Editor’s Note: If you’re looking to donate or volunteer in response to Typhoon Haiyan, see this post by the Travel Channel.


No matter how much time we spend partying, studying, and working in college, it’s always nice to find a way to squeeze in a little community service.

As college kids, it’s nearly impossible to find the funds to make charitable donations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t donate your time! Check out these five ways to contribute to the community and volunteer in college.

Related: 15 Ways to Give Back to Your Community

Be a Coach

Do you like to run? If not, do you like to be active or hang out with kids? Got an extra hour and a half per week?

Check out Girls on the Run in your area, and you can sign up to be a running coach once a week. This program highlights the importance of being strong, confident, and healthy in today’s dangerously insecure world of magazines, advertisements, bullies, and gossip, all through running.

The girls are between 8-13, and at the end of the semester/season, they all run a 5K together! Can you imagine running a 5K at 8 years old?

If you don’t have the time to coach, you can volunteer in other ways, like as a running buddy at the 5K. It’s a great way to get involved in the community and make positive change on the next generation.

Tutor ESL Students

You can probably find a work-study job doing this, but if you have a little spare time, it’s a simple and easy way to help someone who needs it. Most public and school libraries have flyers calling for volunteer ESL tutors, or you can just start a small group for those who need to practice their English.

Even if you only have time for a one-hour conversation class once a week, it can make a big difference in a foreign student or community member’s English.

Dance Marathon

You’ve probably heard a lot of sororities and fraternities participating in Dance Marathon for their community service, but you don’t have to be Greek to get involved. This nationwide movement involves college and high school students working in some capacity to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network.

At the end of the year, a 12-40 hour event, called a Dance Marathon, takes place, in which students stay on their feet, dancing, jumping, and other forms of entertainment to raise additional funds. The reasoning: “We dance for those who can’t.”

If you missed the beginning of this year’s program, you can always pay a visit to “Club Dance Marathon” in the middle of the marathon to make a donation and breathe energy into the exhausted volunteers.

Hospital Volunteering

Most hospitals have volunteer options, whether that means sponsoring a kid in the cancer ward by visiting them and playing games, or supporting the nursing units and customer service centers. Many of these opportunities are open to all students, while some are best for those interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

Here’s an example of one such program in the Irvine, CA area, and another for St. Jude’s Hospital. Search for opportunities at your local hospital.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters

You’ve probably heard of this program, which pairs adult “Bigs” with young “Littles” to help mentor and nurture kids who might not otherwise get the attention they need. By bonding with them, and spending time with them, your goal is to help them reach their potential.

Sometimes this means helping them find confidence, other times it just means playing games and spending time outside of their home. You can easily find a Big Brothers, Big Sisters location in your area.

Spend an hour a week together playing games, going to sporting events, visiting museums, or just having picnics in the park and you can make a big difference in a child’s life.

Honorable Mention: Donate Blood

This isn’t exactly volunteering, per se, but it’s definitely going to cost you a little time and some raw materials. If every college student donated blood just once a year, imagine how many transfusions would never have to wait for a donor.

Most schools have blood drives, so you should find the time to stop by and donate blood. Make sure you eat breakfast and drink lots of water

Related10 Free-Time Activities for College Students


Image: U.S. Navy