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!