What are the Different Types of Community Service?

Dana Hinders

The term community service refers to any act that is performed for the benefit of the community at large. Acts can range from a one-time effort to collect canned goods for the local food pantry to a weekly commitment to serve meals to the homeless. People do not receive financial compensation for their services, although a number of award programs exist to recognize the contributions of volunteers.

For someone who enjoys singing, volunteering to be a part of your local church's choir is a good form of community service.
For someone who enjoys singing, volunteering to be a part of your local church's choir is a good form of community service.

In many cases, community service is performed as part of a person's membership in a social organization. Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts may volunteer to read to the elderly residents at a local nursing home or collect toys to distribute to needy children in the community. Members of a church fellowship may take a weekend trip to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity. A professional association for accountants may organize an effort to provide low-income people with tax preparation assistance.

Community volunteers might help a low income family make improvements to their home.
Community volunteers might help a low income family make improvements to their home.

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A person does not have to be a member of a specific organization to participate in community service activities, however. Many people choose to volunteer as a way to meet other people with similar interests, much like how one might socialize at a nightclub or a sporting event. Volunteering can be a great way for retirees to remain active in their community. Stay at home parents often use volunteer work to keep their professional skills sharp during their break from the workforce.

Picking up litter is an easy way to give back to the community.
Picking up litter is an easy way to give back to the community.

Community service, while ideally a voluntary act, is sometimes required by schools as a condition for high school graduation. In addition to enhancing a student's college application, studies have shown that teenagers who volunteer typically show improved academic performance. Under mandatory service arrangements, teenagers must complete a specified number of hours of supervised community service per semester. However, they are usually allowed to choose activities that best fit their own personal interests, such as singing in the church choir or helping to organize library books.

Community service might include taking part in a graffiti cleanup project.
Community service might include taking part in a graffiti cleanup project.

Community service may also be ordered as punishment for a crime. In the case of nonviolent offenders, such as people convicted of drunk driving, it may be ordered instead of jail time. For incarcerated inmates, community service is sometimes required as part of the prison's rehabilitation program. Cleaning up trash, removing graffiti, planting trees, or building playground equipment while under the supervision of prison guards are common tasks performed under this type of arrangement.

Boy Scouts generally perform all kinds of community services.
Boy Scouts generally perform all kinds of community services.
Volunteering to vacuum the home of the sick or elderly is a helpful community service.
Volunteering to vacuum the home of the sick or elderly is a helpful community service.
Community service can include working for charitable organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, that build homes for people in need.
Community service can include working for charitable organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, that build homes for people in need.
Donating spare change to local organizations is part of community service.
Donating spare change to local organizations is part of community service.
Community service may involve collecting canned goods for the local food pantry.
Community service may involve collecting canned goods for the local food pantry.

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Discussion Comments

anon994811

I know this may seem like a strange question but I am really curious as to the answer. I am interested in applying for a new career and they require that you have done community service. I do not have any that I can think of except that I was an unpaid caregiver for my elderly and disabled mother for nine years. Would this fall under any kind of community service or does it need to be for an organization in my community in order to qualify? Thank you for replies.

anon324838

@Icecream17: How did you become involved in volunteering for the Make-A-Wish Foundation?

suntan12

Icecream17- That must've been an incredible community service experience. I know that many schools include community service learning as part of the curriculum.

I know that Catholic schools require a certain percentage of community service from the students. Student community service is required in order to be promoted to the next grade.

They start at the elementary level and work their way all the way to high school. This helps to shape children's character over time, and cause them to be more compassionate individuals. Community service opportunites offer lifelong lessons to children.

icecream17

Bhutan-Wow,that is wonderful. I was involved with children community service programs too. I mainly volunteered for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I was both a wish granter and a volunteer for the charitable events. As a wish granter, I along with a partner was assigned a child that we had to visit.

Our goal was to find out what this child wanted. After we interviewed the child and the family we would submit the request to the Make-A-Wish Foundation office, and then they would schedule the date that the wish will actually take place.

Most of the wishes were granted quickly. The only ones that had a little delay were the celebrity wishes.

My most memorable wish was for a little three year old boy that wanted a shopping spree. We picked up the family in a limo and the store manager walked around the store and helped the little boy get whatever he wanted.

Then we took the family to lunch and dropped them off at home. The family for that day did not think about the little boy’s illness.

This organization really touches me because they do so much for children that are terminally ill. This is one of thebes community service opportunites out there.

Bhutan

Sunny27- I was a volunteer for Hands on Miami. There were also visits to the Winn-Dixie Hope Lodge and the Ronald Mc Donald House. The Winn-Dixie Hope Lodge and the Ronald Mc Donald House events involved playing games like Bingo with the family.

These places housed people from all over the world that were in need of some type of operation or medical treatment for their minor child.

They stayed free of charge at this facility while the child underwent treatment. The Winn-Dixie and the Mc Donald’s corporation started these community service programs.

Sunny27

There are many community service opportunities available. Volunteer Match, for example offers community service projects based on your zip code.

There also virtual opportunities to help nonprofit organizations. This includes setting up a website creating flyers, for example.

Our local community service organization is Hands on Miami. This organization was funded by the United Way and included many family friendly projects.

Some of the community service projects included, “Read to Me” in which you read to toddlers at the Children’s Home Society, an orphanage for abused and neglected children.

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