St. Joseph’s/Candler in Savannah is accepting applications for its summer Mary A. Kelly Youth Volunteer Program. The seven- to nine-week program allows up to 25 high school students at Candler Hospital and up to 12 students at St. Joseph’s Hospital to volunteer and get hands-on experience working in a hospital.

The opportunity is open to students in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.

Students must be at least 14 years of age or older by June 1 and be entering the ninth grade or higher to qualify. In addition, they must have a GPA of at least 80%.

The program runs June 1-July 31.

Each applicant is required to set an appointment with Holly M. Weiss, St. Joseph’s/Candler Director of Volunteer Services to turn in their application packet. Parents are discouraged from making the appointment because, Weiss said, she wants the students to be more involved in the process. Students that are accepted will have to attend an orientation in May where they will discuss the program and what department they may be interested in volunteering.

“Each year I become a little bit more and more strict on the application process,” she said. “In the past, I would allow parents to do everything, like making the appointment and explain on behalf of their child why they want to be there. Now, I make the students make their own appointments and speak with me about their interest in this program. This allows me to get to know the student more and to make sure they are wanting to actually be there and not forced by their parents or the people around them.”

For the application, students will provide basic information such as the name of their school, GPA, names of guardians, schedule, and a recommendation letter from someone who is not related to them.

Students will volunteer up to three days a week from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Students should be available at least seven of the nine weeks. Failure to show during the scheduled time could result in losing the position.

Each volunteer will have the opportunity to choose which services they are interested in providing.

“It all depends on the student’s interest. I don’t list their options because it changes every year, depending on where help is and is not needed. Some students may work at the front desk or on a nursing floor, while others are in the emergency room. It really just all depends,” Weiss said.

Returning students are not required to reapply, they are invited back (if they completed the required seven of the nine weeks the prior summer) until they graduate from high school.

Applications are accepted until April 30. For more information, contact the volunteer office at 912-819-6186.

Mercedes Hopson is a senior at Savannah State University majoring in mass communication with a concentration in journalism.