You’ve always been someone who supports the community, and now that you have kids, you want to support their service drive, too. But how can you find age-appropriate activities that spark volunteerism, even for the youngest kids?
It’s true – giving back will look different depending on your kids’ ages. But starting them off early can set the stage for a lifetime of doing good. Looking to make giving back a family affair? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
5 WAYS TO GIVE BACK
Giving is a mindset – one that can be supported early by asking, “How can we share things we have with someone who needs them?” Some organizations take gently used items your children can sort through and donate with you; others provide lists for individual children and ask you to create outfits and items you can shop for. Either way, explore organizations, learn about what they do, and make decisions together about where items should go and who could use them.
Favorite stories are treasures kids want to share. And books are always valuable items. Collections agencies exist nationwide; some will even provide instructions on how to host a book drive. Not all organizations will take used books, meaning in some cases, you’ll have to buy new. But either way, such undertakings will inspire important conversations about literacy and reading for all. Extra bonus: the two-sided benefit means you’re supporting both an important cause and your own child’s love of reading.
The rising cost of groceries has upped the number of people experiencing food insecurity, and shined a light on pantries that help. Local pantries are always grateful for support – many have volunteer days that even kids might be able to join. Want to make sure your donation is useful? A quick call will often yield a wish list of items and sizes to buy. Beyond the essentials, kids can think about non-perishable items that are on their favorite lists, and that they’d want other kids to have.
Family runs are great opportunities to collect for a cause – and the fringe benefit is it gets the family up and out. Some races are run in specific places on specific days; others have gone virtual, meaning you can choose your own route and complete it whenever works best for your family (search “virtual charity races” to find them). Not a running family? Walking is great, too. Do research together to decide on an event and a cause. If you’re really ambitious, think about setting up a fundraising page to ask friends, family, and neighbors to pitch in.
Got an animal lover? Four-legged friends need support, too. Some shelters allow kids to walk and interact with animals (call ahead to double check current health and safety policies). And all of them need donations -- food, litter, bowls, and more. Shop and drop off together. While you’re there (depending on shelter rules) you might even be able to give animals some much-needed love. Just be prepared for the inevitable “Can we please adopt one?” on the way out.
Some final notes: kids love to chart activities, so creating and hanging a kindness tree – a cardboard trunk with paper leaves that display completed activities—gives a visual reminder of how they’ve given back.
And last but definitely not least: one other thing families can donate is time. If you’re looking for a family-friendly place to put in some elbow grease together, check out the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children that creates Bright Spaces in homeless shelters for children who need them. Learn more here.