In the upcoming weeks, many of us will find ourselves surrounded with family, friends, warm shelter, and copious amounts of delicious food, and many other people in our communities will not. With joyful spirits and cards that remind us to show “goodwill towards men,” the holiday season is a time of year that people feel moved to serve those in the community who need kindness and support.
At tnAchieves, we know that encouraging a sense of altruism in our students throughout the year is essential for both their character and our surrounding communities. If you’re wondering why we require our students to complete eight hours of community service, here are just a few of reasons:
Community service changes community members and students.
As much as lives in the community are positively impacted from the work that students do through community service, students lives are changed as well. Students become more aware of issues and needs of the community while also gaining a confidence boost. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, community service is related to decreased depression and illness.
Students gain professional experience
Whether students are job shadowing or volunteering their time at a non-profit organization, they’re learning professional skills and habits that will benefit them in the future. Employers are always on the lookout for job candidates with excellent “soft skills,” such as teamwork, communication, problem solving and adaptability. When completing community service, students learn these skills by putting others’ needs first and using the tools and skills to successfully do so. After completing community service, students can boost their resume with the problem solving and customer service skills they’ve learned through serving others.
Students connect to the community
Often through community service, students connect with causes and people that they discover they’re passionate about helping. If not, then that’s fine too, because they are still connecting with the community. Even if the first few community service opportunities students participate in aren’t for them, they’ve still met one more person who needed their help, one more supervisor who can recommend them for future opportunities, and one more organization in their community they impacted for eight hours.
Community service now encourages altruism in the future.
Once students discover the benefits of community service, or a need in the community they’re passionate about filling, they will be more likely to continue participating in community service in the future. A study discussed in the New York Times, showed that students who participated in community service in high school were more likely to continue being active in community service as adults. With as much as tnAchieves cares about our students, we hope that by completing their required community service they’re learning to care about the community they live in as well.
tnAchieves students are changing Tennessee!
If you still aren’t convinced that community service benefits students, then we have the numbers to prove that it’s changing communities across Tennessee. So far, the tnAchieves class of 2015 has completed 387,156 hours of community service during their time in the tnAchieves program, and students in the 2016 class have completed 196,342 hours.
Volunteering in the community around the holidays not only leaves people feeling warm and fuzzy (probably from the Santa outfits), but there is an abundance of service opportunities this time of year. If you’re a student looking to get an early start on your community service, or you just want to be more involved in your community, here are some holiday opportunities to consider.
- Angel Tree Program- For the next few weeks, the Angel Tree Program needs volunteers to serve as Mall Booth Workers, Warehouse Workers, and to distribute gifts to Angel Tree Families.
- Red Kettle Bell Ringers- Volunteers are needed to collect donations and bring awareness to poverty in surrounding counties.
- Toys for Tots is in need of volunteers to perform warehouse duties such as unloading boxes, and sorting and packing toys. They also need volunteers to pick-up and drop-off toys, as well as pass toys out to families.
Some other places to consider seeking holiday community service include:
- Local churches
- Local homeless shelters and soup kitchens
- Local food pantries
- Local schools
- Local animal shelters
- Local nursing homes/assisted living homes
- Your higher education institution
And don’t forget to check the tnAchieves website for community service opportunities in your county!
Whichever community service opportunity you choose to participate in around the holidays, don’t just do it because you are required to, do it because you want to. Sometimes, the best gifts aren’t the ones you can wrap. So this holiday season, tnAchieves encourages you to give the gift of time to your community.