Volunteering together, as a family or as a group with children,
sounds great: having time together doing a positive activity and
living the value of giving back to the community in some way.
Family volunteering can be done by the whole family together or by
one parent and one child or teenager as a special
just-the-two-of-us project. Or it can be several siblings
together. And group volunteering with children can be done through
groups like the Girl Scouts, a school or a community of faith.
But the reality is that volunteering opportunities for families
and groups with young children are the hardest types of
volunteering to find. Many nonprofits:
The quickest way to get your family or group with young children
volunteering is for you to put together your own philanthropic
activities that you do mostly from your own home:
- do not allow people under a certain age to volunteer,
because of liability and safety. They may prohibit everyone
under 10, under 12, under 16, even everyone under 18.
- do not have tasks available that can be done as a group.
- have volunteering tasks that require skills that people of
a certain age do not possess.
- do not have the time, resources and expertise to create
volunteering opportunities for families.
If you found this page helpful, let others know:
up to participate in Watch the Wild, a program of Nature
Abounds: you and your children can observe and report what is
taking place in your community, from trees and plants to
weather and wildlife activity. "In as little as ten minutes,
your observations help us to understand how our eco-systems
are changing and helps us to adapt for the future." All you
need to do is choose a location or route to observe, whether
it be your backyard, a route you drive regularly, or an area
that you and your children play, visit, or hike in regularly,
up to participate, then record your observations and
report them to Watch the Wild/Nature Abounds via mail or
- Pick a day for your family to go through your things and to
pick things to donate to Goodwill. Talk as a family about what
Goodwill does (Goodwill trains people to be able to work;
their stores raise money for their programs, and provide a
training ground for the people they are working with) and why
their work is important.
- Take your family to the grocery and help them to spend just
$25 to put together several meals of non-perishable items, and
then donate those items to the local food bank. Talk together
about nutrition as well as the needs of hungry families, why
some children go hungry in your community, etc.
- Organize a food, clothing or book drive in your
neighborhood or your community of faith. The items should be
donated appropriately (to Goodwill, to the library, to a food
pantry, etc. -- contact the organization for guidelines and
permission BEFORE the drive). Children can help to sort and
- Call your local hospital and ask to speak with the
volunteering coordinator. Ask her if it would be okay for your
children to make get well cards for all the children in the
pediatric unit, how many they should make, and how you would
deliver those to the hospital so that they get to the kids.
Then spend a day with your kids making those cards and talking
about what being in a hospital might be like.
- Make a list of all of the various senior homes in your
immediate area. Call each and find out how many people are
living in each, and if it would be okay for your children to
make and drop off "Have a nice day" cards they have made. Then
spend a day, afternoon or morning making cards for one of
these facilities. As you make the cards, talk to your kids
about the importance of respecting elders, of being kind, etc.
- Practice singing 5 - 10 short songs as a family, and when
you feel you are ready to perform, then call your local
hospital or senior home and see if you could perform there
during lunch or supper for patients or residents. Don't only
do songs related to your family's religion, as not everyone
adheres to that religion; have a few secular songs that anyone
would enjoy, including people who are not religious.
together to support UNICEF. UNICEF's online Volunteer
Center provides activity toolkits and speaker resources
to help you and your family conduct awareness-building and
fundraising activities in your community.
- Start a home-based recycling and reuse program, where you
and your children explore how to recycle things currently not
accepted by your community's curbside recycling program. What
about starting a compost pile? How will you reuse grocery
plastic bags? Could you weave your plastic bags together into
one very strong bag that lasts for many years, or any one of a
number of other items (rugs, place mats, mug rests, ponchos,
toys, laptop case, etc. -- anything that can be knitted or
sewn) and sell them, with the money raised going to an
environmental program? There are a number of web sites that
have free patterns for these crafts and many others.
- Look into Adopt a Soldier programs that allow you and your
kids to send letters and items to soldiers. Plenty of info on
the Internet, like Adopt
- Call your local humane societies, ASPCA chapters and animal
shelters, and ask if your family could:
You can also contact nonprofits and community programs in your
area to see what opportunities they might have. Call early -
don't wait the week before or even the month before an event:
- Make appropriate food treats for dogs and cats and drop
them off at the shelter. You can find a variety of recipes
to make treats for dogs and cats online. As you make these
treats, talk together as a family about the importance of
appropriate nutrition for pets, the importance of having
pets spayed and neutered, how adopting a dog, cat, bird,
rabbit, or any pet means caring for that pet for the life
of the pet (not just until you don't want to anymore), the
challenges faced by animal shelters, etc.
- Make appropriate bedding for dogs and cats and drop
them off at the shelter. You could use scrap materials
gathered from your own home and that of neighbors. There
are lots of suggestions for making your own dog and cat
beds online. As you make these beds, talk together as a
family about the proper care of pets, how adopting a dog,
cat, bird, rabbit, or any pet means caring for that pet
for the life of the pet (not just until you don't want to
anymore), the importance of having pets spayed and
neutered, the challenges faced by animal shelters, etc.
- Organize a dog and cat food and supply drive for the
shelter. If there is a pet food pantry for low-income
people, gather food for the pantry (note that this cannot
be leftover, opened-bags of food; these have to be
unopened packages of pet food).
Each of you should blog about your experience as volunteers,
or each of you can use your FaceBook status updates to talk
about what you are discovering as you volunteer, to further
educate your friends and family. Take and share photos of
yourselves volunteer as well!
- Does your neighborhood or city have a community garden?
They may need help in early Spring to prepare the garden
for growing season, or in the late fall to clean up after
- Call your local state park and see if they have a
children's program that combines education and
volunteering, and volunteer to be a chaperone of they have
such a program so you can participate with your children.
- Girl Scouts of the
USA might be an option if you have girls in your
family; troops engage in community service programs at
least once a year.
- Call Meals on Wheels and volunteer, and see if your
children can accompany you on meal deliveries. Even if
they have to stay in the car, you could use the experience
to teach them about philanthropy and the importance of
being a good neighbor.
- Look for large scale walks or runs in your community.
Might they need help handing out water or juice at a
- Call the city or state agency in charge of a nearby
park, river front or beach front, ask if there will be a
community cleanup, tree-planting day, ivy-clearing day,
invasive plants removal day, etc., any time soon and ask
if there is a minimum age limit to participate.
You are NOT too young to volunteer! Ways
you can volunteer, no matter how young you are
Finding Community Service and
Volunteering for Teens
How to Find Volunteering
Opportunities, a resource for adults who want to
Creating or Holding a Successful
Community Event or Fund Raising Event.
Fund Raising For a Cause or
How you can advocate for an issue
important to you
Volunteering To Help After
How to Make a Difference
Internationally/Globally/in Another Country Without
Using Your Business Skills for Good -
Volunteering Your Business Management Skills, to help
people starting or running small businesses / micro
enterprises, to help people building businesses in
high-poverty areas, and to help people entering or re-entering
the work force.
Details on how to quickly fill a community
service obligation from a court or school.
Ideas for Leadership
These are more than just do-it-yourself volunteering - these
are ideas to create or lead a sustainable, lasting benefit to
a community, recruiting others to help and to have a
leadership role as a volunteer. These can also be activities
for the Girl Scouts Gold Award, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award
(U.K.), a mitzvah project, or even scholarship consideration.
Ideas for Creating Your Own
Donating Things Instead of Cash or
Time (In-Kind Contributions)
Group Volunteering for Atheist and
Helping People Address Their Problems
How to mobilize a community to clean up plastic bottles,
plastic bags and other plastic waste from their environment,
and how to reduce their use of such items in the future
Ideas for Funding Your
Volunteering Abroad Trip.
Careers Working With Animals
(for the benefit of animals)
© 2010 by Jayne
Cravens, all rights reserved. No part of this material can
be reproduced in print or in electronic form without express
written permission by Jayne Cravens.
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Make a Difference
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