As a student you have so many priorities — your studies, extracurricular activities, social life and hobbies. But as the season of giving approaches, you might be thinking about contributing something more — and wondering if there are ways for you to really make a difference in your community.
Globally, about 1 billion people choose to put their time, money or efforts into volunteering with 60% of young people aged 16-25 in the UK having volunteered over the past year. You can add to that number by reflecting on what you can do for your community and putting your resources to good use.
Here are a few impactful ideas for school and university students to make a difference during the season of giving.
1. Volunteer in Your Local Community
An easy way to get stuck into the season of giving is by volunteering in your local community. Take part in one of the 10 river, beach or trail cleanups happening throughout the U.K., the longest ever cleanup now in its 27th year. You could also volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or head to the local animal shelter to offer some love to furry friends.
2. Volunteer Online
Once COVID-19 swept across the globe, it became more challenging to make a difference in person. If you are an immunocompromised student or are taking extra caution during the holiday season, you can volunteer online. Charities and organisations may need volunteers to work the digital side of things this year. If you have digital skills, like social media, put them to use for a local charity. Not only does this help you give back, but it’s also an opportunity to build on your skills and get valuable experience to add to your CV.
3. Make Very Small Donations
You may have a part-time job or might be trying to pay for your university tuition and degree, which can make donating funds difficult as a student. But you don't have to make significant monetary contributions — focus on donating small amounts instead. Choose a local organisation that helps a cause you are passionate about, and sign up to give a few pounds a month. You could also volunteer on behalf of an organization or collect money as a fundraiser through a student group or club. Or next time you're in town why not spare £3 change from your Christmas shopping and buy a Big Issue, a scheme to support people living in poverty with employment. The point is you really don’t need to spend a lot, anything helps!
4. Spread Awareness
Chances are you're involved with social media. Use your browsing time to spread awareness for humanitarian organisations, charities and other companies trying to make a difference this holiday season. If you don’t have the time or resources to give directly, someone you know might. Share posts about fundraising efforts and places accepting donations or volunteers to help spread the word.
5. Become a Buddy
If you enjoy helping kids, getting involved in a buddy organization could be the perfect way to give back to your community. This allows you to pair with a disadvantaged student whom you can tutor or spend time with on occasion, usually once per week. You might even help a student your own age. For example, you can be part of Lancaster University’s Buddy Programme, which allows you to pair with an international student to help lessen the culture shock. Check with your school or university for a similar programme.
The final volunteering and community service idea for students is to fundraise for a specific cause this season. Whether you shovel snow around your neighbourhood for some cash, start an online fundraising campaign or sell some of your old clothes, you can use the money you earn to donate to a cause of your choice. There are plenty of fundraising opportunities, so do your research and gather friends to join your cause and make a difference.
Ways for University and School Students to Make a Difference During the Giving Season
There are so many ways for students to make a difference this holiday season. Choose a volunteer effort you can put your heart into, and watch how it brings joy into your life and others’.
Ginger Abbot is an education and learning writer, as well as the managing editor of Classrooms, a college and university site for students. Read more of her work on her author page.
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