One of the best ways to teach your children about the importance of helping others is by volunteering your time to a worthy cause. However, not every form of volunteering is suitable for the entire family. If you’re trying to figure out the best types of volunteering suitable for every member of your family, this article will give you some great ideas to get started with. Make sure to research local charities and check any restrictions they may have in regards to age.
1. Clean Up Litter
This is a great option because you generally don’t need to use an outside organization for it. If you’re unsure about any possible restrictions, you can check with the park or owner of the area you’re picking up. All you need for this is gloves to wear and trash bags. You can choose any public area to clean up, whether it’s a park, trail, beach, or other public space. Being environmentally friendly is increasingly important in today’s world, as shown by the more than 2.2 million Americans that have jobs focusing on energy efficiency. Within the world of environmental friendliness, litter is a huge issue, and having your family help clean it up will teach your children first hand how toxic and harmful littering is.
For example, in Waveny, CT (do good link) a mother contacted her local park to ask if it would be okay if she and her daughters could clean up the litter at their local trails. Her motivation was to make sure her kids had something to do during the COVID-19 crises, but this action is helpful no matter the climate of the world.
2. Help Out at a Soup Kitchen
Soup kitchens, or other types of organizations that feed the public that can’t afford meals themselves, are a great place to volunteer as a family. Not only are your children going to be learning about cooking and caring for others, but there are usually jobs that are suited for many differently aged people. Your family will get to see the immediate reactions of those that are benefitting from the service, which can help teach them about the cause and effect of helping others.
3. Do Good at a Food Bank
Food banks are a great place to donate food, but they also are usually in need of volunteers to sort and hand out the food they receive. This type of volunteering, once again, usually has a few different jobs within it that can be catered to different ages. Your local food bank may be in higher demand during the COVID-19 crisis, so even if you don’t donate your time, you can organize donation drives through your school or a club that your children are in, like boy scouts.
4. Help Out an Animal Shelter
Many animal shelters need volunteers to help with the tasks related to taking care of all of the animals they have in their care. When you are checking with your local shelter, ask about opportunities that your children will be able to help with. Make sure that if you’re directly interacting with the animals that your children know the proper etiquette around animals.
There are between six and eight million homeless animals that pass through animal shelters every year, which means there are more than enough animals in need. If your family is prepared for it, you can consider fostering dogs or cats while they wait to be adopted. Make sure you’re ready for any pets that come into your care, and once again make sure your children understand the responsibilities of taking care of an animal if you want them to help.
5. Make Bags for Battered Women
Domestic violence, which is defined as an assault that has occurred between two people in a domestic relationship, impacts many women and children each year. If there is a women’s shelter in your area, you can help by donating bags of belongings for the women and children who are taken in by the shelter. Many of the women and children in these shelters leave their homes with little to no belongings so they won’t alert their abusers, which means that they show up to these shelters with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Your family can create bags to donate to the shelter that can be given to women and children who are arriving at the shelter. Giving them something that is theirs is very important to their mental health, especially after leaving what is likely a toxic situation. If your family saves up clothes that you want to donate, you can divide these up and place them into the bags by size, or by age group if they’re children’s clothing. You can ask friends and family about clothes they want to donate as well to give a larger variety of sizes to the shelter.
In terms of new items, you can include socks, underwear, and small toiletries like toothbrushes and soap. For children’s bags, you can include new or gently used toys, books, and games. Make sure to place these items in a reusable bag so the recipients will have somewhere to store their belongings.
6. Make and Hand Out Care Packages to the Homeless
Similarly to creating bags of belongings to donate to battered women’s shelters, you can create bags to hand out to the homeless. Many cities have areas where homeless people congregate, and this is a great thing to keep in your car as well for when you see homeless people.
In these bags, you can include water, some granola bars, toiletries, and socks, scarves, and hats. You can place these in gallon-sized Ziploc bags so that they are waterproof. You can have your entire family help prep the bags, and you can hand them out whenever you notice someone experiencing homelessness.
There are many ways that you and your family can get involved in your community and volunteer your time. It can help teach your children valuable lessons about helping others. If you’re unsure where to start in your community, there are great resources such as (link to all these resources) Network For Good, Doing Good Together, Create the Good, and Idealist that can help you locate nearby volunteer opportunities.
How does your family help your community? What have you noticed your children learning from the experience?