I have enjoyed doing volunteer work for over 10 years now. It is something that goes hand in hand with my own theory of what our purpose is here on earth. Helping each other seems to be the only way we are able to make in as a family, community or world. As we all know, no man stands alone.
Here is a guest post from Cindy Hudson. You may remember her from my previous review. Cindy Hudson is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press, October 2009). Over the years she has volunteered with Girl Scout troops, school groups, mother-daughter book clubs, and her family and friends. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two daughters. Visit her online at www.MotherDaughterBookClub.com.
Volunteering with your children can teach them more than how to be compassionate for others and caring of the world around them. It can also teach them skills, boost their self confidence, and help them appreciate people of different backgrounds and beliefs. Plus, when you volunteer together, you engage in a family activity and meet others who are also interested in the organization you help out.
If you’re convinced that volunteering is a good thing, you may wonder how old your kids should be before you sign them up for a cause and how you can decide where to spend your time. Here are a few ideas to help you decide.
· Match the activity to the age of your child. Many organizations set age restrictions for volunteering on site. But younger children can always work behind the scenes. For instance, if they love animals they can hold a neighborhood blanket and towel drive to benefit the local Humane Society. They can collect canned goods to deliver to your area’s food bank. They may be willing to give up gently used books they’ve outgrown and ask their friends to do the same to benefit a literacy organization.
· As they grow, your kids can take on bigger tasks, like planting native plants or pulling weeds in a local park, and helping you deliver meals to the elderly. Older teens can even use the skills they have and learn new ones by helping to build or spruce up homes for the disadvantaged.
· Think about your interests to help you decide where to give your time. Many non-profit organizations can be broken down into three broad categories: human welfare, environmental welfare, or animal welfare.
· Once you define your broad category, think about the things your family members like to do. For instance, if you all like being outdoors, you can work at a community garden for a local food bank to benefit human welfare. You can help clean up litter from local beaches or river banks to help the environment. Contributing to animal welfare may involve participating in a backyard bird count or helping restore a wild habitat.
You may also want to consider volunteering more than once with the same organization so you can see the changes your work makes over time. For instance, if you join a work party at a local park several times, when you visit the park any time you may be able to see others enjoying the trees you planted or the paths you cleared.
Check these online sites for more ideas on how your whole family can get involved in helping out: