Doing Community Service with Grandma

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Does your teenager need some extra community service hours? Share this article with them—but 1st see how many teen references you understand!

Summer has come to an end. You're bummed that you have to go back to school, but this year you're a high school senior. You've gotten your own car, and had a blast over the weekend painting a design in your parking spot for the school year. Everything's shaping up to be a cake-walk until your homeroom teacher says two words— “community service.”

Hold up! Before you go moan and groan about the horrendous nature of the world with your friends, listen to Alert1. Volunteering and community service aren't the end of the world.

Wait, Wut?

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So check it. You like your grandparents. You always have a great time hanging out with them.  Your grandma lets you eat three times your body weight in Oreos, and your grandpa lets you trick out his new computer. Spending time with them is never lame, so why should community service have to be? Ask Grandma what she likes to do when she goes to the senior center. Then tell her all about your community service assignment. Before you know it, you'll be behind the wheel of their Oldsmobile headed to Bingo night.

Bingo? Are You for Real?

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What better way to bond with your grandparents than helping out at one of their favorite social events? The senior center staff will love to have you help out for the night. Take a turn spinning the number wheel or announcing the numbers pulled at the mic. The seniors will be happy to see you.

C'mon, It Can't All Be About Bingo

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Ready to get a little more involved? Dive in headfirst by volunteering to help out with errands. For an afternoon, help your grandma's friend Ethel get her errands done. She'll love that you make carrying the 25-pound tub of cat litter and the five gallons of milk look easy. Pick up a pint of Ben & Jerrys® so you’ll have something to enjoy after you put the groceries away.

By now, everyone at the senior center knows that you're available to help out around town. Bert will need help changing the lock on his shed door. Marty can't trim his hedge anymore. Margaret can't put together her bookcase from IKEA®. The list will grow, and you'll have completed the rest of your hours in no time.

Dude, My Grandparents Retired to Florida

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Are your grandparents not in the area? No sweat. Your city will still have a senior center that you can volunteer at. Juiced to help more? Google it. There are nationwide programs run to help deliver hot meals to seniors or to provide senior companionship.

These programs are designed for seniors who don't have any family near them. Check local nursing homes and retirement centers to see if they will let you “adopt” a grandparent.  You'll be able to meet the senior at their home and spend the afternoon visiting with them. You can play board games, see a movie, watch TV together, or just hang out.

The seniors will love having a visit from someone similar in age to their grandkids and you'll start to feel good about this whole do-good thing.

Volunteering on Fleek

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Don't want to limit yourself to devoting afternoons to the same person? We dig it. Offer to teach a class to seniors on computers. Or offer to teach a class on how to use your smart phone. Soon you'll have the seniors sending snaps to their grandkids (the animal filters are going to be everyone's favorite). All the hours you spend in front of a screen will suddenly have purpose. It's a total bonus to see the smiles on seniors' faces when they realize they can talk to their grandkids long distance.

Be Prepared

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Before you jump into volunteering, Alert1 wants you to remember a couple things.

  • Have patience. Seniors are not able to do everything that you're used to doing. Be ready to change plans depending on the situation.

  • Have respect. Know that saying “Respect Your Elders”? Now's the time to remember it.

  • Know that you will have differences. Seniors grew up in a different era, with different values and mindsets. Don't be surprised about your difference in opinions.

Huh, Seniors Aren't So Bad

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By the time graduation is here, you'll have a new found respect for your grandparents and their friends. And you'll have learned a whole lot about how life was back in the “good ol' days.” While you won't want to watch any more re-runs of 'I Love Lucy,' you can still volunteer your time over summer before you head off to college. Your presence will be greatly appreciated and you'll realize that volunteering is a lot more fun than you thought it was.

So when all your friends “can't even” about trying to get their community service done, you can tell them to peace out while you go play chess with Ike down at the senior center.

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