Taylor Swift has joined forces with CMT One Country and Youth Service America to help motivate youth for the largest volunteering event in the world, National & Global Youth Service Day, being held Friday through Sunday (April 20-22).
“You can use something that you love to do and help people with it,” Swift says. “There are things that you can do to help out in your community and it makes such a difference.”
Here, the 17-year-old singer-songwriter explains why she’s taking a stand, when she first got involved in volunteering and how it changed her life.
Find volunteering opportunities in your community through CMT One Country.
CMT: Why did you sign up as spokesperson for National & Global Youth Day?
Swift: I’ve always been really passionate about volunteering. … I started volunteering when I was about 12 years old, and I didn’t really know I was volunteering at the time. That’s the cool part about volunteering — you don’t have to use any money. It doesn’t cost anything except your time.
I think I started volunteering when I was 12. Both my grandparents came down with cancer, so I spent every day over the course of probably six months in the hospital after school. I would bring my guitar to school and take it to the hospital after school and play music for them. I found that when I was playing music for my grandparents, it seemed like it distracted them from the pain for that three and a-half minutes. So I would start walking up and down the halls of the hospital and play for anybody in the oncology ward who wanted to hear music. I saw a lot of things and was touched because I played for people literally while they were getting their chemo.
Do you think young people are willing to find the time to volunteer? Do you think they can be passionate about it?
There are so many distractions in the modern day. Maybe instead of sleeping an extra six hours that morning — sleeping until 4 p.m. — maybe go out and do something and help out. It seems like it’s little. It seems like it’s not making a huge difference, but if everybody comes together for something, it will be a big difference.
Was volunteering a life-changing experience for you?
When I started volunteering, it was a life-changing experience because since then I’ve gone out of my way to accept concert offers from the Army, St. Jude’s and so many different societies. I used to play every year at this 9/11 summer camp — every kid there lost a parent in 9/11. There are so many different places that need help and so many different organizations that could use an extra pair of hands. Yeah, it definitely changed my life when I started volunteering because it’s easy to get stuck in your own little world. If you think that your day is hard, try living somebody else’s life. That’s what volunteering has done for me. It’s given me a better outlook on things.
Tim Hardiman is a producer for CMT Insider.