volunteer children

by Samantha from Recycled Rides

As parents, we are largely responsible for our children’s character development, and volunteering has the potential to impact our children in positive ways.  With volunteering, they are able to firsthand see those in need and also learn that it is far better to give than to receive.  Volunteering allows children the chance to make a difference and create a better world to live in.

One of the beautiful aspects of volunteering is that it can be tailored to your family’s current stage of life, and no matter the size or grandeur of your volunteer effort, every volunteer effort makes a difference in the life of someone else.  Often, our volunteer efforts will not be recognized in a public way so you should encourage your child to volunteer with no assumption of recognition.  Princess Diana said it best, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.

Beginning at a young age, children should be engaged in volunteer efforts of some sort.  No matter how simple the effort is, it teaches your children the importance of volunteering.  If your family takes a trip to the lake each summer, your children will understand that the lake is a treasured place for your family, and by volunteering with children beginning at a young age, they will comprehend how much volunteering means to your family.  Your children need to see their parents involved in the volunteer efforts too because it will show that you truly believe in what you are asking them to participate in.

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Volunteer efforts can and should be tailored to your children’s current ages and attention span.  A preschooler might not be able to assist at a golf tournament benefitting a local hospital, but a preschooler will be able to help decorate cards for the sick.  A teenager will be able to buy food items for your city’s food pantry, but a teenager might be impacted more by serving food at a soup kitchen.  However old your child is, you can rest assured that a volunteer opportunity is available for you and your family to serve at.  Your children’s current interests can be matched to their volunteer efforts.  For example, animal lovers might enjoy supporting a local humane society in activities, and someone who loves organizing would value assisting a library in shelving or sorting books.  When you are able to match your personal interests with volunteer activities, volunteering becomes something to look forward to rather than simply something to finish.

Volunteering efforts make a difference no matter the amount of money, if any, spent.  Creating cards for hospitalized children would be a wonderful way to engage your children in volunteering and teach them about sick children their own age.  Deployed troops would also love to receive pictures and handwritten letters, and this will give your child a glimpse of the sacrifice they are making on our behalf.  Spending time to welcome new neighbors is influential because you will be one of the first impressions they will have for your city.  Visiting residents at a nursing home will serve as an encouragement to both your family and the residents, and this is a lovely opportunity to show your children how precious elderly people are.  Contact your children’s favorite park to see if you can participate in any beautify projects such as picking up limbs or repainting the playground.  If you have a sick or elderly neighbor, your family could offer to take care of yardwork or household chores.

Of course, volunteering can involve spending financial resources, and you can determine at what level you wish to contribute to a volunteer project.  Taking children to the grocery store and having them buy items for a food pantry or food drive is a simple way to engage your family in volunteer efforts but also teach them about societal problems such as childhood hunger.  Around the holiday season, your family can buy toys for children in need in an effort to help your children understand that some children do not have as much as they do.  Your family can also buy personal hygiene items and donate them to a homeless shelter or a women’s shelter.  As you go about your daily activities, be on the lookout for people who could use some extra love; maybe, your family’s volunteer opportunity is filling up a gas tank for someone or paying for the meal of the single parent behind you in line.

children in volunteer

No matter how old your child is or if you can give any resources other than time, your family’s volunteering efforts make a difference and will influence the world in a positive way.  By starting your children at a young age, your children will gain the value of volunteering and will be able to firsthand see the impact of their volunteer efforts.  If your family is able to participate in volunteer efforts that have a personal connection with them, your family will be more likely to continue with the volunteer opportunity.  Volunteering should be engaging and fun, and look for little ways in your everyday activities that could become a volunteer opportunity.

Samantha enjoys reading, traveling, baking, and playing with her puppy, Emma.  Some of her favorites include Taylor Swift, Sprite, and Grey’s Anatomy, and she believes in making every moment count.