Other than keeping them alive, the most important part of my job as a mom is to raise good people. And in my book, good people are grateful for what they have and find ways to “give back” to the greater good whenever possible. But let’s get real–it’s hard to find a way to volunteer with kids that is actually helpful to the cause and in a way that makes sense to them. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered some great ways to volunteer with my kids.
A friend told me about this volunteer group, which was started by a boy and his family (at age 7?!) to show that kids can make a positive difference in the world around them through activism, action & kindness. They get kiddos (and their parents) together about ten times a year for service-related activities that are explicitly KID-FRIENDLY! Recent examples include: touring Nurses for Newborns and participating in a donation drive, visiting the headquarters of Tiny Superheroes and helping package capes for shipping, and collecting stuffed animals for The Little Bit Foundation and touring their facilities.
We’ve participated in a few events, and I love how they prepare the kids. They explain the various organizations on the kids’ level so that they understand who they are helping and why. And they make it age-appropriate and FUN for the kids.
A few years ago, some good friends brought this organization to our attention and hosted an event locally. Volunteers package shelf-stable meals to be transported and delivered across the world to vulnerable populations. Kids as young as four can help measure out the dry ingredients (rice, soy, dried vegetables) and other tasks along the assembly line. It’s a concept they can understand (feeding the hungry), and the organizers make it fun for kids to volunteer — they get to take turns ringing a gong for every 100 meals packaged.
While this is a specific opportunity that requires someone from the local community to facilitate the event, look into other local organizations that provide food assistance, and you’d be surprised how many are open to kid participation.
Don’t Forget About Built-In Service Opportunities!
There’s a lot of pressure on parents these days to do all the heavy lifting when teaching these values to our kids, so I’ve opted for service-focused extracurriculars to take advantage of built-in opportunities. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are great examples. I know, I know, organizational politics aside… these groups are organized on the local level (your kid is in a troop comprised of their classmates and led by parent volunteers) and provide endless volunteer opportunities to serve in your local community — in the two years my kids have been involved in scouting, they have participated in food and personal hygiene drives, picking up litter, and visiting with residents of nursing homes. My kids are also involved in the children’s program through our church, where they have opportunities to learn about and donate their own money to ministries and participate in kid-friendly service projects, often alongside parents for a family serving experience.
While it takes some effort to find the opportunities, it is possible to volunteer with your kids in a way that’s fun and accomplishes your goal of teaching them to be good people!