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Blake Kernen Headshot

The Case for Community Service

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Last week, I was asked to tell the student body at my school why I do community service and why they should also. The idea here, I was told, was to make it sound appealing, and hopefully more students will do it next year with me.

I didn't have to rack my brain too much. I've been doing some sort of volunteer work for as long as I can remember. I can think of dozens of reasons why I do community service or volunteer work, the biggest being that it helps others, and I can't think of any reasons why I wouldn't. So here are five reasons why a person should get involved with community service or volunteer work:

1. You would be great at it. You really would. A lot of people don't get involved in volunteering because they say they aren't qualified to do anything. They think they are lacking the skills. The great news is that you don't need any qualifications other than being a person who wants to do community service. If you're willing, you're able. There are currently more than 64 million people in America doing volunteer work through organizations.

2. It's fun and it's free. The fun part is that you will do something that truly
interests you. Maybe animals are your thing, then volunteer at an animal shelter, or cooking, then head to your local soup kitchen. It can be anything -- even helping out your neighbors with errands that they can't do on their own. Identify what you really like to do, and there's a pretty good chance that some organization associated with your interests is going to want your help. And if practicing your cooking skills at a soup kitchen is what you want to do, or learning how to bathe a ferret at an animal shelter (yes, I've done this), you can get all the practice you want for free.

3. You become connected to your community. Volunteering in your community guarantees that you are going to meet tons of people that live close to you. People who share your passions and your interests. I don't go to school in my town so my local volunteer work helps me stay connected to my community and my neighborhood.

4. You've got the time. You may think that you don't because sports, school, friends, family, work and even the Internet take up a lot of time, but you really do have the time. My parents always say that busy people always have time to do more, and it's true. Community service doesn't need to take up all your time, and take a family member or a friend with you. You'll have fun doing it together, and twice the amount of community service work will get done in the same amount of time.

5. People and organizations need your help. Last year, Americans volunteered about 8 billion hours, which has an economic value of about $171 billion. This is a huge cost-saver and in some cases, lifesaver, for organizations and people that rely on volunteers to get the job done. Just look at the recent events in Oklahoma -- people across America are pulling together to help that area rebuild after the devastating tornadoes. Closer to home, it could even be your neighbor who needs your help for some babysitting time so she can get out of the house and go on a job interview. Your help has a wide reaching impact, on her, her family and even the economy.

Volunteering can have an enormous impact on the volunteer also. Research shows that students who volunteer have improved reading, math, science and history scores. Also, students who volunteer are 19 percent more likely to graduate from college than those that don't.

Who knows if more students at my school will sign up to do community service next year -- it may not be for everybody. But until you try you'll never know. Why not give it a go?

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