The impact that volunteerism has on youth is remarkable. Did you know:

  • Youth that volunteer are twice as likely to volunteer in adulthood as opposed to those who did not volunteer when they were younger.
  • Those who volunteered as youth and whose parents also volunteered became the most generous adults in times when giving was needed.

Besides lending a hand to the community which improves the quality of life for all, what benefits can volunteerism have on youth?

  • Volunteerism helps children start to develop positive values such as compassion. By serving others, youth begin to think larger than themselves and their immediate surroundings.
  • Volunteerism can be a form of empowerment; youth will feel respected and valued for their contributions.
  • Being civically engaged can improve academic performance. Higher reported levels of academic success, graduation rates (19%!) and self-esteem come from youth who volunteer as opposed to those that don’t.
  • In adulthood, volunteers have a 27% higher odds of finding employment than non-volunteers. Specifically, 16-24 year olds who are not working or not in school have 5% higher odds.

Things to consider when choosing a volunteer activity for youth

  • Pick a volunteer activity that matches your child’s personality and interests so they have a positive and enjoyable volunteer experience. For example, a child with an artistic flair may enjoy painting with seniors at a retirement home.
  • Dedicate time before you volunteer to talk with your child about who you’re helping and why and then celebrate your achievement after!
  • Most importantly, age should be a strong consideration when looking for volunteer opportunities. Most non-profits won’t take children under the age of 16 (although this number ranges from 14-18) without a parent volunteering as well. This is not a reflection of youth maturity, but simply a liability most non-profits can’t afford to take. Your own schedule, time commitments, and willingness to volunteer are all important considerations!

Age Appropriate Youth Volunteer Ideas

Ages 0-5

  • Pick and bring flowers to elderly neighbors or nursing home.
  • Craft holiday cards and send them to veterans. This can be a great option if your child is shy or more reserved.
  • Look for opportunities that let children “tag along” with their parents. Community gardens are often okay with this.

Ages 6-10

  • Host a food drive.
  • Donate old toys, books, etc. to a shelter.
  • Help clean or paint a room for a local non-profit.

Ages 11-13

  • Be a good neighbor by helping an elderly or disabled neighbor with yard work.
  • Serve food at a shelter.
  • Help with cleaning and cuddle time at an animal shelter.

Ages 12-15

  • Tutor younger children in an area they excel in at school.
  • Assistant coach, referee, or be equipment manager for youth sports clubs.

Creating a culture that values volunteerism in your family is something that can help your children become confident change makers, connected to their community. Start them young with some of the ideas listed above!


Julie D Circle

This article is brought to you by United Way Volunteer Engagement Coordinator, Julie Page DiBiase.

Julie is a former nanny, and is passionate about the transformative role volunteering can have on youth.  

For more information about volunteering in Lane County or for help navigating volunteer opportunities available to youth, contact:


Julie Page DiBiase, United Way Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

(541) 741-6000