I have to admit that when I was younger, volunteering was at the bottom of my to-do list. I envisioned hours of hard labor for no pay and used every excuse possible to get out of committing to any charity work. Then, I became a member of Phi Theta Kappa and my world was changed forever. Although Phi Theta Kappa is an honor society, much of its work centers on service. It only took one project and I was hooked. I enjoyed helping others so much that I soon began creating my own service projects for our chapter and encouraged other students to get involved, too. It felt great helping people and I learned that a smile from a sick child or a hug from a woman battling cancer was worth more than any paycheck I could possibly earn. In fact, I was having so much fun that within a year I accumulated over 500 community service hours and soon found out that giving back has other rewards, too. I received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, made the All-Florida and All-USA Academic Team, and won several scholarships, too. If you volunteer, here are just a few of the scholarships that may be available to you.
This scholarship honors students who have shown leadership and courage in developing and implementing an extraordinary service project for their community. The project must clearly benefit other people, animals or the environment. Students who are between the ages of 8 and 18 are eligible to apply. A total of 10 scholarships, valued at $2,500 each, will be provided. Deadline: April 30.
Wisconsin undergraduate students, who have been involved with 4-H for a year or more, may be eligible for this award. Students must demonstrate a commitment to community service and have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher. Two awards, valued at $750 each, will be provided. Deadline: April 30.
The Nordstrom Scholarship Program recognizes students across the country for their exceptional scholastic achievement and community involvement. Students must be high school juniors and reside in a state where Nordstrom’s has a full-line store. A total of 80 scholarships, valued at $10,000 each, will be offered. Deadline: May 1.
Current undergraduate students, who have a bleeding disorder and participate in volunteer service, are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Finalists may be asked to participate in an interview prior to winners being selected. A minimum of 20 awards, valued between $500 and $2,500 each, will be provided. Deadline: May 1.
U.S. middle school or high school students, who have demonstrated tremendous courage, compassion and caring through service to their community, may be eligible for this award. Students must be nominated by a nonrelative to be considered. One $1,000 scholarship will be offered. Deadline: October 31.
Each spring (January through March), the Kohl’s Kids Who Care Scholarship is awarded to students between the ages of 6 and 18. Students are nominated based on their volunteer service and have the opportunity to win a $50 gift card, a $1,000 regional award and/or a $10,000 national scholarship. Another well-known service-based scholarship is the Prudential Spirit of Community Award (November 2013). Students in grades 5 through 12, who have participated in a community service project within the last year, are eligible to compete for several state ($1,000) and national ($5,000) scholarships.
Although it is nice to be recognized for your efforts, especially with college scholarships, volunteer service is its own reward; you’ll gain self-esteem, learn to work with others, take on leadership roles and make new friends along the way. The time you give to others may also provide opportunities for future employment and will look great on a college application. I only wish that I realized sooner that helping others feels so darn great!
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