EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 7, 2014

Student volunteerism can have a positive impact, and help pay for college

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Volunteerism can help young people grow into well-rounded, responsible individuals. When volunteering, kids can learn new skills, foster new friendships and contacts and improve both their social and interpersonal skills. In addition, a 2011 study from researchers at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine found that people are generally happier and healthier when giving back to their communities.

Now, volunteering can even benefit students’ college funds. Students between the ages of six and 18 who haven’t yet graduated high school have the chance to be recognized for their volunteering efforts and earn money for higher education thanks to Kohl’s Department Stores. For more than a decade, the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program has recognized more than 19,500 students, awarding nearly $4 million in scholarships and prizes. This year the organization will award nearly $400,000 in scholarships and prizes to more than 2,300 young volunteers who have made a positive impact in their communities.

Finding the right activity is often the most important step when fostering a love of volunteering in youngsters, and there are a number of great opportunities and causes that children can relate to.

Embrace eco-volunteering. Children can volunteer with organizations that remove trash from beaches and parks; plant trees; promote wildlife conservation; or further recycling efforts in their communities.

Help the needy. From soup kitchens to shelters to private clothing or food collection drives, opportunities abound for kids who want to help the less fortunate.

Help the sick. Many kids who volunteer are motivated to do so by a close friend or family member’s battle with a particular illness, but some kids even turn their own personal adversity into an opportunity to help the sick.

Visit the elderly. Kids can learn a lot from their elders, and many organizations that work with the elderly offer volunteering programs for boys and girls. Individuals in group homes or hospitals often appreciate visits from youngsters, and kids can learn valuable life lessons in return.

Tutor fellow students. A child who is proficient in a given subject can lend a helping hand to fellow students who need some assistance. Working together to improve grades and school performance can improve others’ sense of self-worth and instill a greater sense of accomplishment in tutors.

Volunteering can foster a sense of social responsibility in youngsters, and may even help them finance their college educations. Nominations for the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program are accepted from January 31, 2014 to March 14, 2014. More information is available at www.kohlskids.com.