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JUST DO IT! HOW TO VOLUNTEER

Volunteers, please! Many organizations in the Buffalo area are in dire need of volunteers, and just because we're young doesn't mean we can't help out.

Like most teens, I wasn't very interested in volunteering. I thought it was a waste of time. But I found out that volunteering doesn't have to be boring.

If you do well in school, you can share your gift with a younger kid by tutoring.

The Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers is involved in a tutor/role model program at Futures Academy. High-school-age students come to the school every Monday through Thursday from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. and help younger kids with their homework.

"It's important to see high school students who are academically gifted and being rewarded for doing well," said Barbara Dickson, of the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers.

This program is a great idea because it gives younger kids someone older to look up to.

Also, teens can volunteer with senior citizens. Working with senior citizens opens up the past to many teens. It gives older people the chance to speak of their experiences and lives, and younger people the chance to learn from the past.

Sisters Hospital welcomes groups of students from schools to its nursing home-type ward. The Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers also has a Senior Center.

Children's Hospital also accepts teen volunteers. Though you must be 15 1/2 , it's a good experience for teens interested in the medical profession. In order to qualify, you must have working papers, two PPDs and a test for tuberculosis.

During the school year, most teens work in various offices and departments, or are gofers and errand runners throughout the hospital. During the summer, teen volunteers can work with children under adult supervision.

Space is limited to 25 to 30 teens, who are required to volunteer a minimum number of hours. For information, call Sue Siegel at the hospital.

Interested in animals? Then contact the SPCA, which accepts volunteers, especially during the spring.

The Special Olympics offers sport opportunities to mentally and physically challenged people of all ages. As a former volunteer for the Special Olympics, I can vouch for the fact that helping this organization is fun and makes you feel great.

If you are interested in helping the needy, the City Mission always needs volunteers. Though it usually accepts high school-age students only in groups, you could talk to a teacher or group leader about volunteering with your class or club.

Another way to work with children is to help a Girl Scout or Boy Scout troop. You can do this through your school, church or community center. For information, call the Girl Scout or Boy Scout councils.

Finally, talk to leaders in your places of worship, school or community center about volunteer opportunities. Ask friends and family members.

Look around, see what you can do, and do it!

Kate Nowadly is a sophomore at Holy Angels Academy.

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