- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 21, 2002

Many organized service programs have the summer's volunteers in place, but it is not too late for teenagers to do something to help others. Some ideas include:

•Volunteer as a family. Many one-time events such as a playground cleanup or a 10K race to benefit a charity need workers. Even children around age 10 or 12 can hand out cups of water or help bag litter.

•Help others in the neighborhood. Urge teenagers to see if an elderly neighbor needs his lawn mowed or if a busy mother needs a mother's helper for a few hours. These could turn in to paid positions.

•Check organizations such as KidsCare (www.kidscare.org) or Greater DC Cares (www.dc-cares.org) to find service projects that want teenagers or to get ideas on how to start a service project.

•Ask at your local church or synagogue. Many religious organizations have Vacation Bible School or day camps that could use teenagers as junior counselors.

•Help older children identify a passion by finding a cause they care about. Anne Hoover, executive director of the nonprofit Community Partnerships With Youth, advises to make a mission statement with the teenager defining what he cares about. It may help to provide teens with a list of causes to identify their interests.

Once children find a cause they care deeply about, it is easier to find local organizations that might need their help.

•Teenagers may feel pressure if you try to steer them to a particular activity, says Susan Crites Price, author of "The Giving Family: Raising Our Children to Help Others." They might feel empowered, however, to choose their own project.

Try this checklist to further narrow a teenager's interest:

•What are your hobbies or skills? Would any of them help in a volunteer job?

•Would you like to learn any new skills?

•Why do you want to be a volunteer?

•Do you want a long-term or short-term project?

•When do you want to volunteer: Days or nights?

•Do you enjoy working one-to-one, such as tutoring, or would you prefer a group activity?

•Do you like working inside or outside?


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