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Teens find volunteering is a rewarding way to help others

Are you looking to make a difference in your community? Volunteering your time and talents is all that it takes. There are ample opportunities to get involved.

Now that Thanksgiving is here and more holidays are right around the corner, volunteer opportunities are plentiful, such as making care packages for troops overseas or providing orphans with Christmas gifts.

Raquelle Raugh, a junior at Williamsville East High School, began volunteering this year as a youth group leader for fifth-grade girls at SHINE, the middle school ministry at her church, The Chapel in Getzville. Raquelle said the decision to volunteer was simple.

“I wanted to volunteer because I loved SHINE when I was there and I never wanted to leave,” Raquelle said. “I wanted to help in some way and I felt like God was calling me to (help) middle schoolers.”

Following Raquelle’s example, teens interested in volunteering should find what they are passionate about and what interests them. Then find ways to give back to others while doing something they enjoy. Everyone understands that being a teenager comes with many obstacles and requires time management skills to balance all their activities. But Raquelle says volunteering is easy to fit into even a busy life.

“You don’t need to spend hours volunteering. Giving two hours a week is enough,” she said. “It makes a difference with whatever you do.”

Instead of wasting time scrolling through hours of Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and Instagram selfies, teens can make a difference and lend a helping hand.

Raquelle is not the only area teenager making a difference. Anthony Ormsby, a junior at Grand Island High School, and Alyssa Smith, a junior at Lockport High School, both brought a huge fundraiser to their schools’ attention.

Their youth group, MOVI, provided an opportunity for teenagers to bring a fundraiser to aid the Ebola crisis to their schools. The fundraiser – Build Hope – has been going on at middle and high schools throughout Western New York, but both of these teens took it to the next level.

Anthony and his school’s Bible club decided to hold a bake sale at Grand Island’s homecoming football game where all proceeds went directly to the Ebola fund. Alyssa dedicated her paycheck – $200 – to the cause.

“Volunteering is now a necessity in my life. It keeps me humble and happy,” she said. “It inspires me and encourages me to be a better individual. I love volunteering with all my heart.”

Some teens may be a little intimidated by such bold actions and afraid of any uncomfortable situations volunteering may bring. But Anthony encourages teenagers to “go for it.”

“The outcome of your service is always worth the risk it takes to do it,” Anthony said.

Raquelle and Alyssa agreed.

“Volunteering can – and will – change our lives in ways you would never have expected,” Alyssa said.

Anthony and Raquelle both said that to them volunteering means giving up their time to help something or someone who is in need.

So next time you say you are bored or are looking for something to do with your friends, take a risk and make a change. Volunteer and be an inspiration to others.

Hollie Gfroerer is a junior at Sacred Heart Academy.