Many teens become caught up in the commercial aspect of the holidays. When dealing with a rebellious teen, many of the problems you are experiencing with them may become more pronounced as emotions run high. As teens don’t have as much life experience as their parents, teens can become overly involved in their own problems. Which makes sense, since it is literally the worst they have ever experienced and felt.
Service is a fantastic way to help all teens look beyond their own wants and problems. By serving the needs of others, thoughts are redirected from personal woes. It also provides a glimpse into the hardships others experience, giving your teen a better idea of how serious or not their own issues are.
We have compiled a list of 10 service opportunities which your teen can become involved with over the holidays. Depending on where you live, some of these may be more feasible than other. All of them were chosen to help teens look beyond themselves.
1. Soup Kitchen Volunteer
Seeing people who struggle to find one warm meal to eat can help your teen gain perspective when it comes to their personal problems. Some places to check in your community which may be hosting soup kitchens over the holidays are:
- Religious organizations
- Food pantries
2. Habitat For Humanity Teen Program
Habitat For Humanity has many ways for teens to become involved. Something they take pride in is being able to provide volunteer opportunities to children as young as 5 years old. As some volunteer opportunities we have listed have age restrictions, it is good that Habitat For Humanity has such a wide scope. Look through their teen volunteer page to see which service opportunity would best suit your teen.
3. Help Your Teen Organize A Food Drive
Your teen may need a hand from you to participate in this service opportunity, depending on how much food they can collect and how they want to organize the food drive. A simple way to conduct a food drive would be for you to drive your teen to various neighborhoods and to allow them to canvas the neighborhood for food to donate. Then you can drive your teen to your local food pantry to give them the donated food.
To make your teen’s collection more effective, they can carry a list of foods that most food pantries prefer. Some basics are:
- 100% juice boxes
- Holiday foods (canned yams, turkey stuffing boxes, canned cranberry sauce)
- Canned corn
- Canned green beans
- Canned tuna
- Shelf-stable milk
- Canned chicken
4. Older Teens Care For Our Furry Friends
Our furry friends can be forgotten over the holidays. Your teen can volunteer with local shelters and rescue groups. It isn’t just playing with puppies and kittens (though there is some of that too!). Much of the job a teen will perform is cleaning tasks. But even though pooper-scooper duty isn’t glamorous, it is needed.
Some shelters and rescues have age-restrictions, so this opportunity may only apply to older teens. Be sure to check with your local organizations.
5. Teenagers Serve Close To Home
Service doesn’t have to be only for those who are far removed from where your teen lives. Simple acts of service can improve the home and neighborhood. Some things you can suggest your teen do:
- Rake leaves for neighbor
- Repaint curb numbers
- Shovel sidewalks and driveways
- Pick up trash around neighborhood
6. Put Creative Talents To Good Use
If your teen has a spark of creativity, they can put it to good use. Many hospitals, nursing homes and organizations like Project Linus are in need of small blankets. Some blanket making ideas are:
- Crochet blankets
- Tied fleece blanket
- Quilted blanket
- Knit blanket
7. Nursing Homes Need Volunteers
You can involve the whole family in this service opportunity. Many nursing home residents miss their families over the holidays and your family can help alleviate that sadness.
Caroling is a good option when looking to serve at a nursing home. Teens can also volunteer to sit and just talk to residents or even paint their nails! Contact your local nursing homes and find out what is allowed at your nursing home.
Let your teen spearhead the project so they can appreciate the opportunity more completely.
8. Children In Need Of Role-Models
Children in shelters often can use positive role models in their lives. Teens can volunteer with their local shelters and act as babysitters, playmates, and tutors. However, this recommendation comes with a caveat. If your teen is especially troubled, they may not be a good fit to work with young children.
9. Teens Can Donate To Create Memories For Others
There are a few routes you can help your teen take when it comes to donating for the holidays.
- Toy drive donation – Have your teen donate some or all of their Christmas to a child in need. There are many organizations which would love donations (Toys For Tots, Operation Christmas Child, Christmas Spirit Foundation).
- Home clear out – Your teen can go through their own belongings and donate them to the local charity of choice.
- Pick a family – Ask your teen to think of a local family they may have noticed is struggling. This will help your teen become more aware of those around them. Depending on your teen’s resources, they can surprise their chosen family with a simple baked treat or more.
10. Adopt A Soldier For The Holidays
The holidays aren’t a festive break for everyone. Troops remain far away from family and friends while serving their country. Your teen can adopt a soldier for the holidays. This can help your teen feel more patriotic as well as aware of their own fortunate circumstances.
Overall, while being involved in service opportunities during the holidays is important, your teen would benefit from becoming involved in service all year. The benefits from holiday-based service can be carried throughout the year that way.