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How to Volunteer as a Family

No matter how old your kids are, they can make a difference by volunteering. Here are 12 simple service activities for kids of all ages:

Younger Kids can…

  • Decorate reusable grocery bags and fill them with their favorite non-perishable food items. Feeding America offers a food bank locator, searchable by zip code.
  • Clean out closets and bag up gently used coats, gloves, scarves and blankets to give to the local charity thrift store or shelter.
  • Decorate holiday cards for soldiers overseas. Red Cross-sponsored Holiday Mail for Heroes will deliver letters postmarked before Friday, Dec. 7th, 2012.
  • Connect with your local ASPCA or use their online shelter finder to volunteer with our furry friends, grooming, walking and just showing them some love.
  • As a family, help rake an elderly neighbor’s leaves or shovel their walkway during those snowy months.
  • Write hand-made thank you notes to their teachers, scout leaders, coaches, etc.

Older Kids can…

  • Donate their gently used books, DVDs and electronic games to a local children’s hospital.
  • Make holiday decorations, sweet treats and cards for nursing home residents.
  • Host a hot chocolate or cider stand and donate the proceeds to a charity of their choosing.
  • Adopt a family for the holidays through a local business or faith group, and shop for that family. (VolunteerSpot‘s free online sign up sheets make it easy to setup a Giving Tree/ Adopted family and invite friends, colleagues and class parents to contribute.)
  • Make cut outs and decorations from home for the class holiday party.
  • Attend a local community fundraiser, performance or fun run that donates proceeds to a cause they care about.

Making it a Habit

Giving back and volunteering as a family while kids are young develops a positive service habit that sticks long into adulthood. The following four tips will help ensure your kids understand the impact of their good deeds.

  • Celebrate your service and make it a happy, fun affair to volunteer together.  Take pictures and post them on the fridge or family bulletin board.
  • If donating goods or money to a local charity, deliver the items with your kids in person so they can better internalize how they helped make a difference.
  • Discuss your family’s service experience. Talk about what you did, why you did it, how it felt and what you learned.
  • Build on your kids’ enthusiasm and right then choose your next service project together!

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