Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Volunteering for College Applications – and for Life

Most high school students applying to college know that volunteering activities are important to have on their resumes. Yet, as with everything else on a good resume, there’s volunteering and there’s volunteering.

It’s easy, for example, to volunteer to help with a food collection drive sponsored by your high school. Any student can do that simply by signing up and following through.

Yet, for the other kind of volunteering, what about coming up with a volunteer project yourself that demonstrates initiative, creativity and results?

As described in my post today at www.dogooderscrooge.blogspot.com, I’ve just returned from the Philadelphia wedding of my nephew. It was a lovely, lovely wedding, and I cried as the bride and groom stood under the chupah. Yet I also cried much later in the evening – while a fantastic band played – when I opened the wedding guest gift:

Each guest received a gift certificate for $18 (in Hebrew 18 represents chai – life) to www.donorschoose.org – a nonprofit website where “public school teachers submit proposals for materials or experiences their students need to learn.” And then donations bring these dreams to life.

At the wedding I talked to my nephew about the gift certificates. He said he and his bride-to-be had been thinking of giving each guest a $10 gift when they realized what they could do with a different kind of wedding guest gift.

This morning I went to www.donorschoose.org/gift to redeem my gift certificate. There were so many good projects from which to choose. And any of these projects could be the basis of initiating your own volunteer project.

Example of creating your own volunteer project

Let’s suppose you read the following project listed at www.donorschoose.org/gift

Pushing Our Way into Literacy: Book Carts For the Classroom

Last week was Teen Read Week. The media specialist and I created a book cart around the theme Get Active and visited 28 classrooms during the week. With each class, we did a book pass of books we thought would be high interest reads for the students and then allowed them to check out books. During the week, there was a 280% increase in the number of books checked out. We received an overwhelmingly positive response from the staff as well, who reported that for the first time their students were reading.

We would now like to purchase a number of carts to create themed book mobiles for teachers to check out. We know that reading comprehension is the most critical component of student education, and placing high interest reads into the hands of our kids is the key to developing that comprehension.

I need two book carts to enable me to provide high interest young adult reading materials to the students in my school. The cost of this proposal is $833, which includes shipping for any materials requested and fulfillment.

You could take this idea and brainstorm with friends, family, teachers or mentors how to adapt to your own community. Maybe you and three friends could make presentations in classrooms of your favorite books, and your enthusiasm could ignite the interest of students who normally don’t read books.

Or you and three friends could raise money to send to www.donorschoose.org to support this project. And you could offer to send a letter about books you enjoy to the project creator to share with the school’s students.

If you’re going to spend time volunteering – make that volunteer time truly count. Start a new volunteer project that shows your initiative, creativity and commitment.

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