By Guest Blogger Leslie Isakoff

With the school year in full force, finding time to squeeze in required service hours can be tough. Soccer practice, trumpet lessons, Scout meetings, youth group—how can your family possibly fit in one more thing? Breathe easy and check out these ideas for making it all work:

  • Find activities that are a natural extension of your family’s schedule. Families donate a bag of nonperishable food every month through A Simple Gesture. They say, it’s a logical next step to volunteer to pick up the bags from other households and earn service hours. Learn how the program works here.
  • Tap into causes that are important to your family. Many students are concerned about the environment; learning that food waste makes up 20% of the contents of our landfills. Additionally, 40% of food in the U.S. is wasted can really spur them into action. While, they can’t earn service hours for cutting food waste in their own homes (though they will earn your gratitude), teenagers can get involved as RePurpose food recovery volunteers. As a food recovery volunteer they’ll be assigned a local business to pick up excess perishable food and a local nonprofit to deliver the food to. However, students must be accompanied by a parent; food recovery pickups happen during weekends and sometimes in the evening, too. Learn more here.
  • No driver? No worries. Since students who don’t drive have to rely on others to pick them up and drop them off, these kids may struggle to get enough service hours. With this in mind, A Simple Gesture offers door hangers that students can distribute in their neighborhood, spreading the word about our program. In turn, it provides an easy way to squeeze in service hours between lacrosse practice and chorus rehearsal.
  • Look for causes that match the theme of your child’s college application. Colleges want to see that your child cares deeply about a subject, topic, or issue. Given that, volunteering with A Simple Gesture easily ties into nutrition, health and wellness, and education, and RePurpose food recovery ties into those topics plus environmental causes as well. Hence, with service hours from organizations like these, your child can show that their volunteer work matches their broader interests. Plus, watch for scholarship opportunities linked to these causes as well.
  • Service learning can be fun. Many service learning tasks are hard work, but they can be fun as well. For example, students who volunteer with A Simple Gesture recently earned service hours for handing out candy and educational flyers at a parade!

A Simple Gesture works to keep the shelves stocked at local food pantries. To do this, families sign up to fill one of our green reusable grocery bags every month or every other month (your choice). Then on the pickup day, they place their bag on their front porch. Next, volunteers pick up the bags and deliver them to a local pantry. Plus, they leave an empty bag for the next pickup. In addition, students earn service hours for helping to pick up bags, sorting food at local food pantries, representing A Simple Gesture at local events, or distributing informational door hangers in their neighborhood. If you’re in Guilford County, learn more here. If you’re in Alamance County, learn more here.

Our RePurpose food recovery program picks up excess perishable food from local businesses, restaurants, and schools and delivers it to nonprofits that can use it quickly for community or client meals. Of course, students earn service hours for doing food recovery pickups and deliveries (accompanied by a parent). The program is in Guilford County only. Learn more here.

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