National Volunteer Week is April 15th - 21st!
When I was in grade school and high school I volunteered all the time, but when I got to college I became busy with other activities and volunteering became an afterthought. I miss volunteering. It was always much more rewarding than any paying job that I had. I want my kids to experience that. And what better time than now!
I did some research online and found some great volunteer ideas for little ones. Here are some of my favorites:
Volunteer at school. Ava’s preschool has a Mom Helper Day every other month. Their next one is conveniently during National Volunteer Week. It’s the perfect way to help out the teachers and meet other families. And kids can help too. Often younger siblings can come and help when there are opportunities to volunteer at school.
Raid the Closets. I hang on to clothes for far too long. I believe I have good reasons: I will lose the weight and fit into those jeans…That dress may look outdated but I only wore it a few times…I may not be employed right now, but you never know, I may need that suit… It’s time for me and my clothes to move on. There are lots of organizations and shelters that accept clothing, shoes and accessories. And don’t forget about your kids’ old clothes. My rule is that if Sidney didn’t wear the clothes that I saved of Ava’s, it goes to Goodwill. Have your kids help go through their old clothes and pick what they want to donate.
Pull weeds. Ava and Tim are always in the yard pulling weeds on the weekends. Why not help out at your church or school or your neighborhood. Kids love getting dirty and they don’t even realize that they’re doing work! There is probably somewhere in your city that would love your gardening help.
A Yummy Thank You. There’s nothing better than treats to say thanks for all you do. Police officers and fire fighters work hard to protect us and we don’t often get to thank them. Baking is an easy and fun activity for the whole family to do together. And the police and fire stations are fun places for kids to check out!
Babysit for a family in need. If you know a family going through a hard time, why not offer to help? The kids will love playing together. You can also do other things like volunteer to help with the grocery shopping. The smallest of favors can mean so much and often is much more appreciated than any expensive gift.
Donate books. Schools in underprivileged areas are always in need of children’s books. There are also schools and libraries (like those in Joplin, MO) that are rebuilding after being struck by natural disasters. Organize a book drive and donate some of your own books. This week (April 8th - 14th) also happens to be National Library Week!
Cook a meal. Do you know someone who just had a baby? Or a family with a sick child? When Sidney was born, a friend of mine set up a meal registry for us on MealBaby. All my friends signed up to bring food to us for the first couple of weeks after we got home from the hospital. And when Sidney was sick last year, a friend of the family sent us a letter with a gift card to a nearby restaurant. It was so thoughtful and VERY appreciated. Let your kids decide on the dessert or help pick the restaurant and deliver the food to the family.
Write a Letter, Draw A Picture. Support the troops! The men and women in the military who are overseas love getting mail from us folks back home. Talk with your kiddos as they draw, paint and practice writing T-H-A-N-K-Y-O-U. If they can’t write yet, ask them what they would like to say and write it for them. DoSomething.org has partnered with A Million Thanks; both sites have guidelines on how to get your letters and pictures to the troops. Operation Stars and Stripes also has a list of critically-needed items like Ziploc Bags, unscented Wet Wipes, stamps and Twizzlers.
Donate food to a food pantry. Have your child pick out one item each time you go to the store. When you get a bagful, take it to a local food pantry.
Walk to fight disease. Many organizations use walks to increase awareness and raise funds. Kids 5 and up can walk a few miles, and you can push little ones in a stroller.
Still not sure how your family can volunteer? Check out these websites for inspiration:
Volunteer Spot: http://volunteerspot.com/
Do Something: http://www.dosomething.org/
The Volunteer Family: http://www.thevolunteerfamily.org/