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51 Great Volunteer Opportunities for Teens

Finding the right volunteer opportunities for teens can help to increase their self-esteem while also building a greater sense of community.

Volunteer work is a great way for teens to learn valuable life lessons and engage with people from different backgrounds.  Whether your child is interested in serving their local community, or beyond, this comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities for teens has something for everyone!

Why is volunteering important?

There are tons of important reasons to pursue volunteer opportunities as a young adult. Community organizations rely on volunteers to provide vital services and assistance to the individuals they serve. Funding for these types of services is often limited and, without volunteers, many of these organizations would not exist.

Volunteerism also develops a sense of connection and positive citizenship. It helps create a mutually beneficial relationship between young people and organizations, within the local community as well as globally.

Benefits of volunteering

Whether you want your teens to learn the importance of giving back or are hoping for them to make good use of their free time, they will greatly benefit from volunteer experience.

Aside from making a positive impact on the world around them, teens who participate in volunteer work or volunteer projects have greater opportunities for personal growth and self-improvement.

Some of the best benefits of volunteering as a teen include:

  • Building self-esteem and confidence – developing a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction increases self-worth, boosting teen self-esteem and strengthening their belief in their own abilities.
  • Learning new skills – volunteering provides an opportunity to acquire valuable skills, preparing them for the future. Exposure to life skills such as time management, problem-solving and communication can help improve relationships as well as academics and career aspirations.
  • Making new friends – volunteering is an excellent way for teens to expand their social network and develop meaningful relationships with new people who share similar values.
  • Developing leadership skills – volunteer work provides young people with ways to develop better communication skills and improve decision making abilities. It also gives young volunteers the opportunity to work with others from diverse backgrounds and learn how to function as a team.
  • Strengthens college applications – the college application process is extremely competitive. Volunteer experience can help to showcase the unique ways high school students have impacted positive change as well as speak to their character.  
  • Encourages empathy – youth volunteers are often exposed to various encounters or experiences that may be absent from their own lives. This helps to build greater awareness and understanding of all levels of society and grow into a more empathetic young adult.
  • Fosters a sense of purpose – the teen years can feel lonely and confused. Volunteerism is the best way for teens to experience a deep sense of fulfillment and a sense of belonging.
  • Identifies passions and new interests – exploring various volunteer opportunities is a great way for teens to try new activities and break out of their comfort zone or specific niche. Encouraging younger kids to get involved with volunteer work can help to grow their passion for learning new things as well as helping others.
  • Reduces stress and anxiety – Having a sense of purpose and achievement helps boost overall well-being. The mental health benefits from participating in volunteer activities are a great form of self-care for teens.

How to start volunteering as a teen

The best place to start before diving into volunteering is to ask a few key questions. To make volunteering a great experience, here are some things for you and your teen to consider:

  • Check the minimum age requirements in advance for any volunteer opportunity. Some organizations or events have age restrictions, so it is a good idea to ask upfront.
  • Decide how much free time you have available to commit to volunteering. Organizations will appreciate knowing your availability in advance so they can plan accordingly. They also rely on your commitment so make sure to honor it! If you don’t have much free time, planning to participate in volunteer work on school holidays or for special events can be a great idea to strike a good balance.
  • Ask if there are any special clearances needed and allow the proper amount of time to obtain them. Youth sports organizations, or any volunteer opportunity associated with youth programs, will often require certain clearances in advance.
  • Have your teen reflect on what they may want to do and encourage them to research the needs of your community to see if they have any special talents, interests or passions that align well.

Volunteer opportunities for teens

1. Local animal shelter

Animal shelters provide many different volunteer opportunities. Some options may involve going into the shelter to help care for or clean the animals, while other external options may include organizing drives for supplies such as pet food, blankets, and toys. As always, check with the shelter in advance for any restrictions.  

2. Food banks

Your local food pantry is likely in need of donations as well as helping hands. Start by contacting the local food bank in your community to find out the greatest need and how you can best help. From food sorting to organizing a food drive, there are many ways to get involved and make a difference.  

3. Clothing drive

Organizing a clothing drive can be an easy way to have a huge impact. Have your teen contact local shelters, schools or religious organizations to ask if there are any specific needs. Then have them spread the word to neighbors, friends, and family. Set a specific time frame and offer to pick up bagged items for delivery to the organization.

4. Care packages for troops

From care packages to greeting cards, there are tons of great ways to brighten the days of military personnel across the world. Here is a full list of organizations with various volunteer opportunities to support our troops.

5. Local hospitals

If you have a teen that is interested in healthcare, volunteering at your local hospital can be an excellent way for them to learn the inner workings of the healthcare system. Opportunities range greatly, from stocking the gift shop to delivering magazines and books to patients. Restrictions may apply, so reach out to the Volunteer Services Department to find out the details.

6. Local library

If your teen has a passion for reading, writing, or any form of literature, participating in volunteer work at a local library is a great way to support their passion while helping an important community resource. Some popular activities include fundraising, participating in school programs, and shelving books.

7. Organize a drive for a homeless shelter

Collecting items for the homeless is a great way to get younger kids, as well as teens, involved in a good cause. Contact your local homeless shelter or women’s shelter to ask for a list of necessities. Spread the word about needed items over social media and to friends, family, and neighbors. Have your children offer to collect the items during a specific time frame and then arrange a drop off date with the shelter that your kids can participate in.

8. Special Olympics

Volunteers are the foundation of the Special Olympics movement. And there are so many amazing volunteer opportunities within the organization to help those with special needs! Coaching, fundraising, event management and even unified partners who play along athletes with intellectual disabilities are just a few of the rewarding ways your teen can get involved.  Find out how to get started, at any age, here.

9. American Red Cross

Red Cross Youth offers specific niche volunteer opportunities just for teens and high school students. Read information on how to engage in service projects, such as blood drives, and other educational opportunities to benefit your community or school here.

10. Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that partners with families in need to help repair, renovate, or build homes. They have specific youth programs with volunteer opportunities for young children that start as early as five years old. Your teen or young child needs no prior experience in home repair or construction, just a desire to help those in need.

11. Religious organizations or places of worship

Your local religious organization is a great resource to access volunteer work in your community. They may have designated slots to fill for serving at the local soup kitchen or know of senior citizens or sick parishioners who need assistance with specific errands. Churches may also need help with technology and maintaining their website or social media presence. Inquire at your local places of worship to get a full list of the missions they support.

12. Camp counselor

Youth summer camp or vacation bible schools are always looking for camp counselors or counselors in training. Some of these roles may be paid positions as well.

13. Fundraising events

Organize a fundraising event on behalf of a cause! There are tons of creative ways for your teen to raise money and awareness for the organization or cause of their choice. If your child likes physical activity, look up local walks or bike rides and encourage them to form a team. Or keep it simple with a bake sale or yard sale and educate participants about your good cause in the process!

14. Organize a toy drive

Toys for Tots offers tons of ways to get involved and streamlines the donation process. Even if your teen doesn’t have much time, partnering with Toys for Tots on hosting a toy drive is an easy way to have a huge impact on kids in their community.

15. Key Club

Key Club provides high school students with a unique opportunity to join one of the largest service organizations in the country. In conjunction with local Kiwanis clubs, members participate in various volunteer opportunities including community clean ups, clothing donation events, tutoring programs and more. Learn more about Key Club and if your local community has its own program.

16. Nursing homes

Volunteering in a local nursing home as a young adult or teen can be extremely rewarding for both sides. It’s a good way for older adults and young people to not only interact with each other but learn from one another.

17. United Way

United Way strongly believes that youth volunteers develop into adult volunteers. With that, many local chapters have specific volunteer opportunities geared toward youth and teens. Visit here to get check out a list for your specific area.

18. American Heart Association

The American Heart Association has some great ways for teens and younger kids to get involved and volunteer. They can participate in programs like “Advocate for Change” and “Become a Heart Walk Hero” or lead a service-learning fundraiser and even have a chance to earn a scholarship.

19. American Cancer Society

If your teen has been impacted by cancer, getting involved with volunteer work at the American Cancer Society may be a meaningful way to build a greater sense of purpose. The ACS has a great online resource that allows you to filter by age group, location and even virtual vs. in-person volunteer opportunities.

20. Rotary Club

Rotary Clubs can be a great place for young adults to expand their leadership abilities while learning the value of service.

21. Local children’s hospitals

Contact the Volunteer Services Department at your local children’s hospital to inquire about their specific needs. While these organizations always need help with fundraising, organizing something as simple as a get-well card campaign can have an amazing impact on kids as well as their families.

22. Promote awareness for a teen related cause

Being a teen today is no easy task. And what better population to relate to teens and the issues they face than fellow teenagers. Pick teen related cause and get involved with promoting awareness. Some ideas include teen homelessness and anti-bullying.

23. Organize a book drive

Teachers are often left to dip into their personal funds or rely on donations to supply their classrooms with extra resources. Start by going through old books in your house and spreading the word to friends, family, and neighbors that you will be collecting books to donate to local schools.

24. Yard work for elderly neighbors

Yard work is hard work. And for older adults, keeping up with their yard can be a source of physical pain as well as emotional stress. Find a few elderly neighbors and offer to do spring and fall cleanups of their yard or help with other yard related tasks.

25. Tutor

If your teen excels in a specific subject, tutoring is a great way to create a win-win situation where everyone involved builds a sense of purpose and achievement.

26. Offer free babysitting to someone in need

If you know a single mother or single father, check in to see if they can use some free assistance with childcare. Every hour you volunteer greatly helps lessen the financial stress of a single parent.

27. Grow produce to donate

If your teen has a green thumb this is the perfect opportunity for them to do something they love and have a huge impact on their community! Food pantries and food banks don’t often receive fresh produce, so this is a welcome added bonus for their offering.

28. Participate in community clean ups

Organizing a community clean up day can be a great way to get others involved with your volunteer work. You can check with environmental organizations or local public works departments to see if there are any trails that need maintenance or areas with a higher incidence of litter. National Geographic Kids has a great step-by-step plan for organizing your own event and getting the word out.

29. Race volunteer

Look up local races in your community and reach out to those organizations or causes to see what volunteer opportunities are available for young adults. Participate in activities such as greeting racers, helping at the registration table, handing out waters or even making posters of encouragement!

30. Youth sports coaching

Many youth sports organizations are often looking for volunteers to help coach. American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), which has opportunities for both coaches and referees, even offers training for volunteers who don’t have much previous experience or knowledge with soccer. If coaching is too much of a time commitment, some organizations even just need assistance setting up fields or courts before events.

31. Miracle League

Have a teen that loves baseball? Miracle League, a nonprofit organization started in 2000, removes barriers associated with mental and physical disabilities that keep children from playing baseball and offers them an environment to enjoy participating in the game. There are over 350 Miracle League organizations across the United States. Find a Miracle League near you and reach out to see how to get involved.

32. Best Buddies program

Best Buddies International is a global nonprofit organization that helps to create meaningful opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Opportunities such as one-on-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living are the focus of the Best Buddies program. Best Buddies is active in all 50 US states as well as 49 additional countries and territories.

33. Sierra Club

If your teen is passionate about climate change and the environment, then the Sierra Club may be a good fit. Explore how to get involved.

34. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)

Students Against Destructive Decisions, formerly Students Against Drunk Driving, is a student led network of chapters throughout schools and communities focused on peer-to-peer education. Through events and other opportunities, SADD promotes healthy decision making. Find a local SADD chapter to see how your teen can get involved.

35. Project Linus

Have a teen that loves to knit or crochet? Then Project Linus is the perfect fit for them to enjoy a pastime and brighten the spirits of a sick child. Project Linus provides handmade blankets to children ages 0-18 who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need. There are multiple ways to volunteer including becoming a blanket maker, or “blanketeer” as they fondly call them, or by giving your time.

36. Race for the Cure

The Susan G. Komen Foundation hosts a series of runs and fitness walks around the country throughout the year. Click the “in your community link” at the top of their “getting involved” page to find specific ways to volunteer within your community.

37. Play music at a local hospital, nursing home or senior center

If you are a teen that is passionate about playing a musical instrument or singing, consider sharing your talents with others! Places like hospitals and nursing homes will often use music as a therapeutic modality. And local senior centers regularly schedule young people from school music programs to come in and perform.

38. Senior center or community center

Senior centers offer an abundance of opportunities for teens to engage with senior citizens. Are you good with technology? Consider volunteering your talents to teach a class at your local senior center. Do you love to read? Some older adults with a passion for reading can no longer see well enough to enjoy their favorite pastime.  Consider volunteering to read from their favorite newspapers or books.

39. Boys and Girls Club

Engaging with youth programs as a teen is incredibly impactful to both parties. Whether you help with homework, coach a team, or teach an art project, you create the opportunity to positively impact the life of a child while also bringing purpose and fulfillment to your own. Find a local Boys and Girls Club in your area to explore volunteer opportunities.

40. Help a non-profit build their social media presence

Techy teens can use their amazing computer skills to help local nonprofit organizations enhance their social media presence and build awareness.

41. Big Brothers Big Sisters

One of the largest youth mentoring organizations in the world, Big Brothers Big Sisters is committed to empowering the youth of America. Many Big Brothers Big Sisters programs will require the “big” to be at least 18 years old, however it is worth checking with your local chapter on their specific minimum age requirements. Some offer the ability to become a “big” at age 16 or 17 with parental permission.

42. Local performing arts centers

If your teen has a passion for the performing arts, contact your local theatre or performing arts center to see what volunteer opportunities exist. Fundraising is often an important factor in the operations of many centers.

43. Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels, one of the most well-known meal programs in the country, has creative ways for young people to get involved beyond delivering meals to seniors in need. If you have a crafty teen that enjoys making little treasures for others, Meals on Wheels would love to include those small tokens on the trays of their seniors.

44. Ronald McDonald House

The Ronald McDonald House Charities may provide a lifeline for families, but their volunteers are the heartbeat of their tremendous organization. Opportunities for volunteer work include cooking, greeting, cleaning or simply by being present to assist wherever needed. Your teen can also reach out to RMHC to find out how to host a fundraiser.  Raising just $100 can help to provide four meals for a family staying at Ronald McDonald House!

45. YMCA

Volunteers are one of the greatest assets at the YMCA and they welcome people of all ages and backgrounds to participate. Volunteer activities such as food distribution or tutoring during after school enrichment can be a great way for teens to serve their community.

46. 4-H Centers

Youth volunteers with the emotional maturity and leadership abilities necessary to function in a volunteer role are important partners with their local 4-H Centers. If your teen has a special interest in mentoring or cultivating leadership skills in young children, this organization may be a great fit.

47. Locks of Love

Locks of Love offers more volunteer opportunities than just hair donation. They frequently seek volunteers to open mail and do data entry. They also welcome teen volunteers from high school clubs and other community groups to participate in service projects or other community service ideas.

48. Anti-Cruelty Society

The Anti-Cruelty Society helps provide shelter and medical care to animals in need. They welcome volunteers of all ages and offer virtual volunteer opportunities as well as in-person volunteer work. Have a teen that’s an animal lover and likes to read? Contact the Anti-Cruelty Society to become a Reading Buddy and read books to local shelter dogs to help them relax!

49. Join a beach preservation group

Live near the coastline? The are tons of volunteer opportunities to help with beach clean ups or even promote awareness of how to preserve the coastal environment. Reach out to your local county office to get connected to a local organization and see the ways you can get your teen involved.

50. Political elections, campaigns and local government

If you are a young adult and have a passion for local government, public policy or politics, volunteering to help with local elections or campaigns is the best way to learn, educate others and build the start of your own professional network.


This organization is a great resource to explore and sort through multiple volunteer opportunities in your area.

Making the world a better place

Participating in volunteer work is one of the best ways your teen can give back and do good in the world. The opportunities are endless for young adults to become involved and serve their community in a meaningful way that brings them a greater sense of purpose.