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Over the past couple of summers, I’ve gotten the chance to volunteer at my public library. I guess it’s only fitting for me, considering that several of my favorite childhood memories involve the local bookstore or a Dr. Seuss book. As part of the library’s summer reading program, I have helped the library staff run a variety of children’s activities.

I’ll be honest, I’ve always wanted to volunteer. However, my anxiety, along with the fact that I didn’t know anyone else my age that volunteered, discouraged me from doing so. As summer started and my sophomore year ended though, I finally mustered enough courage to ask the head librarian if I could help out.

As a result, I started off my adventures into community service by helping small, preschool age children make paper owls, a task which involved gluing eyes and a beak to a folded piece of construction paper. Although I began to question my ability to use scissors properly (yet another problem of being left-handed), it quickly became a lot of fun for me as well as the kids. During some of my other days, I’ve run games and other arts and crafts projects (the librarians were even willing to trust me with a glue gun).

Volunteering gave me a break from stress and helped me make more friends. It was neat to meet people with similar interests, and I’ve found that volunteering makes a great resume booster and networking tool too. Besides, maybe my dream job of being surgeon general will one day require the use of my ability to mass-produce dirt cups. Okay, that last one might have been a stretch, but I have learned some neat projects to bring back with me for babysitting gigs.

So if volunteering and community service seems interesting, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. I was nervous about working with a youth program like the library’s, but my time ended up being very well spent. Many other libraries and community centers offer outreach programs that are in need of teens and adults to lend a hand. More than anything, don’t be afraid to call or walk around and simply ask if there are any volunteering opportunities available to you in your town, since not all volunteering positions are publicly posted. Being told ‘no’ one or twice isn’t fun, but finding the right ‘yes’ can be incredibly rewarding.


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