Volunteering as a family helps children learn how to be compassionate, imaginative and think of others. It helps your child develop communication skills and teaches them that we all have a voice. Show your child how to use that voice to help those who may be less fortunate than themselves.
Here are three low-cost, fun ways to introduce your kids to helping others:
1. Park Pickup
We all have happy memories of going to the park and enjoying a beautiful day. It’s a great way to get some exercise, fresh air and give everyone a break from the rest of your busy day. As a parent, you know what a valuable resource your neighborhood park is, but do your children understand how lucky they are to have a safe, clean place to play right around the corner? With a little planning, you can help them do a small part to make it even better.
Invite the whole family, maybe even some friends and neighbors for your park pickup day. Choose a location — the park, a plaza, or your street — and schedule a couple of hours of fun and service. Add to the fun by creating a game out of which kid can collect the most litter. Create a scavenger hunt to locate things that need to be fixed, painted or cleaned up. Reach out to the local department of parks and recreation to see if there are any specific projects that your family can help with, like pruning bushes or painting picnic benches.
Tools for the Job:
- garbage bags
End the activity with treats in the park or at a friend’s house. Your kids will be proud of their contribution and will feel a greater sense of stewardship for their neighborhood.
2. Organize a Food Drive
No one should have to go hungry, especially not those right here in our community. Contact your local DFW area food bank to find out what items they are in the most need of. Take a tour of the food bank so your kids can see what it’s all about, then have them make posters with information about the food bank and how they plan to help. This helps get the word out about the cause as well as encourage others to donate.
Create a theme for your drive. Give it a fun name that people can connect with and easily remember. For more ideas like ‘Wash Away Hunger’, a car wash where the ‘cost’ to have your car cleaned is canned food items, check out this idea list for themed food drives from the University of Rhode Island.
Be sure to:
- Get organized before you start
- Create teams & Set goals
- Pre-arrange for collection & transportation of items
- Have a plan to get the word out
- Make it fun!
Volunteering for the local animal shelter teaches kids how to care for another creature and to put its needs above their own. Your family may not be ready for full-time pet ownership, maybe there’s not enough space at home or the kids are still too little to take on such a big responsibility. But everyone can benefit from this opportunity for shared affection.
A shelter can be a stressful environment for animals. Many shelters have Dog Walking or Cat Socialization programs that are a a great way for kids to show love and attention to animals and to put the animals at ease.
Volunteering at the local animal shelter is great way to teach caring and nurturing of animals without the commitment of pet ownership.
Check out our list of volunteer age requirements from some local non-profits to see if one is right for you.