Building compassion

Summer vacation often commences with a binge on all the time-killers that were forbidden during the school year — Facebook, texting, and TV. It can be a self-centered time, and parents may be at a loss as to how to direct their child’s attention outwardly. Volunteering is one way parents can instill a giving attitude and provide education about community needs.

“The number one reason I believe young adults should get involved by volunteering is to better understand the community,” said Bryan Wynn, volunteer coordinator at United Way of Greater Toledo. “Another thing about volunteering at a young age is that it’s a very humbling experience. A lot of kids are kind of wrapped up in themselves, so to regroup and help those who are less fortunate is a very humbling experience.”

Wynn says even though some volunteering tasks may feel mundane to tweens, their impact on the community at large is still significant. “They’re not just throwing some bags here and sorting some clothes there,” he says, “What they’re doing is really helping and providing benefit to other individuals who are less fortunate.” Parents and tweens can talk to volunteer coordinators at organizations like United Way to help find opportunities that best fit their interests. Some volunteering your child may be able to do on his or her own, while other placements require parents to participate alongside. Here’s a list of opportunities to get families started on their search for a good cause. 

United Way Ambassador Project

Volunteers can read to pre-school children at the Catholic Club, 1601 Jefferson Ave., on some Tuesdays in June and July, or pack senior food boxes at Toledo Seagate Food Bank, 526 High St. on Sat., July 7 or Sat., Aug. 4. from 9 am to noon. Visit for details or call Holly Ball, volunteer coordinator, at 419-254-4708.

Toledo Area Humane Society

Animal-lovers may find their passion helping four-legged friends in need. The Toledo Area Humane Society relies heavily on volunteers, and welcomes junior volunteers between the ages of 10 and 16. Volunteers are asked to sign up for at least 10 hours per month for six months, and need to complete an online application with an adult who plans to volunteer with them. There is a three-hour orientation for those who are accepted. Contact Mary Moser, director of volunteers, at 419-891-1561 or visit

The Toledo Library

The library’s Volunteen program offers training for tweens as young as 12 who want to offer their help. Mandatory training sessions give young adults confidence before they begin their duties, and are available until June 13. Potential volunteens can select the branch where they’d like to help out. Visit to complete a registration form and gather more information.

The Toledo Zoo

For future zoologists and kids passionate about conservation the ZOOTeen program is a chance to give back in an educational environment. They can gain public-speaking skills and leadership qualities by serving as guides for zoo visitors. The program is offered year-round to kids ages 13 to 17. There is a one-time fee of $40 upon acceptance (scholarships are available to help with the cost). While they’re no longer accepting applications for the summer 2012 program, young adults can apply to qualify for programs during other seasons. E-mail for more information. 


Hospitals often run special programs catering to younger volunteers.Visit the Mercy Health Partners’ website at or Promedica at to match your family with the right opportunity at one of the network hospitals.

Create your own cause

Another option is to go out into your neighborhood and find ways to help. Assisting elderly neighbors in cutting their lawns or washing their cars or organizing a group of friends to do a playground cleanup are just some of many available ways to pitch in.