This Holiday Season, Give the Gift of Time

Many people feel sentimental during the holiday season and think about what they can give back to their community. This is a wonderful time of year to remember, and be thankful for, what we have and also remember that some people are less fortunate and do not have the same opportunities. Many people give material gifts or gifts of money, which are great to have and make people very happy, but giving the gift of time can be equally as good, if not better in some cases.


Each and every high school student who attends public school in California must complete a minimum number of hours of community service in order to graduate (READ: “Ring in the New Year With Philanthropy in the Community“). One of the best ways that high school students can give the gift of time is to participate in peer tutoring – use your private Orange County tutor from TutorNerds as an example. There are many students right here in San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles counties who need help with basic subjects. Public schools can help match high school students with an elementary or middle school student who needs help with English or math. If you happen to be getting A’s in any of your core subjects, or if you happen to be talented in another subject, please inquire with one of your teachers at school as to how you might be able to give the gift of your time.

Offer To Help

Students who do not want to make a long-term commitment or who have already fulfilled their community service hours should consider giving the gift of time to a friend. Students, who are perhaps very good at history, may notice someone in their class who is often confused or unable to answer questions asked by the teacher (READ: “Getting Your Community Service Credits“). Why not contribute to your local community by inviting this person into your study group or offering to help them after school for one hour a week? Helping somebody achieve a higher grade is a gift that keeps on giving. Many high school students are using current technology or self-regulation to help themselves stay organized but I bet most students know at least one classmate who always seems to be running late, handing assignments in late or who is simply not remembering things.

During our teen years, our minds are growing and it’s very difficult to remember left brain details, such as due dates and assignment details (READ: “A Letter to My High School Self“). Students who wish to help on an informal level can also give the gift of organization. Simply offering to help your friend or classmate organize their schedule and their binder, and help them record their due dates is a beautiful gift. Texting a group of friends with a reminder that an assignment is due only takes two minutes, but it can save those friends and classmates a lot of hassle in their academic environment.

Consider Teaching English

Students who would like to use their community service hours and receive official recognition should go through an appropriate charitable organization or through their school and make sure that the activities are preapproved to count for credit. One of the biggest issues we have here in Southern California is literacy and English language learning (READ: “ESL Study Tips“). Although math is also important, numbers are numbers in any language while the thousands of words in the English language are all foreign to students who speak a different language in their household. Working with younger students to read books, help them sound out new words, learn to write appropriately, and work on more advanced skills such as grammar and punctuation, is something that will make a difference for that child’s entire life.

It’s not necessary for student volunteers to want to go into the field of teaching or philanthropy in order to help young members of their community. However, it’s a great way for any student to fulfill their community service hours while simultaneously making a difference.

Happy Holidays!

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