As fun as Habitat for Humanity is (seriously, it's awesome), some of us aren't the best with hand-eye coordination and struggle with putting together an IKEA bookshelf. Thus, putting together a house might not suit your fancy. However, there are some great community service opportunities that will look awesome on your college apps and don't involve putting hammer to nail at all!
#HashtagLunchbag is a movement dedicated to utilizing social media to bring awareness to and eliminate hunger in local communities. On Christmas Day in 2012, the founders all chipped in some money to buy food, assemble lunch bags and give them to the local homeless community. It started with a small group of friends in an apartment and has since grown into a global effort.
If you have a passion for stopping hunger, this organization is for you. To get involved, there are a few simple steps. First, find a group of friends who are interested in helping out as well. Next, go grocery shopping (a shopping list can be downloaded here. Then, put your lunch bags together and find somewhere to distribute them to people in need. Last, share what you’re doing on social media with #HashtagLunchbag to get the buzz going!
2. Girls on the Run
Love working with kids, running or both? Then Girls on the Run may be for you! Girls on the Run aims “to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running”. The organization teaches life skills in small teams that meet twice a week for 10 to 12 weeks. The 24-lesson program is taught by certified Girls on the Run coaches. Each team organizes a community service event and participates in a 5k at the end of the training.
Haley Cahill, a senior at Appalachian State University, did something unique for Girls on the Run with her school’s Her Campus chapter. “We contacted a local [GOTR] chapter and asked if we could come to one of their practices and bring them healthy snacks to eat before they practiced while we told them about what Her Campus is and how it empowers women,” she says. “We hung out with them a few minutes after, and it was a fun experience to get to spend time with these younger girls and tell them about something they weren't familiar with.”
This is a great option for you if you enjoy working with kids because you’ll serve as these young girls’ inspiration. Also, if you’re a health fiend, the 5k may spark your interest. To get involved, you can apply to become a coach or volunteer at your local Girls on the Run event.
3. Project Linus
Feeling crafty? If so, Project Linus may be for you! This organization provides homemade blankets to children in need. If you sew, knit or crotchet, you can make a blanket to donate to an ill or traumatized child. If you aren’t the crafty type, don’t worry! Donate a simple no-sew fleece blanket instead.
Project Linus is a rewarding and fun service opportunity perfect for creative pre-collegiettes who want to help a child in need. Find the chapter that’s closest to you and drop off your donation. If there’s no chapter in your area, ship your donation to the closest one.
BeadforLife is an organization that seeks to end poverty. Ugandan women make jewelry from recycled newspaper and use the money they make as a steady source of income. To get involved, you can host a BeadforLife Marketplace (a platform to sell these women’s jewelry) for no cost and help make a difference in these women’s lives. You can hold a marketplace in person (at your house or church), online or both! BeadforLife will send you all the supplies you need, and profits will go directly to helping these women afford education and start businesses.
Emily Megin, a sophomore at Clemson University, hosted a BeadforLife Marketplace when she was in high school. “Hosting a BeadforLife party was a really great experience because of the way people came together to support such a unique group of women,” she says. “It was also really amazing to see the hard work these women put in to making such beautiful pieces of jewelry.”
If you’re interested in helping these women get out of poverty or want to share their hard work with your family and friends, this community service opportunity is a great option.
5. Dance Marathon
Dance Marathon is a movement involving high school and college students across the country raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in their area. It began in 1991 and has grown tremendously since then! Students spend a year raising money and interacting with the children’s hospital patients and families. There is then a 12- to 40-hour-long event during which students stay on their feet dancing and celebrate the money they raised.
Iris Goldsztajn, a junior at the University of California, Los Angeles who participated in her school’s Dance Marathon, says, “I am so happy I made the wacky decision to stand on my feet for 26 hours, and I'm absolutely doing it again this year. The morning of, I hated myself for committing to it, but the event was incredible. Speakers, DJs, food and games made it super fun, but above all, there was a true sense of being united towards a good cause unlike anything I've seen before. I even made some new friends and bonded with old ones!"
To host your own Dance Marathon, there are four steps. First, get a group of five to 15 interested students together. Next, find an adviser who will support you throughout the process. Then, contact your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital to get them involved in the process. Last, contact Dance Marathon to let them know that you’re interested in participating; they’ll guide you along the way!
Whichever community service opportunity you choose to pursue, don’t stress, have fun and know you’re making a difference. You won’t need a hard hat or gloves for these unique opportunities, but you’ll still have something awesome on your applications and know you’re doing good in your community. Happy volunteering!