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Seattle-Area Volunteer Opportunities for Teens, Tweens and Families

Give back to your community by volunteering to help neighbors, animals and the outdoors

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Published on: February 22, 2022


There are an unlimited number of lessons to be learned by lending a hand. Through volunteering programs, tweens and teens can create community connections, learn the importance of giving back and develop essential life skills that will carry over into future careers.

It doesn’t matter whether your teen is already motivated, or they need community service hours for a college application or they’re reluctant to get involved — they’re sure to fall in love with the following programs. 

We’ve compiled a list of fabulous local volunteer opportunities that are eager to engage your tweens and teens. The list is organized by interest: opportunities that help community members, feed neighbors, take care of the outdoors and help animals. Some places still have adjustments in place to their volunteer schedules and requirements due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, and others may have temporarily paused their volunteer programs. Check each organization’s website for the most current information about its volunteer programs. 

Help feed neighbors

Food Lifeline, Seattle

Volunteering duties at Food Lifeline are fun, easy and make a huge difference in the lives of people experiencing hunger. Volunteers must be age 10 or older and masks are mandatory. 

How to get involved: Learn more and register at Food Lifeline.

West Seattle Food Bank, West Seattle

West Seattle Food Bank’s mission is to make sure neighbors don’t go hungry by providing access to safe and nutritious food. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old. Teens can also get involved by participating in a PCC food repackaging party. 

How to get involved: Fill out a volunteer application online

University District Food Bank, Seattle

The University District Food Bank has been helping prevent hunger in Northeast Seattle for nearly 40 years. Youth ages 12-17 are welcome to volunteer, with parental permission. These youth will get started on an initial trail basis, and after the first few shifts, staff will determine if they are a good fit. Kids under 12 years-old are welcome to volunteer with an adult family member. 

How to get involved: Fill out a volunteer interest form online. Volunteer as a family by having the adult fill out the individual volunteer form and indicate that they’d like to bring a child with them. 

FamilyWorks, Seattle

FamilyWorks provides food and services to families in need. High school students can volunteer at the FamilyWorks food bank during school breaks. Teens can also organize a food or clothing drive at their school or in their neighborhood. FamilyWorks requires all volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

How to get involved: View teen-specific volunteering opportunities online.

Northwest Harvest, Kent

Help sort and pack food for Northwest Harvest, which promotes healthy eating while reducing hunger. Volunteers ages 9–15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian; teens ages 16 and older can volunteer independently.

How to get involved: Sign up to be a volunteer online. Note that if you are planning on volunteering alongside your teen, both you and your child need to fill out an application. 

Nourish, Pierce County

Serving food to more than half a million people in Pierce County every year, Nourish Pierce County always needs volunteers to help out! Teens must be age 17 or older to volunteer on their own.

How to get involved: Create an account with Volunteer Up through the Nourish website to sign up for shifts. 

Outdoor opportunities

Seattle Parks and Recreation Teen Service Learning, various locations

Seattle Parks and Recreation provides a wide range of free service opportunities. Teens can help restore trails, repair urban forest land, gain water-safety experience as a lifeguard and more. Teens are expected to be reliable and “proud of the work that they have produced.”  

How to get involved: Volunteer programs are back but they recommend checking the website for any specific changes to your chosen program. See the Seattle Parks and Recreation website for details. Teens are required to provide the necessary paperwork to document community service hours intended for school credit.

Camp Fire, various locations

Teens in eighth grade through high school can volunteer as camp counselors at day camps and overnight camps for younger kids. Counselors help with programming that includes cooking, games, arts and crafts, nature and more.

How to get involved: Counselors must undergo specific training to learn leadership skills and other essentials involved in the job. Learn more about the various camps and training online.

Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, West Seattle

The Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association’s Urban Forest Restoration program welcomes outdoorsy volunteers who are ready to learn new skills and engage in new experiences. Their volunteer opportunities focus on local forest and wetland restoration in West Seattle parks.

How to get involved: Visit the DNDA volunteer page for details. Note that kids under 18 must have a signed waiver before participating. All volunteers age 12 and older must be vaccinated to participate in volunteer events.  

Washington Trails Association, various locations

Washington Trails Association offers tons of outdoor opportunities. By attending a work party, teens can learn leadership and outdoor skills, earn service hours and make new friends — all while spending time outside. Or join a Youth Volunteer Vacation: an opportunity to spend a whole week outdoors while building and maintaining hiking trails.

How to get involved: Join a work party or learn more about the Youth Volunteer Vacation program.

EarthCorps, various locations

Help beautify locations all over the Puget Sound — from Everett to Tacoma — with EarthCorps! Volunteers ages 14–18 are free to volunteer without a parent or guardian as long as that adult completes a waiver for their teen to turn in on the day of the work event.

How to get involved: Sign up for a specific outdoor work event by visiting the volunteer calendar

Update: Earth Corps is currently hosting volunteer events in Tacoma, but all other opportunities are on hold. Check the website for further updates. 

Metro Parks Tacoma, various locations

Sign up for an outdoor work party through the Chip-In program with Metro Parks Tacoma. There are so many parks and gardens that need volunteer work; find a specific park or garden online to view volunteer options.

How to get involved: Register for an upcoming event on the Metro Parks website

Wilderness Awareness School, various locations

Sign up to be a summer camp volunteer with Wildness Awareness School. They are currently looking for volunteers (ages 13–18) who are interested in working with children in the natural environment. Volunteers will assist lead instructors during the Nature Day Camps for one week or more during the summer. All volunteers must be fully vaccinated to participate in youth and adult programs.

How to get involved: Submit your application online and read more about the program on the website. 

Opportunities to help others

City of Bellevue, various locations

Budding thespians might enjoy volunteering at Bellevue Youth Theatre. Or perhaps your teen wants to get involved in community issues through the Youth Link program? Whatever the teen’s style, the City of Bellevue has plenty of options.

How to get involved: Check out the City of Bellevue’s Teen Volunteering page for options, locations and more. 

WestSide Baby, Seattle

Help keep children safe, warm and dry by volunteering for WestSide Baby. Sort donations, bundle diapers, fill orders and more. Teens ages 14 and older can volunteer on their own; children under 14 need a parent to come along.

How to get involved: WestSide Baby hosts Teen Volunteer After School hours and other opportunities; find details on the volunteer page.  WestSide Baby will require all on-site volunteers to show proof of vaccination at the start of their shift, with no exemption. 

Eastside Baby Corner, Issaquah, Northshore and Bremerton

Volunteer opportunities are available for individuals or groups.  They welcome kids ages 12 and up, but young volunteers must be accompanied by an adult.

How to get involved: Sign up forms are available for groups are available on the website. All volunteers must to show proof of vaccination at the start of their shift. 

Jewish Family Service, various locations

Jewish Family Service’s mission is to help vulnerable families achieve “well-being, health and stability.” Volunteer opportunities range from helping with food drives; collecting gloves, socks and coats; and more. Teens are welcome, but volunteers ages 18 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

How to get involved: Volunteer as a family by visiting the website.

Kids Coming Together, Sammamish

Kids Coming Together provides free volunteering opportunities for kids in third grade through high school. Younger ages benefit from guided service activities spearheaded by high school “leaders.” Teenage leaders are there to participate, facilitate and help the younger kids have fun and make new friends.

How to get involved: Visit the Kids Coming Together volunteer page for details.

Swedish Medical Center, various locations

Is your teen considering a career in healthcare? Swedish Medical Center offers volunteer opportunities for teens ages 14–18. Space is limited, but kids are encouraged to apply to be added to the queue.

How to get involved: Fill out the 18-and-under online application

Seattle Public Library, various locations

If your high schooler is a strong student academically, she or he can earn service-learning hours through the Seattle Public Library’s Learning Buddies program. Teens ages 14 and older can help tutor children in grades K–5 in math or reading, while learning communication, patience and time management skills.

How to get involved: Find a program near you by visiting the Seattle Public Library’s Teen Service Learning volunteer page.

Update: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, SPL is currently unable to operate regular volunteer shifts. Check the website for further updates.

Treehouse for Kids, Seattle

Support youth in foster care by volunteering for Treehouse for Kids! High schoolers are free to volunteer without an adult. Tasks include sorting donations, preparing merchandise for the Treehouse Store and more.

How to get involved: Register online.

Update: All volunteers must be vaccinated in order to participate in any in-person volunteer opportunity. Please see the website for more details. 

Wallingford Community Senior Center, Seattle

Teens can build community across generations by volunteering at the Wallingford Community Senior Center.

How to get involved: Connect with older adults by filling out an application online.

Update: The senior center is currently closed for volunteers. 

Opportunities that involve animals

Seattle Aquarium

Through the Seattle Aquarium’s Youth Ocean Advocates program, high school volunteers have the opportunity to participate in ocean conservation projects, including beach cleanups.

How to get involved: Teens need to be currently enrolled in grades 9–12. Spaces are limited and orientation is required. Visit their website for all the details. 

Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle

The primary role of volunteers at Woodland Park Zoo is to engage with guests, but dedicated teens 16 and older should know that existing volunteers have the opportunity to apply for other zoo positions, including roles involved in animal care.

How to get involved: Teens 16 and older can fill out a volunteer application online

Update: They received a record amount of applications during the 2022 recruitment period and cannot accept any more applicants for the remainder of 2022. Info session dates for 2023 will be shared here on December 1, 2022.

Little Bit, Redmond

If you have a horse-obsessed teen 14 or older, send them to Little Bit, a Therapeutic Riding Center serving people with disabilities. Program volunteers help with grooming, tacking, leading horses and supporting riders during class. No previous horse experience is necessary, but program volunteers must commit to a regular 2-hour shift for at least six months. Looking for a shorter commitment? Help out as a Barn Team volunteer! Volunteers must wear masks and provide proof of vaccination. 

How to get involved: Visit Little Bit’s volunteer page for details. 

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma

If your teen loves animals and the environment, encourage them to become a Camp Assistant or Zoo Guide at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Youth Volunteers must be between the ages of 14 and 18. All volunteers must be fully vaccinated. 

How to get involved: View High School Volunteer opportunities online.

The Humane Society, Tacoma and Pierce County

Tacoma and Pierce County teens ages 16 and older can work with animals by volunteering at the Humane Society. This is a six-month commitment, so make sure your teen has the time to give before they fill out an application.

How to get involved: Fill out a volunteer application online. Note: This is a popular opportunity and the Humane Society periodically closes the application process when full.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in March 2020, and updated in November 2022. 

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