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Start by Being Smart!
Here are some smart volunteering tips to consider before you start any ZOOM Into Action project. Also, please take time to think about additional safety concerns that may be specific to your community and project.
Ask an adult to join you
It's your project, but you may need an adult to help you do things like make phone calls or get you to the place where you're volunteering. Find a parent, a neighbor, a group leader, or teacher to work with you.
Make a schedule and list the steps you need to take. Projects that have plans work out best.
Get in the know
Learn about who or what you are helping. If you volunteer for an organization that has a training class, take it.
Think about what "being helpful" is all about. Were there times when other people helped you? What made you feel good about being helped? Remember that helping works in both directions—everyone gains something, including you the volunteer.
What would it be like to be the person being helped? How would it feel to be in his or her shoes? Learn all you can to be aware of the needs of others.
If you say you are going to do something, follow through and do it. If you get stuck, ask for help.
Getting a busy signal?
Volunteer coordinators are often busy, so they may not call you back right away. Be persistent—keep calling.
Be a problem solver
Get creative when things don't go your way. Be flexible. Talk to people and use your imagination to come up with solutions.
If you volunteer for a group or an organization, follow the directions the leader gives you. Ask questions if something is confusing.
If you are collecting things in your neighborhood, bring an adult and visit the houses of people you already know. If a stranger asks for your help, find an adult to help the person. Don't try to help by yourself.
Protect your privacy
Do not share personal information, like your phone number, address, school name, or e-mail address, with anyone you don't know without your parent's permission.
It is OK to say "no" if someone asks you to do something that seems wrong or scary.
Keep a journal
Write down what you're doing, how you feel, and what you learn as you volunteer. You can even take pictures, draw, talk into a tape recorder, or make a video.
Chances are, your volunteer project was a success because other people helped you. Remember to thank them.
Volunteering helps you meet new people, learn new things, and feel good about making the world a better place.
Make volunteering more than a one-time event. You may want to work on the same project again or find new ways to help.
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