It’s never too early to teach your children the importance of giving back to their community and helping others. There’s something incredibly fulfilling about spending your time in a way that benefits others, knowing you’ve done something to help. While there are no shortage of senior centers and soup kitchens for teens and adults to volunteer at, it can be tough to find opportunities to volunteer as a family. However, it can be done. The next time you’re on the hunt for a family volunteering opportunity, consider these suggestions.
How to Volunteer as a Family
#1 Spend time at a food bank.
Teaching your children about food scarcity might be a great way to help them understand how lucky they are to find healthy food on their dinner plate. Many food banks have opportunities for families with small children to volunteer. Kids can help stack fruits and vegetables or sort nonperishable items. In some places, kids can even volunteer with their families in community gardens which is also a great way to teach them a valuable skill.
#2 Pick up litter.
Cleaning up your local parks and trails is an easy way to give back to your community and the earth, and can be a great opportunity to teach the kids about the environment and our impact upon it. The best part? You don’t have to fill out a form or sign a waiver to participate. The next time you head out on a family hike, or go to the beach for a day by the ocean, bring a pair of gloves and a recyclable bag. Challenge each member of your family to see who can fill their bag first with the most trash!
#3 Create care kits for the homeless.
There are likely people in your community who struggle to keep a roof over their head or provide basic amenities for themselves. Spend time as a family creating care kits – sealable plastic bags filled with items that someone living out in the elements may find useful. Basic hygiene products like toothpaste, a toothbrush, and hand sanitizer, small snacks or treats, and even clothing items like gloves and socks are often appreciated. Once the kits are assembled, hit the streets and pass them out to those in need. Alternately, you can find a local homeless center or food bank to drop them off for distribution.
#4 Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
Volunteering at the local animal shelter or rescue center can be a great way to give back to the community, especially if you’re an animal-lover. Many shelters do impose minimum age limits, but kids can still find ways to participate and volunteer if the whole family is involved. You could even consider fostering a pet and get your kids involved in the day to day care of caring for an animal at home. Not only will you be helping to save a life, you’ll be teaching your children to care and respect another living being. Also, if your family has considered a pet but hasn’t been ready to take the leap, spending some time scooping poop, walking pups, and socializing with animals at the local shelter may help sway your decision one way or another.
#5 Adopt a family around the holidays.
Another fun and fulfilling way to volunteer as a family is to sponsor a family who has fallen on hard times during the holiday season. This can be incredibly impactful for families struggling to keep the holiday spirit alive for their children. Work with a local charity to identify a family in need. In most cases, you’ll be given a short description of each family member (gender and age) and a few items they’d appreciate. Then, take the whole family out to shop for your adopted family. Browse the shelves for gifts to brighten their holiday season, and by the end of the trip, you’ll find your spirits have lifted, too.
The next time you aren’t sure how to spend your weekend, find a way to get out and volunteer as a family. Whether you donate your time to the local food bank or pick up litter on your next family adventure, you might be surprised to see how much fun you have – and you’ll be teaching your kids valuable lessons in the process!