Every parent wants to raise children who are thoughtful, kind, and considerate. Volunteering together as a family is an excellent way to communicate values to children and teach them to think about others. Even the smallest hands can make a big difference, and here are some simple ways to teach children about the impact of their involvement.
Use Change to Make a Change
Giving back doesn’t have to be expensive. Taping change to a vending machine can bring a smile to a stranger’s face. Parents can also leave a roll of quarters and some detergent at the local laundry mat. Young children love having the responsibility of putting the change in The Salvation Army kettle during the holidays.
Homemade Treats for Community Heroes
First responders work long shifts away from their families every day, even on important holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Visiting the local fire and police stations to bring them a special treat can be great fun. Kids can get involved in making easy recipes for cookies, brownies, or muffins. Fresh donuts or biscuits are a great option for people who don’t like to bake. This is a fantastic way to teach children to respect and honor the real heroes in their communities.
Caring for the Elderly
Many older people suffer from loneliness. Kids can help elderly neighbors with simple chores, like raking leaves or shoveling snow. If the neighbor is a stranger, they could take them a small gift, like warm socks and candy. Seniors who live in nursing homes are often isolated and can suffer from depression. Children can make cards or drawings and distribute them to the residents. If the children are outgoing, they could sing for the seniors during the visit around the holidays.
Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents is a non-profit founded by an eleven-year-old girl, Ruby Chitsey, after she was inspired by volunteering with the elderly. Ruby’s mother worked in a nursing home and Ruby learned that many residents only receive $40 a month to cover their needs outside of room and board. Ruby raised over $250,000 to help impoverished seniors afford simple things like new shoes, strawberries, and fast food treats. This is just one exemplary scenario where a child has made a monumental difference in their community.
According to the Mayo Clinic, volunteering can reduce the risk of depression, lower stress levels, improve self-confidence, and even increase longevity. Getting kids involved in volunteering and philanthropy is just as good for them as it is for the community.