The season of giving is right around the corner. Get into the holiday spirit by volunteering as a family. By focusing on charity and volunteering you can spend more quality time together, while also teaching your kids about the spirit of service.
It’s important to make our children realize that anyone can make a positive difference in the life of someone else — even a child. It’s not always about the grandiose gestures or large donations, sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact. As parents, we hope that our children will grow up to make a difference in our world, so it’s beneficial to foster these altruistic feelings from an early age.
Try to get each child to pick a couple volunteer activities they want to take part in this month, either as a family or alone. You can pick activities that only require one visit or those that you can repeatedly do together. Kids are naturally very compassionate, so they’ll get the hang of it in no time! Here are different options to get your family started this holiday season.
- Put together and donate a Thanksgiving meal bag. Most cities and/or schools have Thanksgiving food drives. It’s a great opportunity to talk to your kids about being thankful for the food they do have.
- Send homemade “thank you” letters to deployed service men and women. You can do this through Operation Gratitude.
- Grow vegetables in your garden and offer them to someone who can’t garden or to a hunger center.
- Volunteer as a family at a local soup kitchen or food shelter. You can request to have a specific responsibility as a family such as serving drinks or cleaning up.
- Make a “grandfriend” at a local nursing home or assisted living facility and encourage your kids to make crafts, play board games, sing songs, and make up stories with their friend.
Run errands, cook for, collect mail, rake leaves, shovel snow, or help out someone dealing with an illness.
- Repair and donate toys, household items, electronics, and more. You can drop them off at a local Salvation Army, Goodwill, school, or church.
- Collect children’s books and donate them to a children’s hospital.
- Pick up litter in your neighborhood or wildlife area. Wear gloves and use pick up tools/reachers and then throw out and/or recycle the trash.
- Volunteer at your local library. Have the kids bring homemade cards to the librarian to show their appreciation.
- Collect warm clothing, toys, diapers, and personal care items to donate to your local homeless shelter.
- Participate in something specific to your city. For example, here are some activities in NYC: New York Cares: Coat Drive and New York Cares: Family-Friendly Volunteer Projects. Search on www.volunteermatch.org for volunteering opportunities in your zipcode and area of interest.
For an extra educational component, encourage your kids to write a journal entry about their volunteering experience. It’s a great way for them to practice expressing their emotions and writing skills in general. Both are really important!
We hope these ideas can get your family on the path towards frequent volunteering and charity work. Know that someone will be very thankful and touched by your family’s actions!