THE BLOG
07/19/2013 12:13 pm ET Updated Sep 18, 2013

Teens: Find Your Passion in Volunteering This Summer!

Did you know in America alone, teens volunteer over 2.4 billion hours each year? My passion for volunteering first developed from doing service projects with my youth group in middle school.

Since then, I've had the opportunity to try a wide array of different activities. My favorite experience, so far, has been volunteering as a tutor. I love sharing my knowledge with others and watching them "get it"after struggling initially. I love being able to give anxious middle schoolers a reassuring and candid account of my own high school experience, remembering how nervous I felt when I was in their shoes. That spark in their eyes when I ask them what they want to be when they "grow up." The laughs. That first, hard­-earned "A" that they so eagerly pull out of their backpacks to show me. My own beaming smile.

And what did I give? A plain old hour of my time, one day of the week after school.

Sure, instead of tutoring, I could've been watching Big Bang Theory, napping, or doing my own homework. Often I had to refuse plans with friends, send "Sorry I won't be able to make it to Tuesday's meeting!" emails to the clubs I participate in, and run from school to school in pouring rain. But the rewarding feeling I received far outweigh any mild sacrifice I made. I am not a hero.

It's understandable that during the school year sometimes it's tempting to volunteer only for the sake of fulfilling National Honor Society requirements or community service hours. With the high stakes college admissions process looming over each high schooler -- myself included -- we are all simply trying to present ourselves in the best light possible. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to get lost in the "Will I get credit for this?" attitude. Bottom line is, we've all been there.

So now that it's summer, why volunteer?

I'm saying: Why, not?

I can't think of a better time than the summer to get involved in volunteering and activism. With no homework and the exception of jobs, family travels, or summer camps, our schedules have largely freed up. This is the time for us to explore and find the things we are truly passionate about.

Whether it's volunteering at a nursing home, food bank, environmental project, sports camp, nonprofit organization, or whatever it happens to be -- your volunteer efforts are always needed. There is always a cause, always something awaiting your passion -- and if you search -- you will find it. The world's issues are numerous and often daunting in scale, but that doesn't mean you can't be part of the solution. It's only more reason for you to get involved.

Through an internship at Givology, a nonprofit organization that funds education projects to benefit underprivileged students all over the world, this past year I've had the opportunity to learn and work alongside a team of truly amazing individuals. What's unique about Givologywhich happens to be the very first thing attracted me to the organization -- is that we are 100 percent volunteer-run.

Each member of the team balances a combination of fulltime jobs, school, travel, and personal interests while setting aside time to volunteer at Givology.

This week I reached out to our Core Team and pitched a simple question: "What has volunteering taught you?" Here are some of their inspiring responses!

Without volunteers, Givology wouldn't have been able to raise $346,999 to help over 2,800 students in 26 countries through 46 grassroots partnerships, reach out to 4,407 donors, or expand to 11 chapters globally.

It is a network of people who volunteer their time with kindness and compassion -- but most importantly -- a genuine heart.