, sophomore Devaki Sharma volunteers at SCPL, putting in four hours every Wednesday. At the library, Sharma shelves books, organizes kid’s book stands and helps out library staff.

“The library is a great place to do your hours because it’s easy, quiet and staff members are very understanding and nice to all the volunteers,” Sharma said. “As volunteers, we don’t have to worry about boredom because there are multiple things to do, something not many students can say about their volunteering organizations.”

Before volunteering, students must attend a training, where they are taught the basics of the library and get assigned the sections they are responsible for. After this, students get to pick a  schedule that works for them and the total amount of hours students plan on receiving at the library.

FORMER SCHOOLS

For students who miss elementary and middle school days and are still in contact with their favorite teachers, completing their hours by volunteering at their old schools can be an enjoyable and effortless experience. Since most elementary and middle schools are open to volunteers, finding a community service opportunity is fast. Because it is close, most students, like sophomore Jacqlene Rosu, get hours at Carillon Elementary School. Volunteering activities in elementary schools can vary based on interests. Students get to decide what grade to work with, who to work for and what subject to work in. Those who volunteer can expect to do activities such as cutting paper, organizing classrooms, tutoring students and supervising after-school programs.  

“Not only do you get to talk to your old teachers, but you get easy work, and if you love kids, volunteering at your old schools will become more of a hobby than a requirement,” Rosu said.

For Rosu, her preference is to work on art with fifth graders, and she gets to set her own schedule of about four hours every week. Before becoming a middle or elementary school volunteer, students are required to sign up to be a Dividends volunteer.

ANIMAL SHELTERS

Animal shelters and pet stores are a good place to volunteer at for those who are animal lovers. With a flexible schedule, nonprofit organizations such as Save a Life Pet Rescue and A New Beginning Pet Rescue offer different volunteering opportunities for students. Sophomore Michael Behrends, a Save a Life Pet Rescue volunteer, serves 10 hours every weekend by encouraging people to adopt dogs. At animal shelters, volunteers like Behrends get to interact with dogs, improve communication skills and learn basic rules of taking care of animals. No experience, training or requirements are needed to volunteer at pet stores or shelters, making it available for any student.

“I hear a lot of people talk about how doing their community service is boring and annoying,” Behrends said. “It used to be that way for me, too, until I started volunteering at an animal shelter, where I get to help dogs and find them a family.”

WORSHIP PLACES

Students who spend a big majority of their time at youth groups and being an active member of their church might enjoy volunteering at a worship center. Places like Avalon Church and United Methodist Church offer programs such as EPIC, where members can complete their community service hours on a weekly basis. Sophomore Katie McKeel spends three hours volunteering at EPIC by greeting guests at events, helping at the cafeteria, doing check-ins for other members and participating in on-stage worship events.

“At EPIC you get to be a role model for younger kids and create moments with your friends, all while earning hours,” McKeel said. “I didn’t know community service could be so easy, fun and relaxing.”

However, most worship places who accept volunteers have a strict schedule. Those who volunteer must be committed to their shift and attend all events, and failure to do so can result in removal from the group.

THRIFT STORES

For those students who love attending garage sales and having their own, thrift stores are the right places to complete service hours. Local thrift stores, such as HOPE Helps, Inc. and Christian Sharing Thrift Store, are non-profit organizations always looking for volunteers to help at the stores or at events. Gaining three hours every week, volunteer junior Charlene Nguyen organizes store items, cleans fitting rooms, takes care of donations, interacts with customers and labels and hangs clothes at HOPE. Those planning on volunteering at thrift stores are expected to have good organizational and communication skills, as well as a level of comfort with working around people as a team.

Once a good place is found to get hours done, the words ‘community service’ won’t be associated with stress or panic. 

“All it takes is just one good and enjoyable place to make your community service hours turn into a pastime,” Nguyen said.

WHERE CAN I VOLUNTEER?

HOPE Helps Inc.

Work: Organize store items, clean fitting rooms, take care of donations, interact with customers and label and hang clothes

Adviser: Tammy Lennox

Phone number:  407-366-3244

Sign up: HOPE Helps volunteer

Carillon Elementary School

Work: Cutting paper, organizing classrooms, tutoring students and supervising after-school programs.

Adviser: Depends on preferred teacher

Phone number: 407-320-4647

Sign up: Dividends volunteer

Save a Life Pet Rescue

Work: Take care of dogs, supervise dogs, encourage people to adopt, know information regarding dogs

Adviser: Nikki Willim

Phone number: 407-952-1858

Sign up: Save a Life Pet Rescue volunteer

Seminole County Public Library

Work: shelf books, work in kid’s sections, clean up kid areas,  organize book stands and help out library staff/

Adviser: Diane Keyes

Phone number: 407-665-1560

Sign up: Must pick up form at library (310 N Division St, Oviedo, FL 32765.)

Avalon Church

Work: greeting guests at events, helping out at events, help members check-in and participating in on-stage worship events.

Adviser: Pastor Jim Groves

Phone number: 407-275-5499

Sign up: Must be active member of church.

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