Young Volunteers Help Community
It's a busy time of year, when you consider all the things that come along with the new school year, including homework and chores. Some may think there isn't enough time for other activities, like volunteering, but it may pay to keep this activity up. You've probably seen the signs on the side of the road telling you who keeps it clean, or you may have seen people at some events you've attended wearing t-shirts that say "volunteer." But have you ever thought about being a volunteer? Some young people who decided to stop watching and start doing are taking on community service.
The Columbia Arts Festival may just seem like another community event to peruse, but take a look behind the scenes, and you'll see more.
"Well, they actually have me lead them through the maze so they can find all the stuff," says volunteer Cody Lancaster.
Lancaster and Dylan Conn are just two of the many volunteers helping to make this community event possible.
"It makes me feel really good 'cause I'm helping all these people and helping with all these events, and a lot of them like couldn't take place without volunteers," Conn says.
Volunteer coordinator Leigh Nutter says young volunteers can help with just as much as their older counterparts.
"We've used them and had them volunteer at many different things, and really there is almost nothing that they can't do that an adult can do, there are even some jobs that maybe young folks are better at than adults," Nutter says.
In fact, the city of Columbia has a volunteer program specifically for young people called Youth in Action. The city puts out a publication to let everyone know how they can help in their community, but service can also benefit those who do it.
"My favorite part about volunteering is that you get to meet new people and have fun with them and do a lot of things you've never done before," Conn says.
"I'm getting extra credit for my social studies class, and I'm also helping out," Lancaster says.
Schools, including colleges, want involved students learning the value of volunteerism early on, and how that can lead to fuller futures.
"When young people do volunteer it does give them ownership in the community, and down the road they'll serve on boards or do fundraising or take on a bigger leadership role, so I definitely think that's one of the benefits... That they can see firsthand how organizations can improve our city," Nutter says.
"It's definitely going to help with the rest of my life because I got to find out a lot of things that I wouldn't have known without volunteering," Conn says.
The kids say they can see the benefits volunteering has for them and their community, but they also say they can see how other young people may not be interested in being active in community service.
Conn says as his peers get older he thinks they'll see how volunteerism can help them get ahead in life while helping others.
He says it's worth raising your voice and pitching in to make your community a better place.