By: Ellen Anderson, Volunteer Specialist at Penfield Children’s Center
When children volunteer, they learn compassion and become more aware of how they can help every day in the community. Also, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to volunteer with young children. As long as they receive age-appropriate tasks, they can feel just as involved as mom and dad. Volunteering as a family also provides a great opportunity for spending quality time together.
Below are 10 ideas for volunteering with kids:
- Create gift boxes for kids at social service centers. Collect shoe boxes and set your little one to work decorating the outside with construction paper, stickers, markers and glue. Help her cut out fun shapes from an old magazine and write positive sayings, such as “You’re the Best!” or “Keep on Smiling!” Fill the box with items such as playing cards, mini coloring books, crayons and matchbox cards.
- Pick-up trash in your neighborhood. Make sure to equip yourself and your child with proper safety attire, such as gloves, and a plastic bag, and see how much you can collect in an hour. When neighbors see you doing that good deed, they might be inclined to help.
- Visit a local nursing home. Schedule a time for you and your child to spend time with the residents or ask if it’s possible to be paired with one person for a set amount of time. Your little one might find he makes a new, special friend.
- Organize a food drive. Talk to your child’s principal and see if he or she would be open to allowing you and your child to collect non-perishable items for a nearby homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Have your child create the sign that goes above the collection box and work with him on setting a realistic donation goal.
- Create an art project for a lonely neighbor. Let your child’s imagination take over and create a unique piece of art that can fit into an envelope. Hand deliver or mail your little one’s creation to the lucky recipient. How fun to receive mail that isn’t an advertisement or bill!
- Do random acts of kindness. Ask your child to help you figure out fun activities you can do together throughout the community. Tape a dollar bill to a vending machine, donate books to your library or bring treats to a police or fire station.
- Play with puppies! Visit an animal shelter nearby and ask which animals are good with kids. This is sure to brighten the animal’s and your child’s day!
- In lieu of gifts at a birthday party, ask guests to bring boxes of cake mix and frosting. Make birthday bags with your child and donate the bags to a homeless shelter so that more children can celebrate their birthdays.
- Brew coffee for your garbage man or mail carrier and allow your child to deliver it when they arrive. Make sure the lid is on tight!
- Visit the park after it rains and dry off the slides and swings. You’re sure to make another child’s day.
Which volunteer activities have you done with your child?