A community service society is a non-profit organization or club with the purpose of benefiting the community through volunteer charitable efforts. Often community service societies select a few specific areas on which to focus their efforts, and try to help both with hands-on volunteering and fundraising efforts. These groups can range in size from large international organizations to small, local town-based clubs, and some are for adults while others are geared for young people. In addition to performing charitable work, many of these societies provide a social outlet for members as well.
The members of a community service society are often united by their desire to help particular charities and causes. They are non-profit organizations and members do not receive any compensation for participation. Most members are motivated by the desire to "give back" and assist those less fortunate than themselves. There is also a growing trend of community service requirements for graduation from high school and college, with the goal of producing more productive well-rounded citizens.
The typical community service society selects a few specific areas on which to focus charitable efforts. This can be in response to identified needs in the local community, or in the case of long established groups, established by tradition. For example, a local community service society may decide to focus on providing enrichment opportunities for the area's young people. A chapter of an established international organization, such as the Lions Club, may focus some of their efforts on a specific area. In the case of the Lions Club, it is to provide vision services and eyeglasses for the underprivileged.
There is a lot of variation in the size and scope of community service societies. There are many international service organizations, such as Lions Club, Rotary, Kiwanis and others. These groups have smaller clubs called chapters in communities all over the world; some of them have junior branches for young people and may offer scholarships for teens who are involved in community service. There are also countless smaller organizations at the local level for both adults and young people. Examples include local community service societies that build and maintain parks and playgrounds for citizens to enjoy, or run food pantries, toy drives, and collect clothing donations for the less fortunate.
In addition to performing charitable work, community service societies usually provide a social outlet for the members. They usually hold regularly scheduled meetings that give members a chance to get to know one another. They may hold social events such as annual picnics and holiday parties for members as well. Often, participants become acquainted with people they wouldn't have met otherwise, and may find opportunities for professional networking among members.