Got Hours? Volunteering 101

Brielle Allison

Students at Gaither High School are wondering about volunteering.  In the following Q&A session with Gaither High School’s Katheryn Branham, the college and career counselor, all aspects of volunteering are covered. See below for answers to some volunteer questions students may have. 

What is volunteering?

  • “Volunteering is based in community service, you’re helping out your community through nonprofit organizations.” 

What are volunteer hours?

  • “You’re helping out in the community, logging the hours you did, and reporting it to guidance [for the Bright Futures Scholarship].”

Who is in charge of volunteer hours at Gaither? 

  • “I’m Mrs. Branham, and I’m Gaither High School’s College and Career Counselor. I approve all of the volunteering proposal sheets and submit the logged hours to Bright Futures.”

“What is the Bright Futures Scholarship?”

  • “The Bright Futures Scholarship is a scholarship to help pay for students’ tuition in Florida schools, and volunteer hours are a requirement for the scholarship. There are two levels. The Florida Academic Scholarship, a student needs to complete and log 100 community service hours. For the Florida Medallion Scholarship, a student needs to complete and log 75 community service hours.”

“Why do students need to get volunteer hours? / Why do students need to submit volunteer hours for Bright Futures?”

  • “The volunteer hours are useful for the Bright Futures Scholarship, other scholarships that universities offer, and college admissions applications.”

“How do students log the Bright Futures Community service hours?”

  • “To log their volunteer hours for Bright Futures, students need to first pick up a volunteer proposal application form from Guidance and fill it out. Because Bright Futures has certain requirements for what is considered “volunteering”, they need to get the proposal approved and signed off on by me before the hours are completed. (Keep in mind that for the hours to qualify for Bright Futures, they need to be completed outside of school. Before or after school is okay.) Then, students can volunteer at the sites they chose, and they can log their hours on a Bright Futures volunteer form. They need to get a signature from a reputable source – someone at the site who is overseeing volunteering – to make sure that the hours are completed correctly. After that, the completed form can be turned back into me, and I can submit the hours to Bright Futures.” 

“How many volunteer hours do students need? [I’ve heard 100 is a good number.]”

  • “I would definitely recommend at least 100 volunteer hours. Again, volunteer hours are a good thing to put on an academic profile for college applications.” 

“How do students find out about volunteer hours?”

  • “There is an Edsby page, GHS Community Service Opportunities. I post about volunteer opportunities in the community, all things I get from local organizations that need help.”

“What are some local organizations that need volunteers?”

  • “Some local organizations that need volunteers are the YMCA, the Humane Society, and Metropolitan Ministries. In general, all nonprofit organizations normally need volunteers.”  

“How do students sign up for local community service opportunities?”

  • “Students would need to contact the organization directly for more information about community service opportunities, and to sign up for volunteering. A lot of information about how to contact local organizations is located on the GHS Community Service Opportunities page.” 

“Do Gaither clubs provide volunteer hours?” 

  • “Yes, some GHS clubs do provide volunteer opportunities, like the Humane Society Club, and some require volunteer hours to maintain membership. However, hours going towards Bright Futures still need to be proposed and logged properly.” 

“When is the cutoff date for seniors to submit their volunteer hours?”

  • “Seniors’ last day to submit their volunteer hours for Bright Futures is the day before Graduation Day, that Friday. I will not accept volunteer hours at graduation. I recommend that students turn in their forms a few weeks beforehand if possible, to ensure that they can get their hours submitted correctly and on time. You’re [seniors are] going to want to have time to fix things if needed, and it’ll be a lot less stressful.” 

“What are any recommendations you have for the volunteering and form-filling-out process? Any common mistakes that can be avoided?” 

  • “I recommend that students keep a copy of their proposal form and their completed volunteer hours sheet for personal records and proof of turn-in. The biggest mistakes made on Bright Futures forms are that students don’t put their names on the forms, students don’t put the actual number of hours volunteered on the forms, and overall, students leave blank spaces on the forms – they don’t fill it out completely.” 

Through volunteering, students have the opportunity to collaborate and connect with their communities. Volunteering is also something that is highly reviewed by colleges and can open up scholarship opportunities.

Bright Futures service hour proposal forms are located in the guidance office.