TAMPA, Fla. — Teenagers across Tampa Bay certainly deserve a relaxing summer break, but local nonprofits are hoping students spare some time for much-needed volunteer work.
Oasis Opportunities provides clothing and hygiene items for 11,000 at-risk youth throughout Hillsborough County every year, yet they only have three people on staff. The rest is up to volunteers.
“I think it’s important to remember that families struggle all year round,” said Executive Director Dawn Schulman.
The nonprofit is already gathering and organizing supplies for the start of the next school year. They realize there are a bunch of teens with plenty of free time on their hands over the next few months.
“I’m not doing a whole lot anyway so if I can help people out it beats sitting around at home all day, it's that or screen time, I might as well be here you know,” said 17-year-old Ethan Wetterling.
Wetterling stops by a couple of hours a week to sort and store donations. He said it’s one of the best parts of the summer.
“It keeps you active, it keeps you thinking, keeps you working, keeps your body in shape, keeps you feeling good about yourself,” said Wetterling.
Oasis Opportunities said it’s the kind of learning experience you don’t receive during the school year.
“Maybe not having a pair of shoes to walk to school in, that’s something that a lot of us take for granted, that a lot of teens take for granted, and it gives teens, when they volunteer here, an opportunity to see what they can give back, what other people give back,” said Wetterling.
Teenagers can even bring a whole new outlook to the way the organization is run.
“They have gifts and talents that some of us on staff don’t have for instance making social media posts,” said Schulman.
Wetterling hopes to see more of his peers working alongside him later this summer.
“It’s something to do, it’s fun, it’s fun to come out here and try something new, I really enjoy it and I think they’ll enjoy it too,” said Wetterling.
For more information go to www.oasisopportunities.org.