This blog was written by Alex Wetzel, a former Intern Queen intern and our Penn State University Campus Ambassador. Follow her on Twitter at @alex_wetzel.
Over the course of your four years in college, it is more than likely that you will be given the opportunity to participate in volunteer work. If you haven’t already volunteered prior to college, this is the perfect opportunity to not only find yourself, but also to give back to your community. Even the littlest gestures such as donating to a toy drive, working a community bake sale or helping serve meals at a homeless shelter, positively impacts so many people’s lives in ways that cannot be measured. It is amazing what can be accomplished when people help other people. Although, there are many important reasons why students should volunteer, but below are the three main reasons why you shouldn’t let a volunteer opportunity pass you by.
1. Make an impact: Whether it is donating food to a family need in or a large amount of money to a charitable cause, no matter what the value of the item, one thing will always be the same – in the end it is the thought that counts. Your gesture, whether it is worth a little or a lot, will help benefit those who are in need in some way. You have the choice to make a change, and when you make a change you begin to see the positive impact you are making on society.
2. Acquire new skills: When you volunteer, you get to meet all different people from all walks of life. You meet people who are in need, and then you meet people just like yourself who are looking to do their part and give back. No matter what their circumstance, people are people. Network with those who organized the canned food drive and chat with those people who are just looking for a warm meal. In the end, you not only will expand your network of people you know, but your life will be forever changed by the stories that you hear. Secondly, you can polish your communication skills and begin to build leadership skills. By networking with people you are developing “people” skills to implement in any field. Also, you will see your leadership skills develop as you begin to volunteer more and take on more responsibility.
3. Personal development and self fulfillment: Don’t be fooled – just because you are in college and may financially not be able to donate items of value, that still doesn’t mean your time isn’t valuable. Spend an hour helping an organization run a blood drive, or donate an hour of your time at a local pet shelter helping animals in need. No matter what the job, in the end you are ultimately bettering yourself and your community. You will gain a better sense of personal development through volunteering. You will be able to better differentiate between your likes and dislikes and what makes you happy. Once you take a break from the everyday stresses of life that plague us all on a daily basis, such as homework, work, bills, etc., you will begin to see that it’s the little things in life that really count. Volunteering helps you to refocus and put things into perspective. Additionally, volunteering can sometimes be a challenge. It can challenge you to do things you have never done before and to step out of your comfort zone. Take these challenges, and use them to your advantage. Prove to yourself that no task is too small and overcome any obstacle that stands in your way of your goal – helping others. Volunteering also provides you with a sense of self-fulfillment. You will be a happier person knowing that you are doing going for your community. Knowing that you positively impacted people’s lives, will help you to become a more positive person in general.
Remember to always be grateful for what you have been given, because somewhere someone else in the world someone isn’t as fortunate as you may be. Give back and do you part. As Gandhi once said, “be the change you want to see in the world.”