The US Department of Labor defines Labor Day as “a creation of the labor movement, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
The Importance of this Old-Fashioned American Value: Volunteer Service
Incorporating community service into your children’s lives has many benefits, particularly for older students planning to attend college or move into an apprenticeship or internship. Volunteer hours are an added bonus on any high school transcript and common practice in today’s college application process. The fact that your student participated in community service tells university administrators that they are involved in the world in which they live and that they desire to improve the lives of those around them.
Teaching children to give their time and money for the support and benefit of others is a lesson more valuable than any math problem or research paper. So the question for many is this: How do you incorporate community service into your lives? You could add it to the schedule or you could wing it and hope for the best. You could even plan for it monthly and then add in the opportunities that come along. Yes, you could even do all of these options!
Volunteer opportunities are all around you, if you just know where to look. National organizations like Operation Christmas Child, the March of Dimes, National Right to Life, and the Red Cross have local chapters looking for assistance with donation collection, office work like filing or answering and making phone calls, as well as event planning or promotion. Even if there isn’t an immediate need, familiarizing yourself with the organization and preparing for the company to have availability is a valuable asset to any nonprofit organization.
State and local organizations are equally welcoming of volunteers, especially if the student has a heart for service and understands the organization’s mission. Volunteering at the local food pantry, hosting a garage sale with your local church to raise money for missions, or heading up a diaper drive for the Pregnancy Resource Center are all examples of local opportunities for service.
How-to-Guide: Making Volunteer Service a Reality in Your Family
Follow the simple steps below to integrate into a volunteer opportunity in your area.
- Determine your purpose. Are you looking for a place to fill your servant’s heart or are you more interested in the reflection on your job application or high school transcript? Consider the end goal and then find an organization that fits the bill. Serving at the local food pantry or as a summer counselor at your church youth camp will fill a valuable need and reflect well for a student planning to work in the ministry, education or social work field. Serving with Texas Right to Life could provide beneficial experience for a career in the political arena or entrance to law school.
- Make contact and ask about volunteer opportunities. Many times, an organization will have procedures for working with volunteers. There are often specific jobs designated for such a purpose. Take your students by the main office and let them explain that they would like to serve and why they chose their business or association with which to volunteer. Researching the activity of the group and practicing what they will say beforehand will instill confidence in your student and tell the organization that they did their homework and are serious about serving.
- Commit and follow through. Organizations, particularly nonprofits, depend on volunteers to do large amounts of work, do it well and do it with a cheerful heart. By committing to serve, you agree to a standard of excellence, a time frame to complete your work and a particular set of responsibilities. Know the expectations before you agree, so you can fulfill your commitment and bless the organization.
- Ask for validation of your hours. If you are keeping a written record of service hours, asking for a letter or confirmation of the number of hours you served is an acceptable practice. A simple log, such as the one offered by Homeschool-Life.com, provides an easy solution to record keeping. After you have completed your service, fill in the information and ask your supervisor to review and sign your log. This keeps your supervisor from the burden of additional work and gives an additional layer of accountability to your student.
Did I mention that nonprofit organizations rely heavily on volunteers? I thought I did! The Texas Home School Coalition is no different. Did you know that your student has the freedom to take advantage of service opportunities on a weekday because of the years of work spent on your behalf by THSC? THSC has been vigilant in the fight to help Texas families keep their right to teach their children.
Want to help further expand our efforts? We’d love to have you join us in the fight to keep your freedom. Consider these fantastic volunteer opportunities, complete with a perfect blend of learning and service.
- THSC Rangers Program – Serve with boots on the ground through the election cycle, voter registration process and more unique aspects of the political process. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Donate to the Gala Silent Auction – It takes an army to pull off a successful event. You and your children can serve THSC by collecting items for this year’s silent auction. No item is too small! Art supplies like oil paints and paint brushes fit nicely in a themed art basket. Gift cards from local businesses, particularly ones that have online stores or are found statewide, can be added to several kinds of themed baskets. Larger items like paintings, home goods, jewelry or sports and hunting equipment are all welcome additions. Earn service hours for your efforts and support THSC at the same time. For more information on the silent auction, email email@example.com.
As you can see, embracing and celebrating the concept of labor isn’t isolated to the Labor Day holiday. Add volunteer service to the heart of your youngsters while you can reap the rewards together and you will create for them a lifetime of serving others.
To learn more about THSC’s efforts to preserve your freedom to serve or to find out more about how you can join the fight, see the THSC website.