There’s no doubt about it: Volunteering matters. The social and emotional learning skills that come with volunteering are essential to kids’ development and lifelong success. Plus, giving back to our community promotes civic engagement and leadership. That’s why many states require volunteer hours for high school students. It’s even better to start early; young children learn kindness along with responsibility when they volunteer with their families.
Finding opportunities for volunteering with children and teens isn’t as difficult as you might think. You can explore these ideas for elementary, middle, and high schoolers and share them with your students and their families! The list below showcases national organizations and then a list by state.
Volunteering Opportunities With National Organizations
Throughout the United States, these organizations welcome families volunteering with children and teens.
Arbor Day Foundation
The Tree Campus K–12 program inspires the next generation of tree stewards through experiences that bring the benefits of trees to life both inside and outside the classroom.
Books for Africa
Get involved with the mission to end the African book famine by volunteering at one of our warehouses. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old.
This “youth-led movement for good” gives teens the opportunity to make an impact, win scholarships, and earn volunteer credits.
Find a local meal program that needs help or work to raise awareness of food insecurity.
Locate a food pantry, soup kitchen, or meal program looking for volunteers. (Note: some of them require you to verify the age requirements for volunteers.)
Girls on the Run
Join Girls on the Run and be part of a movement that is empowering and inspiring girls physically and mentally. Some opportunities require volunteers to be at least 18 years old.
Travel overseas to help those in need. Parents and legal guardians of minors under age 18 must complete a Minor Registration and travel with their children.
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Train or foster guide dogs or help with administrative tasks. Puppy raisers can be any age, whether you’re 9 or 90. No prior experience is necessary!
Habitat For Humanity
The Habitat Youth Programs instill a love of volunteering from an early age by providing a variety of volunteer opportunities for those ages five to 40.
The Urban Assembly and SEL4US invite communities across the globe to celebrate the importance of social emotional learning (SEL) on the second annual International SEL Day on March 26, 2021. This year’s theme is Building Bonds, Reimagining Community.
Literacy Network (Reading is Fundamental)
Host a book drive, advocate for literacy, or be a reading mentor.
MLK Day of Service
Kick-off a Semester of Service that begins on MLK Day in January and continues through Global Youth Service Day in April.
National Park Service
Help with park maintenance or work with visitors to make their experience a great one.
National Volunteer Week
Celebrate the impact of volunteer service in our communities.
Write letters or assemble care packages for troops overseas.
Make security blankets for children in hospitals.
Help with a variety of activities, such as organizing a blood drive or assisting with disaster relief. Volunteers must be 18 or older or have permission from a parent or guardian
Ronald McDonald House
Volunteers make a difference in the lives of the children and families served by the Ronald McDonald House by cooking, greeting, listening, cleaning, or simply being there and helping out in any way they can. Age requirements may vary by location.
Volunteers of all ages can get involved in the global movement to create a new world of inclusion and community, where every single person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability.
USTA (United States Tennis Organization)
Help local and national tennis tournaments run smoothly. Community Tennis Associations and the National Junior Tennis & Learning network are great places to start, as is the USTA Junior Team Tennis program.
High school students under the age of 18 make up some of Volunteering Journeys’ most passionate and engaging volunteers.
WE Volunteer Now
Teens can work together to do good, take action, and make a difference in their community.
Youth Volunteer Corps
Teens between the ages of 11 and 18 can become a YVC youth volunteer.
Volunteering Opportunities by State
Every local community has plenty of opportunities for children and teens to volunteer. VolunteerMatch is an excellent site for finding local organizations that need help. Many states even have their own volunteer resource pages, too. If available, we provided those links below. We’ve also highlighted a volunteer organization in each state. It’s time to get out and make a difference!
Middle school and high school students looking to fulfill community service hours can help organize donations for Free2Teach‘s shop full of free items to help teachers in Madison County.
The Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) program provides leadership skills training and supports youth-led community action projects and campaigns.
Teens age 16 and over can volunteer directly at the Lost Our Home Pet Rescue shelter, or from the comfort of their own home or school! Kids ages 7-15 who are accompanied by their parent can also volunteer.
Teens ages 14 and up can make a difference at Arkansas’s Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.
Teens who are 18 and over can volunteer to tutor homeless students in Southern California’s School on Wheels program.
Families and teens are welcome at Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. The Cairn Youth Program, featuring monthly activities for high schoolers throughout the school year, allows kids to enjoy the great outdoors while helping to protect it.
The Hospital of Central Connecticut’s Teen Volunteer Program connects high school students with opportunities to provide invaluable assistance to many hospital departments and gain experience in healthcare.
Teen volunteers age 14 and up are welcome at Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington and can work with guests or animals. The Zoo also offers animal care and education department internships to volunteers over 18 years old.
The Florida Aquarium offers two ways for teens to get involved — the Teen Education Program and the SEA League.
Trees Atlanta welcomes volunteers of all ages to attend their tree and meadow plantings (typically October – March) and ages 12 and up for tree maintenance projects (typically April – September). Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Teens can share their “talking story” with kūpuna (seniors) at Lunalilo Home in Oahu.
The Boise Bicycle Project repairs and distributes bikes to those who need them. Teens under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian while training, but graduates of the Youth Earn-a-Bike program do not require parent or guardian supervision when volunteering.
The Honeycomb Project hosts family volunteer events in Chicago. Their new virtual volunteer program is also growing fast! More than 2,500 kids and their families have already signed-on to volunteer.
Bring history to life! Kids ages 10 through 18 can portray a historical character at Connor Prairie outside of Indianapolis.
Teen athletes can give back with Courage League Sports throughout Central Iowa. This is a great volunteer opportunity for students who need service hours.
KindCraft plans monthly events in Kansas City perfect for families to volunteer with children and teens.
Teens can volunteer at the Kentucky Science Center in Louisville through programs such as Home School VolunTeens and the Youth Infusion Board.
Nature-loving teens can become Jr. Naturalists at the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center. They also offer virtual environmental education and social events.
Portland Trails helps maintain trails, including those for hiking and biking. Volunteers must be at least age 18 or be accompanied by a guardian in order to volunteer.
The volunteer program at the Maryland SPCA is designed for individuals 17 years of age and older, but teen under 17 can still make a difference by making cat and dog toys and blankets, collecting items on the wish list, reading to shelter pets, or enrolling in the youth internship program.
Cradles to Crayons Giving Factory encourages entire families to volunteer with children side-by-side to make lasting family memories as they help make a real difference in the lives of others.
Gleaners Food Bank welcomes youth volunteers to help prepare food for those who need it. At the same time, participants will learn about nutrition and hunger issues.
VEAP, based in Bloomington, encourages teens to volunteer with their friends, teams, or clubs to share their passion for a great cause while having fun.
MCM’s Volunteer Programs, for ages 16 and up, are the perfect way for teens to earn community service hours, get real world experience, meet new people at the Mississippi Children’s Museum!
Missouri Botanical Garden offers a network of teen programs as well as some for elementary-age students.
The Montana Wilderness Association‘s Youth Engagement program gives teens a chance to learn about land stewardship.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has volunteer opportunities for all students in 4th through 12th grade.
Kids age 14 and up can volunteer at Springs Preserve, outside of Las Vegas, where they’ll help maintain the grounds and engage guests.
At the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, youth volunteers help with guests and special events.
Teens can print a coloring page from the Color a Smile website, color it however they like, and then have it delivered to senior citizens, troops overseas, or anyone who needs a smile.
Lovers of southwestern history can volunteer at El Rancho de las Golondrias in Santa Fe.
Volunteer New York enriches lives with unique youth volunteering opportunities for families and teens.
Know a teen who is interested in pursuing a career in medicine? Guide them to the Rex Healthcare VolunTEEN program to gain practical experience in a medical setting.
The State Historical Society of North Dakota provides volunteers to historic and cultural sites around the state.
Kids ages 13 and up can volunteer at Stepping Stones in Cincinnati. Here, they’ll help improve the lives of those with disabilities.
STEM lovers in grades 7 through 12 can join the Teen Apprentice Program at Science Museum Oklahoma.
Explore a wide variety of virtual volunteering opportunities at the Children’s Book Bank.
Kids ages 4 and up can join their families at Pittsburgh’s FosterLoveProject, where they’ll help prepare items for foster kids.
Student ambassadors for Clothes to Kids of Rhode Island coordinate clothing drives among their peers.
The Charleston Animal Society’s youth volunteer programs are available to kids and teens between the ages of 8-17.
Teens age 14 and over can help guests learn through play while volunteering at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota in Brookings.
Teens must be between 14 and 17 years old who have completed at least one year of high school science to volunteer at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.
Mission Accomplished’s Operation Clean Clothes in Austin washes clothes for the homeless. Teens and families volunteering with children are welcome.
Know a teen who loves birds? Youth 15-18 years of age are welcome to volunteer with any department except Aviculture at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City.
Older teens can volunteer their time at the ECHO aquarium and science center in Burlington.
Teens and families volunteering at Housing Families First in Richmond help support homeless families.
Northwest Harvest has ongoing volunteer opportunities for anyone who is nine years old and up. The organization works to provide hunger relief throughout Washington.
Seventh graders and older can help with the daily responsibilities of running the Good Zoo at Oglebay.
Toddlers and Kids on a Mission in Milwaukee is dedicated to families volunteering with children.
Youth volunteers are welcome at Cheyenne Frontier Days, where the organization hopes to recruit supporters for life.
Interested in more volunteering opportunities? Check out The Ultimate Guide to College Scholarships!