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Great Ideas for Filling Your Community Service Hours

How to Be a Volunteer and Actually Enjoy It

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Filling your volunteer hours doesn't have to be a drag. To get some ideas on what you can do, check out this list of ideas for fun, unique community service projects. Who knows? You might even stick around after you've done your mandatory time.

The Food Bank

Recommended if: you're a people-person who lives to give.
What you'll be doing: Calling your local food bank and seeing what their current needs are. Then you'll go door-to-door collecting nonperishable goods, or organize an effort to collect food at your school. It could be as simple as bringing in a bin, posting flyers and collecting cans outside the cafeteria.
Why you'll like it: It's a great way to start convos with your classmates and neighbors. Plus, everyone's got extra food in their pantries, so you can easily make a big difference.

An Animal Shelter

Recommended if: you're an animal lover with a big heart.
What you'll be doing: Anything from walking dogs to cleaning kitty cages to lending a hand around the office. Check Pets 911 to find a local shelter and see what volunteer opportunities they have for you.
Why you'll like it: Helping save an animal's life - or just making its life better for a couple of hours - is a great feeling that you'll always remember. Plus, you might just meet your new best friend.

A Nursing Home

Recommended if: you're patient and good with people.
What you'll be doing: Often, just spending time with some of the residents. You might be reading to them, playing games with them or helping to organize house events.
Why you'll like it: Brightening the days of some elderly folks can brighten up your day, too. And all the warm compliments you'll get from the residents will give you a total ego boost.

Your Own Recycling Drive

Recommended if: you're a good organizer, you like to take charge, and the sight of a Gatorade bottle on the top of a trash can makes you sad.
What you'll be doing: If there's no recycling program at your school or another community spot, you'll be setting up recycling bins, spreading the message, and bringing the goods to a recycling center - or spending a couple afternoons going door to door. You can also organize a cell phone, computer or battery recycling drive. Check with your community on what can be recycled and where you can drop things off.
Why you'll like it: You'll get to meet people and get major props from your community. And unlike other volunteer opportunities, you'll get to be your own boss.

Habitat for Humanity

Recommended if: you love being outdoors and don't mind a little physical labor.
What you'll be doing: Helping to build or rehabilitate a house for a family in need, either in your community or far away. Check Habitat's website to see what projects they need your help with.
Why you'll like it: You'll work closely with interesting people and get great exercise while you're at it. And the feeling of accomplishment when your project's completed is out of this world.

The Museum

Recommended if: You love your town, or there's a local museum you're already fan of.
What you'll be doing: Anything from helping set up exhibits to office work to crowd control. Read more here to find out how to get started and what it'll be like.
Why you'll like it: As a thank-you, you'll probably get free passes or other perks. Plus, it's fun to go "behind the scenes" at a local spot and see how things operate.

A Political Campaign

Recommended if: you're ready to think a little bigger than student council.
What you'll be doing: Making phone calls, stuffing envelopes or going door to door passing out literature.
Why you'll like it: If you've got political aspirations, or you just want to see what all the fuss is about, this is the best way to see first-hand how it all happens. Plus, you'll make great connections for opportunities (both paid and unpaid) down the road.
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