TAMPA — For middle school-age kids summer is just around the corner, and there are plenty of ways to spend their time:
Play on Facebook all day.
Order movies and sit on the couch all day.
Stare into the cellphone for at least eight hours.
Volunteer and grab some community service hours that can lead to major interest from colleges once the application process starts.
The Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA is offering its Y Corps program to kids ages 14 to 18. It offers service projects for kids either in or moving into high school. There are four projects offered at a cost of only $20. Kids are encouraged to wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty, because there is a lot of activity going on.
Marilyn Gyselinck, a program coordinator at the Northwest YMCA, said the program is always popular and a great way for kids to earn community service hours.
“What we are trying to do is give the kids a chance to do something active during their summer vacation,” she said. “We have a lot of kids in the National Junior Honor Society who need volunteer hours and it helps them, even as far as when they are applying to college.”
On July 21, volunteers will be working on a beach clean-up project at Honeymoon Island. It’s a full day, but spending time at the beach getting service hours isn’t the worst way to spend a summer day.
“It isn’t only about cleaning the beach,” Gyselinck said. “They get an education on water life and what it means to the beach. It’s an educational day as well as a fun day to clean up the beach.”
On Aug. 1, the Northwest Hills-borough YMCA will be volunteering at the Feeding America Tampa Bay program, helping to make meals to feed the needy. They will work in a warehouse, make sandwiches and food and bring them to families who don’t have the means to get them for themselves.
“The Y Corps does a lot for the people who are hungry and we distribute the food for the families who need it,” Gyselinck said. “It means a lot to them.”
Finally, Aug. 8, the Y Corps will be working with Metropolitan Ministries to organize food distribution.
Gyselinck said the Y Corps team of volunteers is made up partly of kids who are looking to earn community service hours, but mostly of kids who really want to help in the community.
“These kids work hard and are looking to make something out of their summer,” she said. “They can do a lot more than stare at the television.”
For information on volunteering for the Y Corps, call (813) 249-8510.