Looking at volunteering? Think big!

Looking at volunteering? Think big!
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Volunteering can be a huge part of a high schooler’s life -- indeed many school boards won’t graduate you if you haven’t put in your hours. But instead of simply signing up with a local charity and putting in your time, how about setting up your own charity and making a go of it yourself? You’ll still end up doing some good, and end up with a nice portfolio piece (not to mention valuable experience) as well.

First, come up with your idea. Maybe there’s a child in your neighborhood who has medical expenses. Or maybe an old person who has fallen behind in her bills. Maybe a playground needs to be cleaned up or repaired. Maybe you could line up several projects over the course of a school year. Chances are you’ll find all kinds of need right in your community that you never knew about. Ask around. Maybe a small group would be willing to put you in charge of a specific project.

Second, make sure you’ll get credit for the activities you’re planning, assuming your school requires volunteer hours. Talk to the staff at your high school, or even the school board. Explain what you’re hoping to do, and include all of it: fundraising, publicity, goals, everything. Don’t do a single thing unless you’ve got the green light.

Third, if money is involved, make sure you document everything. Every nickel should go on a spreadsheet and be documented with bank balances and receipts. Chances are your project won’t be big enough to require tax information, but make sure you don’t break any tax laws.

Now it gets fun. Build a website, start a Facebook group, take photos, make videos. Come up with a name for your little nonprofit, maybe come up with a cool logo. Think about fundraisers if you need money, such as race sponsoring, local concerts, you name it. Document all of it online.

Yes, it sounds like a lot of work, and it’s not for everyone. But it’s a fantastic way to meet people, and you’ll get tons of real-world experience that will serve you well down the road as you apply for college. It will also help your job hunt.

The key is to do everything by the book. Watch any money that’s involved, follow any and all rules and regulations. The great thing is, pulling it off will be proof to the world that you have ideals and that you can handle responsibility. Go for it!

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