12/07/2012 09:32 am ET Updated Feb 06, 2013

7 Ways Teens Can Give Back During the Holidays

Winter break is a great time for teens to volunteer and find ways to get involved and to give back to their communities. We all know there are huge benefits for teens that volunteer. One of the most rewarding is that volunteer service provides teens the opportunity to create positive change and make an impact, often with immediate results. Volunteering also gives you the opportunity to gain an awareness and understanding about the challenging issues and concerns facing your communities while gaining valuable skills. Unfortunately, in this difficult economy, it is tough for teens to find employment opportunities for those few weeks in December and January. Community service allows for youth to gain valuable skills, network and connect with their community along with building a working resume and obtaining contacts for future references.

With increased budget cutbacks, more volunteers and funds are needed to deliver the valuable services and programs to meet the needs of the community. Even just a few hours a week can make an impact. Yet, many non-profit organizations and agencies have minimum age restrictions of 18 to volunteering on-site due to security, safety and/or liability concerns. So
how can college, high school and middle school students get involved and find ways to volunteer in their communities over the winter holiday break?

1. Organize a book drive for a local shelter or create a children's library for a health clinic.

2. From the comfort of your own couch, offer to create or update a Facebook page and Twitter site for a local non-profit.

3. Make both your parents and the future recipients of your outgrown clothing and shoes happy by cleaning out your closets and encouraging your peers to do the same. Find an organization in your community that helps homeless teens and/or donate the items to Goodwill.

4. Spend time with senior citizens in retirement homes or at a VA Hospital playing your instrument, teaching basic PC or texting skills, playing card games or even bringing along your pet and just spending time visiting the elderly.

5. Host a Diaper Drive and or a Personal Products Drive (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, razors toothbrush) for area shelters.

6. Collect PG and G-rated movies that you and your neighbors no longer view to donate to a local children's hospital or pediatric floor of a local hospital.

7. Find an organization in your community to volunteer at

Want more ideas? Log on to and Youth Services of America for great tips and suggestions on service projects.