Split time

Students should try to make their hours count instead of just counting their hours.

My church group and I spent three weeks in South Africa, performing plays about the gospel and helping set up youth groups to teach about religion. We also taught children about HIV/AIDS and how to prevent it last summer.

This was not just a one-day or one-week project; it was a project that had been planned for the better part of a year. Although it’s been nearly three months since the team has left South Africa, the groups continue to teach children about the Bible while educating them about safe sex. For several weeks students were complaining about having to get hours for NHS and even a few saying that they were kicked out of NHS for not having enough hours. Then also hearing that students were just getting hours from a handful of places and just doing the bare minimum of hours to not to get kicked out.

Why do service organizations such as NHS, Key club, and Interact club only require a set number of hours that can be gathered from anywhere the student feels like volunteering? It doesn’t matter if you have four hours at Harvesters sorting food, three hours participating in a river clean up, seven hours leading a youth camp and six hours of lawn care for a disabled neighbor. There’s nothing wrong with doing any of these projects. What is wrong is splitting time between these projects. When you split time between projects you can miss opportunities to help those that you are getting your hours from. Instead of just putting in the one to two hours it takes to help your elderly neighbor with yard work you could make it your project continually help that neighbor with any house work that they are not able to do.

Instead of splitting time between several projects why not decide which project you are most interested in and investing all of your time into that one project? Having a project that lasts for a semester or even a whole year could be beneficial to the students in the organizations by showing them the level of commitment and pre-planning it takes to organize and keep an extended service project going.

At the start of the year or semester, each student could present one or two extended projects, such as volunteering to help repair houses for people who can’t afford to hire someone or lead youth groups or help lead a youth camp. Time split between several service projects is not wasted time. Students are still getting the benefits of service hours but having one or two extended service projects could greatly benefit students by exposing them to the extra effort it takes to organize these types of projects and letting them see the end result of their projects.