Given there are currently a lot of issues plaguing society, if you’re wanting your child to develop a deeper level of empathy and community service, volunteering is a great option.

Year 11 student, Chelsea Oliver, started volunteering at One Meal: It Makes a Difference in Sydney’s Blacktown when she was just 13.

“Once a week on weekends I hand out meals, food items, drinks, groceries, fruits and vegetables, toiletries and sanitary items to people in the Western Sydney area in need, which I find greatly rewarding,” the 16-year-old says.

Chelsea is also a popular model and currently one of the top 30 finalists in the 2021 Australian Supermodel of the Competition. This year, the competition is also looking for participants to be aspiring role models for young girls and women.

“I think it is very important for young girls to be good role models. Being able to lift other girls up and support others brings so much happiness as well as a sense of belonging. It’s important to inspire those around you to be the best they can be and show respect. All people should strive to be role models doing good deeds for the community and those around them.”

Here Chelsea gives her tips on how kids can go about volunteering.

Start volunteering young

“I started volunteering at 13 and I’ve now gotten to know everyone at the service – both other volunteers and patrons – really well, everyone is so nice. It’s now just a part of my life that I look forward to. We also socialise with the patrons and talk with them as many of them are very lonely – it’s very important to treat all people with respect and no judgement. For me, volunteering gives me a great sense of accomplishment. I feel like I’ve helped people and it’s very rewarding to know you’ve made a difference to someone’s day or life.”


Be inspired by your parents

“Both of my parents started off volunteering with One Meal. They wanted my brother and I to also volunteer to teach us to be grateful for what we have, and to see that there are people with many different standards of living out there in our community. Mum would always speak about how much she enjoyed doing it. This did actually inspire me to start going along with her each week and also help her throughout the week preparing meals. We originally used to just volunteer once a month but that increased to be more regular visits for the past one and a half years.”

Choose a cause that you are really interested in

“I was mostly interested in helping those in need and also the homeless because I wholeheartedly believe everyone should have access to essential things. I believe we all have a right to shelter, food and clothing. Whether you’re interested in helping people, the environment or animals, its so amazing to be involved in a cause you’re passionate about.”

Push yourself out of your comfort zone

“Teen life is usually about school, studying and socialising with friends. So, it’s very nice to do something different than the norm. We often have young people who are struggling attend our service and it is satisfying to pass on clothing to them and just to talk to them and make them a little happier.”

Start developing a wider perspective on the world

“Volunteering at One Meal has helped me think more deeply about issues. I really believe people living in a country like Australia shouldn’t be homeless and hungry. I also now want to work with ethical brands and companies in my modelling career. I’m currently working with a range of ethical businesses including World of Jass, Derby Jeans Community, TS Suites, Uluwatu Handmade Balinese Lace and Saba Hair Parramatta, who all are big supporters of sustainability. This is also important to me as I’ve learnt from volunteering and through the mentoring program of the supermodel competition that sustainability is so important and that we need to create positive changes for the community and the planet we live in right now and in the future.”

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  • Great article. We could all do more to help out those less fortunate


  • I’d love to see my teens do this in the future.


  • Very inspiring!


  • Lovely article


  • Having empathy for others is so important.


  • So valuable for kids to develop skills and empathy through volunteering


  • Volunteering is so important for communities. Volunteers do such an incredible job.


  • Another inspiring story !
    How good that her volunteering parents knew how to encourage both Chelsea and her brother.
    Supporting other people, helping them and showing respect brings so much happiness to them and yourself indeed as well as a sense of belonging.


  • Such a good idea to teach kids young about community and how to give back

    • It is indeed good to start community participation at a young age.


  • I used to volunteer at Vinnies.
    Once a week I’d go into the store for the day and help out with floor stock.
    Also each year hubby and I buy pet food, toys and bowls for the local shelter during Christmas as we are big animal lovers.
    It’s definitely nice to do something for your local community so hopefully our kids want to do the same.

    • Very good Frankiielot, you & your husband set the right example for your kids


  • I would love for my daughter to be involved in the community as she grows up so I make a point of volunteering for things when I can


  • A lot can be learnt from volunteering. Although it’s a bit hard now when things become close to normal again I’d love to take my kids out and help others.


  • Not the best time to be starting volunteering, but I agree that in more normal times it’s a great thing to do.


  • Well done for teenagers to be involved in some of the volunteering and helping.


  • This is a fantastic idea for kids and teens to get into. Opening their eyes to how others are living etc.


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