Part of being a parent is raising kids who will grow up to be empathetic, kind-hearted, and actively engaged members of their community. One of the best ways to foster a sense of responsibility and compassion in kids is to help get them into the habit of volunteering. Plus, doing volunteer work together as a family can be a great bonding experience and way to spend quality time together away from electronic devices. Here are six ideas for kid-friendly volunteer projects:
Participate in Walks to Raise Money for Cancer
Most cities have organized walks and runs to raise money for different types of cancer and other conditions like heart disease. Small kids can participate by being pushed in their strollers while older kids can walk or jog along with you. Be sure to explain the purpose of the walk and encourage your kids to find ways to raise additional money for the cause if they want to. For example, they may decide to create a fundraising page with other kids and parents from their school.
Volunteer Reading Stories at a Pediatric Hospital
Many children’s hospitals have volunteer programs that involve visiting, cheering up, and reading to patients. Your kids can help you read to the patients and will likely feel a strong sense of connection to them since they’re children. This can help them to more easily put themselves in someone else’s shoes and feel gratitude for their health.
Deliver Hot Meals
Many cities and towns have services that deliver hot meals to people in need, or those who are disabled and unable to easily cook for themselves or get to a store. Having your kids come with you to pick up the meals and deliver them can be eye-opening and help them feel more connected to their community.
Visit Someone at a Nursing Home
Look into volunteer programs at your local nursing homes. Visiting an elderly person on a regular basis is a great way to reach out and cheer someone up, and both kids and the elderly benefit emotionally from spending time with each other.
Gather Kids’ Items for a Local Shelter
Look for local women and children’s or family shelters and call them to see what kids’ items they need. Explain to your kids that sometimes families fall on hard times and need a little extra help, and that by donating some of their old clothes and toys in good condition they can really brighten someone’s day. You may also want to give them a modest amount of money to spend at the store purchasing things like toothbrushes, underwear, and socks for kids in shelters. Once you’ve collected everything they can go with you to drop off the items at the shelter.
Pick up Litter
Check and see if your area has local litter clean-up days at parks or schools. If not, older kids might want to organize something with their classmates and friends. Just make sure that everyone wears protective gloves and that there is adequate adult supervision.