For Many Americans, the holiday season is the perfect time to volunteer. Some people prepare or serve Thanksgiving meals at soup kitchens. Some take part in turkey trot races and other kinds of fund-raisers for charity, or collect and donate winter coats for homeless people.
But for many students, community service isn’t just a holiday activity. An increasing number of middle and high schools now require students to serve a certain number of volunteer hours before they can graduate. And some parents insist that their kids do volunteer work year-round—even if it’s not mandatory at school.
Why all the emphasis on getting teens to give back? Volunteering can have important benefits, such as learning new skills, building compassion, and becoming a more responsible citizen. Some people, though, say those advantages are lost when students are forced to volunteer. Also, many teens don’t have the time.