By tamaraIf you are a student who volunteers at school or in your community, you already know that helping others is its own reward. Nothing feels better than to help those who may be a little down on their luck or to bring a little laughter to child who is battling cancer. A smile or a hug is worth more than any money you could earn flipping burgers at the local fast food joint. Although volunteer work is not always the most glamorous, you have the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, and know that you are making a difference in your community. Community service can also help you land a job and get into college. With all these benefits, there really should be no reason why you wouldn’t want to volunteer, but if you still need some incentive, here’s one – scholarships! You may not get paid upfront to donate your time, but all those hours could result in some free money for college. Here are just a few of the programs you may be eligible to win. 1. Shut Up & Sweat Scholarship If you are a student athlete who volunteers, be sure to check out this $2,000 scholarship. You’ll need a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and must be attending college this fall. Deadline: August 1. 2. The Christopher Reeve Award Are you like Superman, always swooping in to help others? If so, your courage and compassion may be rewarded with a $1,000 scholarship. Middle school and high school students are eligible to apply. Deadline: October 31. 3. Prudential Spirit of Community Award Prudential awards several scholarships, valued between $1,000 and $5,000 each, to students (5th through 12th grade) who have volunteered in the last 12 months. The next application period opens in September, so there’s still time to squeeze in a few volunteer hours before you apply! Deadline: November (TBD). 4. Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarships If you are currently involved in volunteer activities that help end hunger in your community and/or the United States, be sure to check out this $5,000 scholarship. Five winners will be selected and it’s open to anyone in kindergarten through graduate school. Deadline: December 5. 5. Good Deeds Scholarship Have you been thinking about volunteering, but just haven’t found the time to do it? This scholarship rewards you for simply having the desire to help out others. Submit a short essay about how you will make a positive impact and you could win $1,000. Deadline: December 31. 6. Sophia L. Gokey Scholarship Do you remember Danny Gokey from American Idol? This scholarship was established in his wife’s name after she passed away. If you have a grade point average of 2.75 or higher, participate in community service, and have faced a significant roadblock or setback in your life, this $1,000 scholarship may be perfect for you. Deadline: January 2014 (TBD). 7. Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program Kohl’s offers one of the largest scholarship programs for students who volunteer. To be eligible, you must be between the ages of 6 and 18 and have volunteered within the last 12 months. Prizes range in value from a $50 gift card (store winners) to a $10,000 scholarship (national winners). Deadline: March 2014 (TBD). 8. Angie Houtz Memorial Scholarship Fund Are you planning to attend a Maryland college or university? Have you completed over 200 hours of community service? If so, you may want to check out this scholarship program. Awards range in value from $1,000 to $3,000 each. Deadline: April 2014 (TBD). Don’t forget to check with your local nonprofit and civic groups, as many offer smaller scholarships and cash prizes to students who perform community service with their organizations. Many colleges also provide scholarships to those who demonstrate a significant interest in helping others. If you need some ideas or don’t know where to find volunteer opportunities in your area, check out VolunteerMatch.org. Your next service project could be the ticket to free college money!