As the beginning of summer draws closer, many students are excitedly making plans for days at the beach, road trips and travels abroad. However, for those staying in Palo Alto, there are numerous volunteer opportunities available to fill long summer days.
Working With Kids For students interested in volunteer positions that allow them to work with children, summer can be a perfect time. The City of Palo Alto offers Counselor-in-Training positions for teenagers aged 12 to 18. Volunteers work at the Fine Arts Camps and assist with activities such as preparing supplies and working with the campers on the day’s activities. The Pacific Coast Kids is another summer camp that accepts student volunteers. Pacific Coast Kids offers three different camps — Lego, Arts or Science — for children entering kindergarten to sixth grade. Volunteers at all the camps are expected to help the children with projects and assist in executing the camp curriculum.
Health Although volunteering as a camp counselor is a traditional summer activity for teenagers, there are also volunteer opportunities for those more interested in health and science The Stanford Blood Center accepts year-round volunteers. Volunteers prepare blood bags, work as lab aides and help donors after they have donated. Stanford Hospital also accepts volunteers that are at least 16 years old and able to commit to a minimum of six months, during which time they will help with a variety of tasks such as directing patients to their appointments, working in the Stanford Health Library, answering calls and stocking shelves.
Environmental Canopy is a local non-profit organization that plants and cares for trees in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and surrounding neighborhoods. Volunteers can help plant trees, take care of recently planted trees, teach and lead small groups during plantings or inform local residents how to help care for the trees. Environmental Volunteers is another environmental organization that aims to teach children about the environment. Though the majority of the volunteer positions for Environmental Volunteers are long-term, there are also some short-term opportunities available for the summer.
Elderly For students interested in working with senior citizens, there are many local opportunities to help out. Lytton Gardens offers a wide variety of volunteer projects, including teaching English, helping with errands, assisting with Poker Night and performing music for seniors. Channing House is another retirement home that also accepts volunteers.
Animals The Palo Alto Humane Society is a non-profit organization and is one of the nation’s largest animal protection programs. They provide many programs for animal advocacy through education and intervention. Students who are at least 16 years old can volunteer for the Human Society and work at a shelter, organize fundraisers and create letter-writing parties to supports legislation. Another option for students interested in working with animals is CuriOdyssey, a science and wildlife center aimed at children. During the summer CuriOdyssey volunteers help visitors with the exhibits. There is also a Keeper in Training volunteer position where students help care for the animals, though this requires a yearlong commitment.
Other There are many other volunteer opportunities for students whose interests range from building homes to working at a food bank. Habitat for Humanity aims to build affordable homes and renovate homes and community facilities. Volunteers must be 16 to help with construction sites or 14 to help with other activities such as organizing, cleaning, unloading donated items and working as cashiers. The Ecumenical Hunger Program is a non-profit organization that provides food, clothing and household essentials to those in need. Volunteers at this program will sort food and clothing, pack boxes and enter data.