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Definition: What Is Community Service?


Are you looking for ways to help others? Are you interested in community service and want to learn more about it?

Read this guide to learn what community service is, examples of community service, and how you can find service projects that interest you.


What Is Community Service?

Community service is work done by a person or group of people that benefits others. It is often done near the area where you live, so your own community reaps the benefits of your work. You do not get paid to perform community service, though sometimes food and small gifts, like a t-shirt, are given to volunteers.

Community service can help any group of people in need: children, senior citizens, people with disabilities, English language learners, and more. It can also help animals, such as those at a shelter, and it can be used to improve places, such as a local park, historic building, or scenic area as well. Community service is often organized through a local group, such as a place of worship, school, or non-profit organization. You can also start your own community service projects.

Some students are required to complete community service as part of a class requirement in order to graduate high school or become a member of certain organizations, such as the National Honor Society. Adults can also participate in community service as a way to help others or if they are ordered to do so by a judge.


What Are Examples of Community Service?

There are hundreds of ways to participate in community service, depending on your skills and interests. Some common community service examples include:

Working with schoolchildren: Tutoring children after school, collecting school supplies to donate, planting a school garden.

Working with senior citizens: Visiting residents of a retirement center, delivering meals to senior citizens, driving them to appointments.

Improving the environment: Holding a recycling contest, planting trees, creating a new trail at a nature center.

Helping low-income people: Passing out food at a soup kitchen, collecting used clothes to be donated, making first aid kits for homeless shelters.





What Are the Benefits of Community Service?

There are many benefits of participating in community service, and some of the most important ones are listed below.

Have the opportunity to help others: This is often the most important benefit of community service. Participating in it gives you the opportunity to know that you are improving someone's life and making your community better, and you get to see the direct impact of your work.

Gain hands-on experience: You can learn a lot of skills while performing community service such as construction, painting, customer service, and medical skills. You can also include your community service work on your resume.

Learn about different careers: Sometimes you can focus your community service in a field you may want to work in down the road. Some examples of this include volunteering at an animal shelter if you are thinking about becoming a veterinarian, working at a hospital if you want to be a doctor, or volunteering in a museum if you like history. The experience gained from community service can help you get an internship or job in the future, and it also gives you the opportunity to see how much you would really enjoy a particular career.

Personal growth: Doing community service has personal benefits as well. It often makes participants more organized, responsible, and compassionate, which are all good qualities to have, as well as qualities that both colleges and employers like to see in applicants.

Gain new friends: A final benefit is that you can meet a lot of great people while doing community service. Community service is often done in groups, so it’s easy to make friends with the people you are working with. You may also become friends with the people you are helping, especially if you volunteer at the same place regularly.


Where Can You Find Community Service Projects?

Your school or groups you belong to: This can include clubs, places of worship, community centers or any other organizations you are a member of. To find community service opportunities, check their website, bulletin board, or newsletter. If you are a student, your school may also have a community service club that makes it easier to get involved.

Places where you'd like to volunteer: If you have a specific place where you’d like to perform community service, like a hospital or animal shelter, contact them and ask if they take volunteers.

Your community itself: You can also look for opportunities at your town hall, or similar building. Also, check your town’s website or newsletter. Many include a section that lists current volunteer opportunities.




What's Next?

Did you know that your volunteer work can earn you money for college? It can! Check out the complete list of community service scholarships.

Considering doing community service in a foreign country? Check out our guide to see whether you should participate in a volunteer abroad program. 

Do you want more examples of community service? We have a list of 129 great volunteer ideas! 



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Christine Sarikas
About the Author

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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