Following my recent blog post about embracing the little, simple things, I wanted to include a post about volunteering with little ones in tow. Though pint-sized, our children possess a great ability to bring joy to others; to help those in need and bring a smile to anyone’s face.
The act of helping others also is an immensely important life lesson, teaching empathy and nurturing the compassion that I believe all children are born with. As parents, we are in a wonderful position to continue to cultivate this compassion by presenting opportunities, being good examples and showing our kids that volunteering can be fun.
Here are a few ideas:
Have your kids round up some of their old books to donate to local hospitals or shelters. Get your friends and neighbors involved too!
Contact a local nursing home or hospital to see if they’d welcome having children make cards for residents. Cards can be for birthdays or holidays, or just to say “I’m thinking about you!”
Contact a local nursing home or senior center to see if they would welcome cards, crafts or baked goods from your children. There’s nothing like a smiling 5-year old holding a plate full of home-made cookies to brighten someone’s day.
The next time you head to the grocery store, grab an extra basket and have your kiddo pick out some (healthy!) items. Then drop them off at a local food bank or shelter.
Host a toy drive. Make a fun, themed party and ask each guest to bring a new, unwrapped gift (doesn’t have to be big or expensive!). Then have your kids come with you to donate the toys to a Children’s Hospital.
Make a Blanket
Fleece blankets are easy to make and don’t require sewing. The blankets can be donated to a Children’s Hospital or a daycare center. Easy blanket-making instructions here:
Love Your Animals
Most kids will love this one: head out to a local shelter or humane society and give your furry friends some love! Donations of toys, food, litter, old towels, etc., are always welcome, and many shelters allow people to volunteer as dog walkers or cat cuddlers.
Let your kids play Park Ranger for a day. Your local Parks and Recreation Department may need help on trail clean-up. Kids can help staff clean and/or create trails, plant trees or flowers and maintain park facilities.
Here’s one of my favorite volunteer/charity ideas:
Both My Stuff Bags and Bags 4 Kids provide “comfort bags” to children when they have been displaced due to neglect, abuse or abandonment. During the transition between their home and the shelter or foster care, these kiddos often have nothing of their own (or sometimes transfer what belongings they do have in trash bags). These charities assemble backpacks and duffel bags (stuffed with blankets, books, toys, toothbrushes, etc.) and hand them off to social services, police stations, crisis shelters and foster agencies, where they are then given to the children upon their arrival. The bags are a symbol of comfort, hope and new beginnings to these children; something they can call their very own.
Here are some great volunteering resource websites, specifically geared towards family and children volunteer opportunities:
Please share some of your own volunteering ideas or experiences!