Does your school have a community volunteer program for students?'s Teacher Poll of the Week
Does your school have a community volunteer program for students?

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The majority of teachers, approximately 2-1, report that their school does not have a community volunteer program for students. The existence of such programs are important to the community and the student alike. Different periods of history have been marked by volunteerism, consumerism, materialism, etc. Think back to pioneer times when community members came together for barn buildings, crop harvests or just to help a sick or injured neighbour. Some of that was done out of necessity but much of the aid given came from a sense that it was our responsibility to help out where we could.

Some periods in more recent times have been stamped as ages of material want and greed. Volunteerism certainly hasn't ever gone away; it just has times where it isn't considered the 'in' thing to do. Fortunately, the era we now live in puts an emphasis on civic duty and many university scholarship programs look at community involvement as well as academic achievement when deciding recipients. The message: helping your community is vital to its success and to your own. Given these facts, it is surprising that more schools don't place an emphasis on community involvement.

Often times the beneficiaries of student volunteer programs are other students or less fortunate members of society. Peer tutoring programs are one such example but when the spirit of helping moves them students are capable of a great number of things. Student led food drives, recycling programs, and companion programs for the elderly all teach the students the value of helping others and directly benefit members of their community.

Older students are better able to devise and implement volunteer initiatives than are younger, elementary level students. This is where community volunteer programs started within the schools are important. Most programs are single school based and teacher driven but it doesn't need to be elaborate. Some schools organize fundraisers for local charities or clean litter from a local park. The actual project doesn't matter; it's the practise of instilling volunteerism at an early age that's important.

Students who grow up helping out their community continue to contribute as adults. The old saying that many hands make light work is true. Teaching our children the benefits of volunteering through school based programs reaps dividends in the future.