Girl Scouts selling cookies Image: Jennifer Kiernan via Flickr

Girl Scouts selling cookies
Image: Jennifer Kiernan via Flickr

As I strolled out of the grocery store the other day I came to face to face with a group of Girl Scouts selling cookies. Yes, it is that time of year again, and clever they are for selling cookies outside the student dorms around finals week. Stressed spelled backwards is desserts after all.

Seeing these girls freeze their little Ugg boots off in the winter/spring cold brought back some memories for me. Although I was never a girl scout myself, I certainly did my share of fundraising and community service in middle school and high school—often requiring hours outdoors in the cold.

I did everything from canned food drives, where I collected food outside grocery stores to volunteering to play games with the elderly at the retirement home. Back then volunteering was definitely something I found difficult to fit into my schedule amongst all of the homework assignments, projects, and athletic practices and events. There were a lot of benefits to volunteering, however. Looking back, I always left volunteering events feeling like I had accomplished something and had not wasted my time. In fact, these volunteering experiences were fun and gave me the opportunity to get to know other students at my school who were not in my classes—often leading to new friendships.

I’ll never forget dancing on the side of the road with my classmates, in a Halloween costume, holding a car wash sign for a school fundraiser. I will never forget playing charades with the elderly or making gingerbread houses with them.

These events were never a burden, but rather enhanced my middle and high school experience and made me a more well-rounded individual. Better yet, participating in clubs like Builder’s Club, National Honor Society, and others made me want to continue volunteering as I went onto college. This seems to be the case for a lot of people, like Carl Mattone, President of the Mattone Group, who grew up learning the importance of giving back and continues to volunteer his time and donates money to education today

Encouraging kids to start volunteering, to give back, and to donate at a young age is important because the value of philanthropy will stick with them for the rest of their lives. These experiences will enrich not only their lives but also the lives of others through their service. I encourage you to get out and explore the wonderful benefits of volunteering yourself!

To learn more about Carl Mattone, check out his profile here.