Family Volunteering: Teaching Kids to Care
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Volunteerism is one of the greatest experiences a child can receive. Volunteers are exposed to other lifestyles and cultures through the diverse communities they serve. They learn about themselves and begin thinking about what they would like their role in the world to be. Families who volunteer together strengthen their bonds by working towards a common cause.
The greatest part is—there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available, no matter what age you are! Below are some helpful tips and advice that will guide you in your search for the perfect volunteer opportunity.
Volunteerism for Children:
Seek out volunteer opportunities at school, from picking up litter on the playground to helping teachers clean and set up classroom activities during recess, lunch, or after classes end for the day. Many schools even offer rewards to student volunteers, such as extra credit, candy, or small prizes. Encourage your child to ask his teacher about volunteering or inquire about it during your next meeting!
Join the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts of America to open doors to local volunteer opportunities, such as charity bake sales and canned food drives. Small acts of kindness within the local community now can lead to future volunteer opportunities through scouting, such as becoming a World Center volunteer in India, Mexico, England, or Switzerland once your child is 18 or older. Volunteering through scouting is best for kids who are committed to volunteering and are willing to devote their time.
Accompany your kid and venture out into your neighborhood and surrounding community to seek out volunteer opportunities and meet new people. An elderly neighbor may need help mowing his lawn or walking his dog. Your friend’s first grader could benefit from receiving homework help from your child after school. Maybe there is a great need for someone to pick up litter in the neighborhood. Whatever the service may be, the important thing is for your child to understand the importance of helping others and giving back to his community.
Families can search the web for local organizations in need of help or use the databases of websites geared towards filling volunteer positions. Many websites structure their databases to allow users to search for family or group volunteer opportunities. Users can also search for available opportunities based on the age of the volunteer. Food banks and family shelters usually allow children to volunteer alongside their parents as part of a group as long as the majority of the group’s members are 18 or older.
Through Your City or Town
Check out your city or town's website for family volunteer opportunities. There are service projects that kids can participate in alongside their parents to make a difference in the city or town they call home. Some examples include litter pick-up, graffiti removal, or assisting at library summer programs and fairs.
Why not turn your next family vacation into an opportunity to make a difference and expose the kids to other cultures? The Global Citizens Network and Global Volunteers are volunteer travel organizations who work with families, designating team leaders specifically trained to accompany them on their adventures abroad. Opportunities to serve within communities in need span across nearly every continent in the world. You can search their websites for a pre-existing trip or plan a private trip as long as you have at least six participants. Trips usually last for one to three weeks and costs range from $450 to $2,795 per participant, before airfare. The minimum age for children who want to volunteer alongside their family varies depending on the service project and country, but there are trips available for children as young as five to participate in.
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