Red Cross Mad Libs: Volunteering is (adjective).

Youth Blogger: Hannah B. Junior at Bayport High School

“Volunteering is good for college.”

Creative, right? Truthfully though, that’s what went through my naïve freshman head as my friends and I signed up for my school’s Youth Service Learning (YSL) group my first year of high school.  The goal is to complete 160 hours of community service within a student’s 4 years of high school—it sounds like a lot.  Realistically 40 hours a year, isn’t too terrible especially considering there is no huge pressure to complete more than a few hours every few months.  Other than having to face our arduous but kind-hearted advisor, who can be relatively scary if you forget to “log your hours” or accidently forget about an event (Which we all know, happens), volunteering 40 hours a year is a piece of cake.

I’ve volunteered at Packer Games by handing out free items as fans enter the stadium and helped out at community runs as well.  Neither of these was awfully hard, which made me feel a little guilty about logging service hours.  I mean, shouldn’t volunteering be more work than this? This spring I attended a three-day leadership seminar where we were given a new challenge—100 hours within the next year.  This, I knew, was going to be much more difficult.  That’s when I decided to become involved with the Red Cross.

I figured volunteering at the Red Cross would mean helping out at blood drives.  When I was sent an application to fill out I was asked what category I’d like to help in, with options such as “transportation.”  Later at my orientation I learned what that meant.  Embarrassingly, I had no idea that Red Cross volunteers will pick up disabled or senior citizens in the area to drive them to various appointments.  I had also forgotten about the Red Cross’s focus on disaster prevention and preparation.  Although this intrigues me, my options are considerably limited being under the age of 18.

I admit I was nervous for my orientation, but Jody, the Volunteer and Communications Director, was very easy to talk to.  I was surprised when I mentioned my interest in journalism and she suddenly suggested that I write articles for the Red Cross from a teen’s perspective.  (And I thought handing out water to runners was easy!) This helped me come to realize that volunteering isn’t just about having so many people signed up to help with different events but it can be much more personalized than that.  The fact that people’s varying  abilities and interests can be used to help others in unique ways is really exciting.  I think it’s especially important that teens realize this because no matter what way you can help out, it’s rewarding.

Volunteering is surprising.  And who doesn’t like a good surprise?

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