by guest contributor Monica Priest, Volunteer Kalamazoo
We here at Volunteer Kalamazoo hear from many families with young children that finding volunteer activities for the whole family can be difficult. We sympathize. While it is true liability issues can keep nonprofits from allowing younger children to volunteer on site, there are ways around this. Start by looking at the needs in your immediate family.
Volunteerism Can Begin At Home
Teaching children the spirit of volunteerism can begin at home. Children can help by volunteering to do an extra chore for Mom or Day, to clean out a flower bed for grandma, or sort their gently used clothes and toys to donate to kids in need. These types of volunteer jobs will teach young children how to identify opportunities they can give back. Once you have established a giving environment at home, you can take it to the streets.
Look around your neighborhood and talk with your children about needs they see. Do you have an elderly neighbor that could use some help getting their mail? Could your neighborhood curbs use some TLC, maybe some flowers? Are their volunteer opportunities at your child’s school? By talking with your children about needs they see and how they can make a difference, you are building their problem solving skills while encouraging compassion and caring. But what if you don’t live in a neighborhood?
Creating A Sense Of Community
Just because you don’t live in a neighborhood does not mean you cannot create a sense of community for your kids. As a family, talk about what needs you have seen/experienced, and reach out to community partners to see how your family can help make a difference. You could hold a food/clothing drive, or grow vegetables in your garden to donate to a local shelter. You could make no-sew fleece blankets for kids in the foster care system. There are many ways to give back which will allow your family to put their own ideas into action.
For more ideas on how your family can identify some projects, or quick volunteer project ideas, visit these helpful resources:
Doing Good Together – (check out their books section)
About the Contributor:
Monica Priest is the program manager for Volunteer Kalamazoo. She is a WMU graduate with 5+ years of experience working in the nonprofit sector and has her certification in Nonprofit Management. Together with her husband and two children, Monica enjoys camping, gardening, and of course- volunteering.