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Summer is in full swing and while students start planning summer vacations, they should also carve out time throughout the summer to give back to their community. Many people think of volunteering during the busy holiday season or at year end, but organizations need help all year long. Summer is a great time for students to give back when they have a little down time! 


Your personal time spent volunteering should be both enjoyable and rewarding. Personally, I love both animals and the outdoors, which is why I’ve spent more than 100 combined hours volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, Operation Kindness and the Dallas Arboretum. No matter how hectic your schedule is or what your interests are, there will always be an organization that needs a willing student to lend a hand.


As I head into my senior year at Dallas Lutheran, I wanted to spend my last full summer in Dallas taking time to give back to my local community. I recently volunteered at Operation Kindness and helped with walking the dogs. I also plan on volunteering at the North Texas Food Bank and Ronald McDonald House for a few weeks this summer.


Here are a few tips to help you find the best opportunity this summer to suit your needs.


  • Seek opportunities that align with your interests.  Are you an all-star ball player with a love of the game? Volunteer at a sports camp or with your local Little League district over the summer. Are you a member of your school’s environmental or 4-H club? Consider volunteering at a local community garden. Have a soft spot for animals? Spend your summer giving back at the zoo or one of the many local non-profit animal rescue organizations. It doesn’t matter what you’re passionate about, there are ways to share that passion with others through volunteering.

  • Narrow your opportunities down by the amount of time you have to give. If you have nothing but time this summer you might consider volunteering as a camp counselor or going on a mission trip with your church. If you have limited time to give back because you have to babysit a sibling or have a job, look for an opportunity with flexible hours. Places with flexible hours include food pantries, animal rescue groups, senior centers, Habitat for Humanity and child mentoring programs.

  • Create your own opportunity. If you’d rather take the reins and lead the charge, consider organizing an opportunity for others to give back within your community. You can start a book club and help kids with their summer reading; get your buddies together and offer free lawn service/house cleaning to the elderly, sick or those in need in your own neighborhood; or start a drive and set up drop off locations where people can donate items (canned food, books/toys, pet products or clothes) that you can collect and donate to the charity of your choice.


If you’re looking for ways to give back to the community, organizations like Volunteer Match and the Volunteer Center of North Texas are great places to find nearby non-profits in need of helpful volunteers.


No matter how much time you dedicate to volunteering this summer, just remember – every little bit helps!


Cody Patterson

Senior Class of 2016 - Dallas Lutheran

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