Are you a student in middle school who wants to start volunteering? Here are a collection of virtual volunteer ideas that will hopefully inspire you to give back to the community.
There are many reasons why it’s good to start volunteering in middle school. One that you might not realize, is if you start now…you will gain experience that might help you get leadership positions in high school or non-profit organizations.
I know many students are busy with extracurricular activities, so you might be looking for something you can work on at your own pace. These ideas are all self paced, virtual volunteer opportunities. If you are already in high school, these ideas will work for you as well.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”– Margaret Mead
Virtual Volunteer Ideas for Middle Schoolers
1. Make Scarves or Hats for the Military
If you are a crafty type of person, this idea might be the one for you. Operation Gratitude loves to receive handmade scarves and hats year-round to include in their care packages to the troops. Even if you have never crocheted or knitted something, you might give this a try. It’s pretty easy, once you get the hang of it.
If you are new to knitting or crocheting, I would recommend to starting with a knitting loom. The round looms are great for hats and scarves. The straight ones are great for scarves. Go straight to YouTube if you need a tutorial. The LoomaHat YouTube channel is a great resource. Trust me…you can do this!
When buying a loom, be sure you get one that is sized for an adult. Lastly, please make these items on a table or other surface that is clean and free of pet hair.
2. Become a Zooniverse Researcher
Another one of the great virtual volunteer ideas is online at Zooniverse!
More than a million people around the world come together at Zooniverse to help research projects. One of the biggest challenges in research today is sifting through large amounts of data and information. At Zooniverse, the researchers rely on volunteers like yourself to analyze photographs or documents online. There are projects across many different disciplines such as nature, space, medicine, history, climate, and many more.
It takes only seconds to register as a researcher and you can immediately start on projects. After you register, you can keep track of your work and you will be credited in any resulting publications. There is no minimum time requirement when you sign up for a project. You can work as much or as little as you would like.
3. Make Cards for Children in Hospitals
Making cards for kids that are in the hospital is another creative option. Cards for Hospitalized Kids (CFHK) is a charitable organization that will send handmade cards to Children’s Hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses in all 50 states.
Students can earn service hours for their time spent making cards for CFHK. They do not follow a set formula on how many cards equal a service hour. Service hours are calculated based on the number of hours are spent making the cards. Photos of the cards and a time log is required for verification purposes.
Check out their card making guidelines here. Everyday cards and holiday theme cards are accepted. Click here to find inspiration on holiday cards that were previously sent to Cards For Hospitalized Kids.
3. Host a Food Drive
Hosting a food drive in your neighborhood is another easy idea. Many neighborhoods have a Nextdoor online community. You could set up a drive on there, have a bin on your doorstep, and collect food for a week. If you live in an apartment, check with the front office and see if they will allow you to put a collection bin in the office. A word of caution on marketing your event, remember it is illegal to put flyers in mailboxes.
Go to Feeding America to find a local food bank near you. Once you final a local food pantry, check their website for needed items and make sure you list those items when you post the drive.
Make sure you are not collecting items that would be affected by adverse cold or hot weather. I would definitely post that you are having a drive at least a week or two before you start collecting so that your neighbors can pick up items during their normal grocery runs. It’s so easy to pick up a few extra items when you are already at the grocery store!
5. Host a Beanie Baby Collection Drive
Operation Gratitude likes to include Beanie Babies or a similar sized stuffed animal in all of their care packages that are sent to deployed soldiers. These stuffed animals, help the soldiers build goodwill with the local kids.
Operation Gratitude will accept new (obviously) or gently used Beanie Babies, Webkinz or other small plush toys. My gut is you probably have a few of those that you don’t play with anymore. Ask your friends if they have any as well. I bet you could quickly get a good amount. You might even consider posting your drive on a neighborhood website like Nextdoor.
If you choose this option, remember you will need to ship the stuffed animals to Chatsworth, California. Operation Gratitude does partner with Give Back Box, to help limit the shipping cost. At the time of this writing you can ship 50 lbs of stuffed animals for $20. That’s a lot of beanie babies!
6. Make No Sew Blankets
Many organizations need blankets. These blankets are one of the easiest virtual volunteer ideas for students. Here are a few places that might need a homemade blanket:
- Local Animal Shelter
- Local Project Linus Chapter
- Local Children’s Hospital
Contact your local organization to make sure they are currently accepting blankets. In addition, you will also want to verify that you have a large clean surface that will be free of pet hair before starting making the blankets. Finally, ask the organization what size of blanket is needed.
Generally, it is more cost effective to buy the two pieces of fabric, instead of the kits. You can find the fabric at your local craft stores such as Joanns, Michaels, or Hobby Lobby. I have also found fleece at some Walmarts as well. Amazon is also an option, of course.
7. Make Paracord Lanyards
Another one of the virtual volunteer ideas for middle schoolers is to make paracord lanyards for Operation Gratitude. It’s so easy and it takes about 5 minutes to make just one. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily make them while binge-watching your favorite show.
I recommend buying the paracord in at least 100 ft sections and cutting it yourself. 100 ft of 550 paracord typically will cost anywhere from $9 -$11. A great place to buy is either eBay or Amazon. Each lanyard is made with 5 feet of cord, so you can make 20 lanyards with 100ft of paracord.
You will need to seal the ends with a lighter and a pair of pliers, so just be very careful. My daughter and I made these with a candle nearby, so we could use the candle’s flame to melt the ends. Check out this YouTube video from Operation Gratitude to see exactly how to make the lanyards.
Operation Gratitude will certify your community service hours. For every 5 paracord lanyards, you will receive 1 community service hour. So 100ft of paracord should earn you 4 community service hours, even though I am confident it won’t take you that long. Operation Gratitude says normal turnaround for community service hours can be 2-4 weeks, so plan ahead!
8. Make Kindness Rocks
The Kindness Rocks Project mission is “one message at just the right moment can change someone’s entire day, outlook, life.”
You might consider getting a group of friends together and have a rock painting event while watching a movie or binge streaming a favorite tv show.
If you want to do it as a school organization activity, talk to your sponsor first and suggest the idea. I would bet money that they would love for you to organize an event that promotes kindness to others. Students can make these rocks at home and then your sponsor can determine the best place for the rocks to be placed.
To find a great location to place the rocks, search for a Kindness Rock Facebook Group in your area. That group can help give you ideas on places to hide your creations.
Remember to use eco-friendly paint when decorating your rocks. One unique feature of this project is that they have a philosophy of leaving no trace. Visit Leave No Trace to see how you can participate in this project, while limiting the impact to the environment.
9. Make or Decorate Pillowcases for Operation Gratitude
Project Pillowcase is another volunteer from anywhere opportunity at Operation Gratitude. (I am truly not affiliated with this organization, they just have a lot of great at home volunteer ideas.)
When soldiers are deployed, they don’t always have bedding. They sacrifice so much for so many, they most definitely should have a pillowcase!
If you choose to sew a pillowcase, Operation Gratitude suggests dark colors or prints and something that would appeal to everyone. The troops love flannel if you are making the them, but a cotton blend works great too.
If you plan to decorate the pillowcases, white is probably the best choice. Then your fabric markers will show up well. It is important to use something that has indelible ink. An example would be Sharpies for fabric. See the Project Pillowcase webpage for more details.
Unfortunately, Operation Gratitude does not certify volunteer hours for decorating a pillowcase. However, if you sew two pillowcases, you can get one hour of community service.
10. Make Dog Tug Toys for Animal Shelters
Most animal shelters need toys for dogs while they are waiting to be adopted. These tug toys help keep the dogs entertained while living in the shelter. One dog may need several toys depending on the length of time it lives in the shelter.
You can make these with fleece or even old clean t-shirts. The dogs will be so happy to have a new toy! You might consider asking friends or family if they have any old t-shirts they would donate to this cause. I would bet money that you could get all the t-shirts donated, so this project would cost nothing.
This is another activity that could easily be done while watching your favorite tv show!
This post is all about virtual volunteer ideas for middle schoolers.
There are so many organizations that need help and many of them you can help from the comfort of your own home. I encourage you to do something this year. Think about which project you would be most passionate about and give it a try. You are definitely old enough to start giving back! The world needs you!!
“At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.”– Denzel Washington
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