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Volunteering: Labour of love

<p>This summer, Siddharth Kaul is hanging out with 6- and 7-year-olds, helping them paint and make plaster masks and organizing activities like obstacle courses.</p>

Students enjoy giving back to community



CARLOS OSORIO/TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE


After volunteering at The Brimley-Lawrence Animal Clinic, Caitlyn Hryhorchuk, 16, has decided she wants to become a veterinary technician.





“It’s mostly the inner feeling, the satisfaction of helping others.”— Siddharth Kaul, volunteer



This summer, Siddharth Kaul is hanging out with 6- and 7-year-olds, helping them paint and make plaster masks and organizing activities like obstacle courses.


Every week, he learns something new about art, and every day, he learns how to better communicate with children.


He has found volunteering offers him more than just the mandatory 40 hours of community service he needs to graduate from high school.


It also him offers more than something to add to his resumé.


“It’s mostly the inner feeling, the satisfaction of helping others,” he said.




CARLOS OSORIO/TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE


Siddharth Kaul enjoying volunteering his time at the Art Gallery of Ontario.



Even though Kaul, 16, is old enough to work, and has already volunteered for more than 70 hours with the Art Gallery of Ontario, he still offers his time to the kids at the gallery’s summer camp and plans on returning next year.


Thousands of teenagers have peeled away from televisions and computers to volunteer this summer, and they’re not just doing it because their parents told them to.


Students like Kaul are simultaneously building their resumés, giving back to the community, and having fun.


Debra Gardner, executive director of the Volunteer Centre of Toronto, says volunteer options for students in Greater Toronto are endless.


“It’s like a buffet of opportunities. Start at the beginning and eat your way through,” she said. Her organization works with more than 300 charities and non-profit groups in the Greater Toronto Area. Volunteer positions are posted online.


And people of all ages can search through numerous listings to suit specific interests and needs.


Gardner’s organization works with more than 2,500 volunteers a year. The 2004 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering, and Participating found 45 per cent of Canadians older than 15 volunteered with charities and non-profit organizations.


Youth ages 15-24 had the highest rate of volunteerism with 55 per cent of the group engaging in community service.


Gardner thinks this number is remarkable but adds there can never be enough volunteers.


Students like Kaul can spend their summers volunteering with a variety of organizations, like the AGO, that welcomes up to 75 student volunteers this summer through its Teens Behind the Scenes program.


At the Harbourfront Centre, students return each summer to volunteer with the weekly festivals, such as the Milk International Children’s Festival.


The Canadian National Exhibition also recently sought teen volunteers for areas such as customer service. Geoffrey Wilson, 19, is part of the YMCA’s Youth Leadership Core, a leaderin- training program in which he helps promote various YMCA events for youth, once a week.


Wilson says he’s gained more from the experience than he’d expected and now wants to study social work.


Caitlyn Hryhorchuk, wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she was older. In search of a career path, Hryhorchuk, 16, volunteered at The Brimley-Lawrence Animal Clinic in Scarborough, where she now works.


“It was awesome, I got to help out with the animals and learned about medicines for dogs and cats,” said Hryhorchuk, who now has her plans made to become a veterinary technician.


 
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