7 Community Service Opportunities For Kids & Teens Along the Main Line

Dec 23 2019

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Community service is a critical component of the identity, culture, and tradition of Friends’ Central School. We believe that caring for our communities, both locally and globally, serves our guiding testimonies of stewardship, community, peace, and integrity.

It can also be an incredibly effective way of teaching our children that they can make an impact on the world around them—an important lesson to learn. 

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In addition to empowering our children, community service has been shown to bring a number of other benefits. According to research conducted by the Corporation for National & Community Service, students who report doing better in school are more likely to be volunteers than students who report doing less well, and are also more likely to have been involved in community service as part of a school activity.

Are you looking for community service opportunities along the Main Line and Greater Philadelphia area for your children? Below, we’ve compiled a list that you can reference to find a great first community service location for your child.

Community Service on the Main Line

1. Easter Seals

As the nation’s largest nonprofit healthcare organization, Easter Seals serves more than 1.4 million people each year with early intervention, inclusive child care, medical rehabilitation, and autism services for young children and their families. They also serve adults with disabilities with job training and coaching, employment placement, and transportation services.

There are countless ways to get involved, as the Easter Seals offer several programs, services, and special events throughout the year. A list of volunteer opportunities can be found here. Be sure to check out the list of upcoming local events around the Philadelphia Main Line this fall as well.

2. Saunders House

Serving as part of the Main Line Senior Care Alliance, Saunders House provides care and wellness to seniors and their families. Their services include short-term rehabilitation therapy, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care, and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments.

Located less than a mile from Friends’ Central School, Saunders House offers many ways for children and teens to get involved. Volunteers aid in transporting residents to programs, lead small group activities, play games, read to residents with visual impairments, and simply spend time with residents. 

Saunders House also offers an educational internship program for students who are interested in volunteering while learning about the senior population. These internships will often fall into the categories of social work, music, art, and recreational therapy.

3. Main Line Animal Rescue

With a mission to be the nation’s leading and most innovative animal rescue, Main Line Animal Rescue focuses on eliminating systematic issues leading to animal abuse and pet homelessness. Thanks to their efforts, thousands of animals are helped every year.

With more than 600 active volunteers, MLAR welcomes anyone interested in walking dogs, socializing cats and bunnies, or helping out at monthly property and fundraising events.  

Students can apply to become a student volunteer as well (note: volunteers must commit to six months of volunteering at a minimum of eight hours per month).

4. Pals For Life

Since 1985, Pals For Life has brought pets to those who need them throughout the Delaware Valley. With a mission to enable people to lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives through interaction with companion animals, Pals For Life has several programs and opportunities to get involved.

Specifically, they provide pet visitation programs to health care facilities, offer a reading program to schools and libraries, help students relieve stress with PFL pet visits during final exams, provide private visits to the homebound, and pet teams assisting psychologists and psychiatrists with private patients.

Children as young as 12 can apply to become volunteers with the organization. Older children (and adults) can apply with or without a pet of their own.

If you are considering applying with your own pet as a volunteer animal, Pals For Life accepts dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, mini horses, and pigs, pending a full evaluation. For those looking to get involved in other ways, Pals For Life is always looking for help on their Benefit Committee, Bow WOW Bingo Committee, and special projects. They also welcome any community projects that gather needed supplies for visits.

Those interested can fill out a volunteer registration form or contact Program Director Kristen Abbott at 610-687-1101 or Kristen@palsforlife.org.

5. Main Line Youth Alliance

For more than two decades, the Main Line Youth Alliance has served LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia’s western suburbs by providing social, educational, and supportive activities all within a confidential, respectful, and safe environment. Ultimately, the MYA encourages healthy relationships with peers, family, and the community.

With meetings every Friday evening from 7-9:30 pm, there are plenty of opportunities for teens to get involved. In particular, teens and college students may serve as “greeters,” who work the door at events, or potentially offer support planning or chaperone support. 

Anyone interested in learning more about the volunteer opportunities at the MYA should email myayouthgroup@gmail.com.

6. Cradles to Crayons

Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth through age 12 with the everyday essentials needed to thrive, no matter the location—at home, at school, and at play. A vital component of Cradles to Crayons involves connecting with communities in need through meaningful volunteer experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds who want to engage in their work.

The Philadelphia location opened in 2006 and is located just 5.8 miles from Friends’ Central School at 4700 Wissahickon Avenue. Additionally, there are 22 drop-off locations around the Main Line and throughout the Greater Philadelphia area where students who collect goods for the program can drop off what they have collected.

Cradles to Crayons works with over 24,000 families, individuals, community groups, and companies to serve over 70,000 children in the region every year, so volunteer work is critical to their operations. Those interested can work a shift, host a drive, or become part of the Family Leadership Circle.

More information on how to get involved with Cradles to Crayons can be found here.

7. Ardmore Food Pantry

With a location just 10 minutes from Friends’ Central School, the Ardmore Food Pantry offers countless opportunities to volunteer and help those in need. According to the latest American Community Survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau, over ten percent of Ardmore residents are living in poverty. 

The Ardmore Food Pantry currently serves seven to ten percent of the more than 1,300 people noted in that Census survey, who need assistance with feeding their families and providing basic toiletry and hygiene needs.

Hours at the Ardmore Food Pantry are Monday mornings from 10am to 12pm and Monday evenings from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Beyond providing food, the Ardmore Food Pantry is dedicated to getting to know their guests in an atmosphere of mutual respect, understanding, and hospitality.

Those interested in volunteering can do so by signing up for the Monday morning or evening shift. A full list of ways to get involved can be found here.

How will you help your child get involved?

In addition to encouraging your child to participate in one of the volunteer opportunities above, it is important to remember that community service is best taught when it is lived every single day. 

Embracing community service as a family and talking about its importance is one great way of achieving this goal. Similarly, enrolling your child in a school community which values community service as much as you do is a surefire way of ensuring that your child is regularly exposed to community service opportunities of all types.

In fact, according to research conducted by the Corporation for National & Community Service:

  • 64 percent of teenagers who volunteer do so primarily through a school-based group or religious organization
  • 38 percent of the youth population has engaged in community service as a part of their school activity
  • 55 percent of those enrolled in school participate in volunteer activities, compared to 26 percent for those who are not

These opportunities not only provide a service to others, but also align with the goal of Friends’ Central School to “learn through service”

By working to cultivate the skills and understanding of real-world problems and social challenges in the 21st century, students at Friends’ Central can better understand how to affect social change and ultimately, strengthen their communities and self-worth in the process.

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