Volunteering for Kids

Volunteer Programs in Memphis for Teens

Healthcare Related Volunteering

Teens can help out through Volunteer Services at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. A variety of volunteers are needed, including beverage cart volunteers, child life volunteers and food services volunteers. Methodist Healthcare has a "Summer VolunTeen" program for kids 15 to 17, where your teen can help by escorting patients or by greeting patients coming into the hospital. Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center needs teen volunteers during the summer to do things like help with equipment and keep young patients calm. Baptist Memorial Health Care has volunteer opportunities available for teens that include cafeteria greeter, information volunteer, magazine cart volunteer and patient activities volunteer.

Zoo or Museum Volunteers

Teens can help out at the Memphis Zoo. Types of volunteers include general volunteers who help with various tasks around the zoo and special event volunteers that work seasonal exhibits and during special zoo events. Volunteers are also needed at The Children's Museum of Memphis. Teens 16 and older can be a birthday party assistant, office helper, part of the clean up crew or a gallery assistant.

YMCA and Library Volunteer Work

At the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South, your teen can volunteer to be a tutor for kids in 4th through 9th grade or he can help to prepare and deliver meals and snacks for events like family fun nights, birthday parties and graduations. Alternatively, your teen could volunteer some of his extra time at one of the Memphis area libraries. The Collierville Burch library needs volunteers ages 12 to 18 to help with the summer reading program. The Memphis Public Library branches each rely on volunteers to help at the welcome desk, assist the librarian and to work during summer programs.

Other Opportunities to Volunteer

Main Street Collierville relies on volunteers to help run annual events and activities, such as the Easter egg hunt, Treat on the Square, Christmas in Collierville and Sunset on the Square Concert Series. Teens can help at any of these events. Volunteer Mid-South has a Mid-South Teen Volunteer program for teens 13 to 17 years of age. Your teen can join this program to be matched up with appropriate volunteer work throughout the year. During the summer, teens can attend the Memphis TEEN Volunteers Summer Fair, to meet with various agencies that need volunteers and find volunteer work that most interests them.

How Can Parents Help Children Understand Poverty?

Show Interest

According to BabyCenter.com, children are influenced by parental attitudes towards poverty, and that parents who take an interest in helping poor people inspire their children to do so, too. It's also helpful to explain why you do certain things, so if you would rather give a homeless man a sandwich rather than money, explain to your child that sometimes people spend money on the wrong things, but by giving a sandwich you are helping the man feel less hungry.


To help children understand the impact of poverty, you could offer some statistics about poverty. According to The World Bank, 1.4 billion people in the developing world were living on less than $1.25 a day in 2005. Older children might understand these numbers, but younger children may understand poverty better with picture books from the library. If younger children are anxious poverty might happen to them or that their family might become homeless, reassure them. You can also mention famous people your child might know, such as Oprah Winfrey, who have overcome poverty to become successful.


Children often want to do something about poverty themselves. While in some cases this may not be appropriate, such as asking if a homeless man can come and live with the family, there are still lots of other ways to help those less fortunate. Healthychildren.org suggests a family can forgo a weekly pizza night and donate the saved money to a charity the children support. The non-profit charity guide Charity Navigator recommends making food parcels with your child to donate to a food bank. You could also help your child to pick out a toy in a store for a local shelter, children's hospital or toy bank.


Volunteering is an ideal way for children to experience and learn about poverty first hand, as well as a way to learn compassion and life experience. KidsHealth recommends that families talk about where they would like to volunteer together, such as serving food at a local homeless shelter. Kids will learn about poverty through hands-on activities, as well as being inspired from seeing their parents help poor people. While some volunteer organizations may not allow children younger than 12, Charity Navigator says there are lots of volunteering opportunities for kids of all ages if you ask around your community.

Things for Teenagers to Do


According to a 2012 survey published by DoSomething.org, teens who volunteer are happier, do better in school and feel more involved in their communities than teens who don't. In addition, volunteering can open doors in the form of scholarships and practical work experience. In a separate survey published in 2008, researchers at Do Something talked with the admissions officers at top colleges across the country and asked them whether volunteer service influenced college acceptance. Results indicated it was a strong factor, coming in fourth behind grade point average, tests scores and extracurricular activities.

Become a Mentor

Every neighborhood has that one child who needs a friend. Although teens are technically too young to volunteer in the Big Brother/Big Sister program, that doesn't mean they can't help a neighbor in need. Mentoring encompasses a spectrum of activities: assisting the child next door with his homework, helping an older family member hone his computer skills or lending a receptive ear to a younger sibling. Mentoring can be as gratifying for the teen who mentors as it is to the person he helps.

Get a Part-time Job

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 14 is the minimum age for a teen to legally begin working in the U.S., but the types of jobs for this age group are limited to informal employment, including babysitting or helping with chores around the neighborhood. Formal employment opportunities start at age 16, with the options typically consisting of food service or retail-related occupations. Teens with good grades might try applying for tutoring positions, while those with computer skills might advertise to help those without such skills.

Develop a Hobby

Most teenagers have activities they enjoy doing in their free time such as playing video games, social networking or blogging. Downtime is the perfect time to develop that hobby into a skill. By researching all the information he can find on his particular interest, a teen can become an expert in the field. Becoming well-versed on some hobbies, especially those that require Internet and networking skills, can help a teen brighten his future job opportunities.

Ways That Teens Can Learn Philanthropy

Important Questions

As a teenager explores getting involved in philanthropic activities, encourage her to answer some personal questions about her interests, goals, skills and passions to narrow the options and find a philanthropic cause that will have relevance and personal meaning to her, advises The Sacramento Bee Media-In Education website. Selecting a cause or a service for which your teen has passion, can make the lessons and experience in philanthropy more meaningful.

Community Service

Turning a teen’s focus to local needs gives the teen an opportunity to return a debt of service to his own personal community, notes the School Family website. Schools often make a community service project a compulsory part of the student academic requirements to teach important lessons about serving others for the good of the community. Ideas for community service projects include volunteering services to improve public areas of a community, such as parks or green spaces, and organizing a service project to serve local citizens such as a food drive or a neighborhood recycling program.


A teenager with some spare time can make a significant difference if he chooses to volunteer. Volunteering can happen at the local level by serving at a senior citizen center, an animal shelter or a food pantry. Volunteering is also needed at the national level, enabling a teenager to make a philanthropic difference to people living in other communities. For example, a teenager could volunteer assistance to those in the military, shipping packages or even just writing letters. An organization such as Habitat for Humanity has nationwide chapters that build homes for the need. Your teen could find one locally or even in a different state and organize a trip for himself and other teen volunteers to help build homes.

Fundraising and Donations

Fundraising can be an effective means of philanthropy for a willing and energetic teenager. After choosing a nonprofit cause to champion, your teenager can begin raising money to benefit the organization. Fundraising activities might include selling items, or organizing a car wash, bake sale, a run/walk with pledges or a community rummage sale. If your teen has a part-time job, he can make his own monetary donations to a cause, which is likely to give him a sense of pride as he is putting his money toward helping others.

Service Projects for a Teenager

Feeding the Hungry

Teens typically have a lot of opportunities to support the hungry in their communities. Most food banks and shelters are always accepting volunteers to help stock shelves and serve food. Some communities also use volunteers to deliver food to the sick or shut-ins who can't afford groceries. Or, your teen could take a more proactive approach and start a food drive, collecting canned goods at school, from your extended family and the from the entire community.

Help Disadvantaged Kids

Ask your teenager if she could imagine having to go to school in the winter with no coat, or not having the school supplies she needs. She can do her part to help kids in just these situations by collecting winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves through a winter clothing drive. She can also plan a book bag-stuffing party where she and her friends fill book bags with donated school supplies, such as notebooks, folders and pencils.

Building Homes and More

Your teen can help build homes for families who desperately need the help, by volunteering with a home-building organization, such as Habitat for Humanity. Seeing a family enter a home that your teen helped to build can be a truly rewarding experience. Some schools also offer volunteer service trips during spring break to countries, such as Mexico or Guatemala, where teens help to build modest homes for families. Your teen could also help to fix up a local community center that could use a fresh coat of paint, or get a local company to donate new sports equipment for the center.

Environmental Service

If your teen is concerned about the environment, she can work on an environmental type of service project. For example, your teen and her friends could have a fundraiser to raise funds to clean up a local lake. Or, they might purchase and decorate canvas shopping bags -- and then hand them out for free to encourage others to stop using plastic bags. Another idea is to organize a trash pick-up day, where teen volunteers pick up trash at a local park.

How to Collect Donations for Needy Children

Determine for whom you are collecting donations. For example, you might collect donations for a specific needy family in your area. Or, you might want to find an established charity or organization that will accept donations for the distribution to needy children in your area. This might be a local shelter or branches of the Salvation Army, or a government agency such as the Department of Human Services. If this is the case, contact that charity or organization to determine if they have any specific needs or if they have specific guidelines for accepting donations.

Decide what types of donations you will accept. Having a wide focus -- collecting too many different things -- can make it complicated and difficult to set a goal for the donations. For example, you can choose to organize a toy drive or collect baby items or baby foods. You can also expand the project by accepting things like canned or dry foods, which will benefit older kids.

Set your goals and see if you need back up. For example, getting your local church, school or community center involved might make it easier to get donations because they can help spread the word and provide a sense of legitimacy to the project. You can also set up an informal group of parents or friends to help you collect donations.

Print flyers to distribute around the neighborhood. Make sure you specify what kinds of donations you're accepting and don't forget to mention that the collection is for needy children -- and to whom the donations are going. This will help people understand the goal and the limits -- what should they donate and what's not acceptable -- of the project. Also, list the places where individuals can drop off their donations. If you're conducting a collection through a school or through a specific group -- such as among a group of friends -- you can print a more informal letter to distribute.

Set collection boxes at predetermined points so people can drop off their donations. If you're collecting a number of things -- such as toys and baby items -- you can set up several boxes to help better organize the project. Make sure the flyer lists the donation locations.

Volunteer Programs for Teenagers in Yuba City, California

City of Yuba City

Yuba City’s government seat welcomes teenage volunteers in many different areas, building a strong partnership between city workers and the community. Whatever skills your teenager possesses, chances are she will find a niche volunteering with the city. Introduce her to an office environment, performing volunteer data entry, mass mailings or basic accounting. Put her computer skills to work troubleshooting software programs or helping teach a beginner computer class. Tap into her athletic ability coaching a youth sport or get her outdoors planting and maintaining flowers and shrubs.

Rideout Health

If your teen dreams about entering some phase of the medical field, Rideout Health may help her decide which area to pursue. The Junior Volunteer Program, in existence since 1959, gives teenagers hands-on experience in a medical environment. Fremont Medical Center Auxiliary starts teens working in the gift shop, running station errands and delivering flowers to patients. If working with seniors is your teen’s specialty, skilled nursing, assisted living and dementia facilities provide an excellent opportunity to work with older adults. Whether she is helping with recreational activities and field trips or spending time with a senior, your teen will have multiple chances to put her empathy skills to work.

Habitat for Humanity

Yuba City’s branch of Habitat for Humanity dates back to 1993 and is committed to helping low income families build their own home using donated materials and labor. As long as your teen is 16, she can volunteer. Not only do volunteers learn the ins and outs of the construction trade, the satisfaction gleaned from watching a house built from scratch is beyond measure. Whether your teenager wants to work a day, a month, labor through summer vacation or sign up for a specific task, the online construction calendar makes it easy to work whatever days will fit into your teen’s busy schedule.

Red Cross

What natural disaster hasn’t occurred without the Red Cross being one of the first organizations on the scene? Whether your teen wants to be personally prepared in the event of an emergency or has the compassion to help others in tragic situations, volunteering for the Red Cross trains her in the essentials of disaster relief. Not only can your teenager sign up to volunteer in Youth Engagement Services, she may want to put her leadership skills to the test starting a Red Cross Club at her high school. Red Cross Clubs not only perform projects helping their own school, but their community and the world as well.

Children's Activities for Learning Care & Compassion

Compassion for the Earth

Palmatier suggests finding opportunities to involve your family in community cleanup days. Check with your city's Chamber of Commerce or visit the website Keep America Beautiful and search for ways your family can be involved in events that promote recycling, encourage planting of new trees and flowers or beautifying parks. Teach your child about reusing materials at home to help take care of the environment by creating and tending to your own compost pile.

Compassion for the Elderly

Call the activities director of a nursing home to inquire about scheduling a time for your little one to accompany you on a visit. According to the Legacy Project, an ongoing series of visits to nursing home residents allows your child and the elderly residents to effectively develop a connection. Your child might wish to bring along a picture or gift for the residents he visits or a game to play with them. Your child might initially be shy, but set the tone by making conversation and helping to build up his level of comfort and confidence as he observes you interacting with the residents.

Compassion for Animals

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, you can encourage empathy in your child by volunteering together at an animal shelter. Some shelters are in search of foster families to care for animals who need a temporary break from the animal shelter. Your little one might also enjoy spending volunteer hours on site, providing shelter animals with love and care by taking them for walks or petting and cuddling them.

Compassion for the Needy

According to Compassion International, an advocacy ministry for children in poverty, 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day. The ministry suggests taking the Two Dollar Dinner Challenge by taking your child and $2 to the grocery store to buy a meal to serve your family for dinner. After your family enjoys dinner together, discuss the meal with your child. Did he have difficulty finding items that were less than $2? Does he think the meal met his nutritional needs? Does he feel full?