Volunteer Opportunities for Kids and Families

As a parent, I want to instill the spirit of volunteerism in my kids. The problem is that many organizations require individuals to be a certain age before they can volunteer. Since my kids are still young (5 and 7) it can be hard to find places to give back as a family. While I understand the need to keep things orderly and running smoothly, I want to find ways we can support our community. So, I’ve thought of some creative ways my kids can help out. Here are a few ideas:

Salvation Army Bell Ringer
This is a family-friendly event where kids of any age can contribute. Just bundle them up and bring them along. It’s hard to say no to those smiling angelic faces and the kids will have a blast ringing the bell! Even when we aren’t ringing the bell, my kids always love to donate every time we pass a friendly bell-ringer.

Senior Center Activities
In my town, the local senior center has story-time. This is a win-win situation for children and seniors. They get to interact in a friendly, family-like environment and you might even make a new friend or two.

Give back on National Holidays
Celebrate Earth Day. Many towns organize a clean-up day at least once a year. Just sign up your family, grab a bag and help to beautify your neighborhood or a local park. In fact, there are many holidays where you can give back: you could plant a tree for Arbor Day, or hand out flags and support your local veterans for Veteran’s day. For Thanksgiving you can support a local family who can’t afford a meal by donating all the supplies. At Christmastime, I have my kids pick out a new toy to donate to the annual toy drive.

Walk for a Cause
Do a quick search and I’m sure you can find a local 5-K race or fun run for a cause. Show your support by walking as a family. If your town has a local parade, you could create your own float or walk with a group that you support.

Volunteer at a local Farm or Community Garden
Find a local urban garden, farmer’s market or non-profit farm and ask if you can lend a hand. Your children get the benefit of fresh air while they learn about agriculture.

Homemade Gifts and Care Packages
It’s easy to assemble care packages for a variety of groups. Ideas include an overnight bundle for students; a yummy baked-good care package for local firefighters or police officers; cards and gifts for our veterans. If they are crafty, have them make cards, crafts and care packs for orphanages, hospitals and senior centers. You could even bake goodies for a local blood drive or fundraiser.

Collect food, clothing and blankets
Organize a family food drive to collect cans and non-perishable food for the local food bank or soup kitchen. Kids may choose to collect blankets for a local homeless shelter, or clothing to support numerous causes such as Catie’s Closet. Sometimes, just raising awareness about a need or cause is a great start!

Be a Good Neighbor
Spreading holiday cheer is a fun giving activity that the entire family can enjoy. In the winter, you could help clear snow for the elderly, or gather a few families and sing Christmas carols in your neighborhood. Perhaps you could choose a day to devote to random acts of kindness.

Forgo Gifts
Once a child learns how good it feels to give back they often want to do even more. A recent trend is to forgo the usual birthday or holiday gifts and have guests donate to a cause of the child’s choosing instead. This could be in the form of money or tangible donations such as hats, mittens or food. Another option would be to have guests purchase a gift so your child can drop them off at a toy drive. Sometimes the physical act of giving gives a child the satisfaction that they made a difference in the world.

Volunteering has many benefits for every member the family, especially children. It instills a sense of worth and community spirit, helps children develop leadership skills and gives them a sense of pride. Giving back also teaches children social responsibility which helps them put their own needs and wants in perspective. You may have to think outside the box and get creative, but if you sit down with your kids and brainstorm some ideas, the results may surprise you!

If you have ideas or stories about volunteering with kids, we’d love to hear from you! Just comment below or send us a message.

2 Responses to “Volunteer Opportunities for Kids and Families

  • Great article, I love the ideas for younger children. I recently took my 16 year old daughter to make bouquets at Powers for Flowers. She loved making the floral arrangements that will be donated to local hospitals, nursing homes, etc. My daughter is very artistic and creative, so this was a great way for her to use her talents and strengths to benefit others.

  • Thanks for the great ideas!
    Last weekend my son really wanted to rake leave but ours were all cleaned up. Our neighbors still had leaves in their front yard so I taught him about doing good deeds. He was excited to help and did the best you can expect from a 5 year old.
    I really like the idea of making cookies for our local firefighters, that might be an activity for this weekend!

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