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Volunteering with Children

Growing Givers

At-home activities to promote empathy and social awareness.

As a parent, you try to raise your child to become an active, compassionate member of society. Growing Givers is a resource to help you find age-appropriate activities, projects, and volunteer opportunities to encourage empathy, caring, and compassion for the world and all its people. Growing Givers offers ideas for how you can promote empathy and social awareness through your daily interactions and modeling with children and through service opportunities from home or out in the community.

Parent Webinar: Growing Givers - Raising Socially Responsible Children
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Teaching Kids to Care for Others & Volunteer Family

Raising children to be socially aware, community oriented, charitable minded, and educated about their world is more vital than ever in today's global society. Watch our webinar to hear the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children® discuss how social responsibility and empathy develops as your child grows, bridging family, school, and community life, and meaningful activities your family can do together to make a difference in your community and in the world.

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Pint-Size Heroes: Supporting Children as Philanthropists
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Motivating Kids to Volunteer & Do Community Service

Turn the nightly news on and you're inundated with seemingly unsolvable problems. The issues of poverty, war, disease, homelessness, and crime loom large. It's unlikely that we'll ever solve all the world's problems, yet small acts of kindness can make a difference in individual lives. Children, with their goodness, innocence, and hope, can be active participants. In this article, we highlight a few young philanthropists and offer suggestions on encouraging volunteerism in your family.

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Meet the Neighbors: How to Foster Community at Home
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Teaching Kids to Help Neighbors & Community

Remember the "good old days" when people sat on their front porches discussing the latest news and politics? Today's families tend to be busier and connect through social media, making those front porch talks almost a thing of the past. Yet the need to feel connected hasn't changed. A strong sense of community is like an anchor, giving a deep sense of security to children and families.

Many cities and neighborhood organizations actively work to foster community, but individual families are really at the heart of creating "neighborly" neighborhoods. Wondering how to build relationships with your neighbors?

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Helping Your Child Make a Difference
Ways your child can be a good citizen close to home and globally. Click on the images below.
Bright Horizons Foundation for Children Foundation for Children Homelessness and Volunteering Teaching Compassion to Kids Connecting and Caring
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Foundation for Children

Through the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children®, we can extend the reach of our knowledge and commitment to children and families far beyond the walls of our centers, schools, and programs for enrolled families.

The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children and families. Our support programs serve at-risk children, instilling positive self-concepts and self esteem; providing nurturing, creative environments; and supporting and facilitating the development of strong families.

Bright Spaces®: Special places for children

Bright Spaces are warm, enriching places in homeless shelters and community agencies where children and families in crisis can play, learn, and have fun. With partners from around the world - including Bright Horizons’ employees and clients, community agencies, and others - we've created more than 260 of these vibrant spaces, bringing much-needed joy to children in 38 states and four countries, and donating safe, educational, and stimulating areas in which families can connect and in which children can learn and play.

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Homelessness and Volunteering

While some life challenges may be hard for younger children to grasp, not having a home may be easier for a child to understand. Engage in discussions that explore what it might be like to not have an apartment or house to call "home." Brainstorm how your family might be able to help those who face homelessness.

One way is to support organizations that focus on this challenge, like The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children®. The foundation's mission is to brighten the lives of children, youth, and families in crisis. Through its flagship program, Bright Spaces®, the foundation creates warm, enriching playrooms in community agencies that give children and families in crisis a special place to learn and have fun.

Here are some ideas to get your family talking about and involved in helping those facing homelessness:

  • Talk together about children who don't have a place to live; read books like The Teddy Bear to facilitate your discussion.
  • Help children make personal connections with the experience faced by homeless children by imagining what it would be like to need to move every few months.
  • As a family, make vegetable soup or bake something to bring to a homeless shelter.
  • Inquire whether your family's child care program or school may already be involved in projects to support the Foundation such as a "Walk-on" to raise money for a Bright Space. Volunteer to help.
  • As a family, collect materials to create "bedtime bags" (a teddy bear, book, nightlight and PJs) for children in shelters.
  • For your school-age child's birthday party, ask each guest to bring an item to donate to a child in a homeless shelter, such as mittens, scarves, toothbrushes, hair clips or brushes. After the party, deliver them to a shelter together as a family.

Another organization that offers service opportunities for entire families is Big Hearted Families. Their website will help you find volunteer opportunities in your area and match them with your family's interests.

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Connecting and Caring

We live in a global community and children who learn to notice, appreciate, and respect differences will have greater success when they can understand and connect to others around the world.

Heifer International provides families and communities in need with gifts that keep on giving – in the form of donated live stock and training. In return for a goat, bee, chicks, or another animal that generates food and income, the recipient family agrees to share the animal’s offspring with another family, helping a struggling community achieve self reliance. 

Heifer's mission of sharing is a powerful lesson in itself, but also provides lots of opportunities for your family to get involved. For example:

  • Talk about how one way to help hungry children is to send animals to their village that will give milk, lay eggs, produce honey, etc. Read Beatrice's Goat together.    
  • As a family, explore Heifer's animal gift catalog and decide which animal you would like to donate. Discuss why and research more about that animal in books or online.  
  • Think together of ways to raise money to send an animal to a village. Include your child in the brainstorming. Ideas might include doing extra chores or selling items your child helps bake.
Teaching Kids Recycling and Sustainability Recycling and Sustainability Diversity Education for Kids Diversity and Peace
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Recycling and Sustainability

Sustainability, recycling, and reusing are terrific projects that are easy for children to understand.

One organization that caters recycling projects to children is Terracyle, Inc., an ecologically and socially responsible company that markets products made completely from trash. By collecting and sending hard-to-recycle waste like juice pouches, toothbrushes, chip bags and more, your child helps Terracycle create resaleable items that end up on store shelves instead of landfills. Schools, child care centers, or families can also earn a donation percentage per item that goes to a nonprofit organization of their choice.

Becoming involved with Terracycle will inspire your child's curiosity about and willingness to care for our planet. Together, you and your child can:

  • Discuss and imagine how you might expand your family's recycling practices.
  • Learn more about recycling and ecology through reading books together like Michael Recycle
  • Brainstorm ways that used products could be re-purposed in your home.
  • Start a composting bin.
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Diversity and Peace

Children have an inborn sense of what is right, so it is particularly important to listen to and respect children's ideas on how to make positive changes in the world. Exposing children to situations where others were treated unfairly helps children to see beyond themselves, and to imagine themselves as part of the peace solution.

When discussing injustice, it's important for you as a parent to provide the proper context and answer their questions. An excellent children's book on diversity to read together and facilitate this conversation is Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, which tells the story of Rosa Parks' historic bus ride.

One organization, Kids for Peace: Uplifting our World through Love and Action, offers wonderful ideas and service learning opportunities for children to create a better world through peace, kindness and respect for others. You and your child can:

  • Participate in the Great Kindness Challenge, a day devoted to performing as many acts of kindness as possible. Their website helps you choose from 50 challenges that encourage children to act kindly towards others and the world.
  • Create and send "Peace Packs" around the world for children in need. 
  • Make a "peace pledge" to be active peace keepers or form your own local Kids for Peace chapters.
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