Giving back to the community and learning the importance of being a helpful part of our community are areas that are easiest taught to children when they’re young by leading by example and by jumping in and doing. Making volunteerism a habit, and a regular part of life will help children to become natural volunteers within the community. Finding service projects that young children can participate in is often a stumbling block, making it more difficult for families to jump right in.
Volunteer activities for kids
Visit a Senior Center
Senior centers invite children and children’s groups to visit for happy smiles, playful visits and entertainment. Parent groups can sign up their children to sing or visit and play simple board games, cards and, for older children, read stories. This is a great way to not just teach children about volunteering, but also about appreciating and feeling comfortable around, elders.
Help a neighbor
Children with older neighbors simply need to ask how they can help, though more stubborn neighbors may need to be reminded of what they need. Perhaps the neighbor needs help taking the trash out each week, or could use a hand weeding or gardening in the spring and summer. It may be as simple as collecting the mail for a neighbor who struggles to get outside or offering to shovel on a snowy day.
Create a gardent at school, your community center or your place of worship
Gardens bring smiles, warmth and life to a variety of areas, but, sadly, they’re easily overlooked and frequently cut from budgets. Families can contact building directors to learn how they can establish, plan, create and keep-up community gardens—this is a great group activity.
Help with a clean-up day
Another easy activity to do with kids is to clean up parks and local community areas. Contact your local park-board, community center or favorite sports league to ask about their park clean-up days. And don’t forget your rubber gloves!
Help stock soup kitchens
While some soup kitchens may have rules about the minimum ages of volunteers who may interact within the actual kitchens, they often accept help behind the scenes. Bring your child in to help sort and organize foods, or work with your child to run a collection through a your neighborhood or school.
National Days of Service
MLK Day of Service
Traditionally held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Day (the third Monday of January), the MLK Day of Service is celebrated across the country as a day to follow King’s idea: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”
Visit Volunteer Match or the official day of service website to be matched with local activities that are of interest and in need of volunteers. MLK Day of Service webpage also lists lesson plans which include suggestions for children and a toolkit to help you plan your day of service.
September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance
While the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance began in 2002, it was official established by Congress as a recognized national event day in 2009 and is supported by organizations such as MyGoodDeed. More information, tool kits ideas and lessons for children can be found on the Serve website.
© 2015, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.