Some teens may choose to befriend the elderly, others may choose to sweep up clipped dog hair at a shelter or maybe even serve up a few meals at a soup kitchen, but for Carrollwood Day School senior John Frost Jr., the opportunity to rack up volunteer hours started with a family legacy and became a life-changing experience.
Inside the Ronald McDonald House near Tampa General Hospital, Frost polishes, mops, cleans and lends a helping hand to keep the facility neat for the families who come to stay while their loved ones are being treated in the hospital.
Frost has taken part in Ronald McDonald House Charities' Teen Volunteer Program for the past four summers.
On weekdays, students are scheduled to work in pairs with two-hour shifts, spending the time assisting residents by doing normal household chores so they can be at the hospital with their ill family members. While some kids may scoff at the idea of spending their summer vacations cleaning up after other people, Frost finds it rewarding.
Frost said his favorite thing about volunteering at the home is being able to let the families be close with their children without having to worry about cooking or cleaning everything up.
"It always seems to be fun," Frost said. "It's nice knowing you can be helping families who need to be paying attention to their families' needs."
This school soccer team center defender got involved with the house because of a long family history. Frost's grandfather, Jack Frost, is an owner-operator of numerous McDonald's restaurants in the area. His uncle, Chris Frost, is the liaison for the Tampa Bay McDonald's Marketing Co-Op and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay, for which he also serves as a member of the board of trustees. Grandmother DeDe volunteers at the house, and Frost says he hopes his younger sister will be volunteering this summer.
The desire to volunteer may be in Frost's genes, but it's his personal hands-on experience that spurs him to keep helping.
In September, Frost took a trip to the Dominican Republic where he taught English to first- through fifth-graders. His favorite part, he said, was "just being able to live like the locals and discover the culture."
Carrollwood Day School requires a minimum of 150 volunteer hours for graduating seniors, beginning the summer after their sophomore year, but with his hard work and dedication, Frost has already racked up more than 250 skill-building, character-creating, college-application-essay-worthy work hours.
Now that he's a senior, Frost has a few choices to make about his future. Though he's considering the University of Florida, Auburn University and Georgia Tech, there's one thing he's sure about: He wants to continue to volunteer. He plans to return during breaks and summers to continue his work at Ronald McDonald House and also while he's at school.
"I hope there is a house near my college," he said.