One of the best ways of teaching your kids about selflessness is by finding volunteer opportunities for kids that are available in your local community.
A youth volunteer opportunity can be almost anything, from community service to helping out at a nursing home. It just depends on your child’s age.
If you want your kids to learn when they’re still in elementary school, have them help a neighbor out with his chores or have them join a local initiative to pick up trash littering the park grounds.
You’d be surprised at how aware young children are about their surroundings and how satisfied they feel when they get to see their efforts make a difference, even on a small scale.
It doesn’t always have to be working under a nonprofit organization or something that gets a lot of coverage on social media networks, most kids won’t care whether or not it’s a big-name initiative.
When Can You Start Looking For Volunteering Opportunities?
Well, there’s no set-in-stone minimum age that your kids can start volunteering, but generally it should be an age that you’re comfortable having them do these things without it feeling like they’re being forced into it.
The best way to go about it is to slowly progress them through it.
As mentioned before, it’s best to start younger children off with easy things like doing a nice deed for an elderly neighbor every once in a while – taking the trash out or helping to cut or weed the lawn.
It probably won’t even count as volunteering in any book because the neighbors are more than likely to award their efforts in some manner, but it’s a good start and a great opportunity to prepare your children for later volunteer work.
When your kids hit puberty and become teen volunteers, they’ll be able to seek local organizations out themselves, whether through their middle school/high school, by locating them through online searches, or with some help from you.
This is usually the time where they can do things with a broader impact on the community at large.
Her are some fine examples:
1. Donate to a food bank or food pantry to help feed the homeless or war veterans who are having trouble finding employment after returning from active duty.
2. Help out at a soup kitchen to serve hot meals to those who need them most, (plus, they’ll up a thing or two about cooking in the process).
3. Aid a local animal shelter to help find stray animals a good home and provide a warm environment for them to grow up in.
4. Being a Red Cross youth volunteer by either donating blood or helping work the annual blood drives that they organize that end up helping save millions of lives nationwide.
5. Replant trees to help save the environment and fight deforestation.
6. Assist in larger clean-up efforts than just the neighborhood.
7. Travel abroad to be volunteers in global communities that need such aid by helping deliver supplies and books others send in.
8. Build and tend to a community garden in their school or the neighborhood to grow food that can later be donated to food banks and pantries for the less fortunate.
9. Donate their old textbooks to kids in third-world countries who could use them to improve their education and quality of life.
10. Be part of the “Meals on wheels” volunteer program and help provide senior citizens with a meal that they’re unable to make themselves.
11. Assist elderly folks at a nursing home and provide them with the warmth and kindness that they deserve.
12. Help lead or organize fundraisers for a community member or minority group who have fallen on hard times and need a pick-me-up from the rest of the community.
These are only the most common volunteer projects young teens can contribute to. There are plenty more out there depending on the needs in your local community or the world at large at the time.
Where To Find Volunteer Opportunities For Kids
While you can probably find places to volunteer almost anywhere, the best place to start is through the one I had mentioned a bit earlier: the internet.
YSA (Youth Service America) is a great place to start as it allows you to seek volunteer opportunities based on the type that your kid might be interested in.
It also helps search by zip code, so you’re able to pinpoint local nonprofit organizations and efforts, be it in NYC, Washington, LA, or anywhere else.
It’s a quick and easy way to find volunteer work.
A wonderful volunteer group that doesn’t focus on the community as a whole, but rather the youth by helping provide them the mentoring they need to become the future leaders of our nation.
This, in turn, will hopefully provide your kids the knowledge and confidence to plan and organize efforts of their own to help the community, be it through food drives and fundraisers, or even by providing new job opportunities, depending on how well the knowledge serves them.
Another wonderful site with a similar use and purpose to YSA. It just ends up boiling down to preference of which one you like better.
That said, Volunteer Match does offer searching for specific nonprofit organizations and even some online volunteering opportunities.
Dosomething aims to help everyone out, especially the communities of oppressed minorities in the US who have it hardest.
They’re a modern volunteer organization that’s a bit more in touch with the youth of today and their efforts may resonate better with your kids should they choose to partake in them.
If your kids are more into helping preserve our ecosystem – something I am always encouraging my kids to do – then The Nature Conservancy initiative may be right up their alley.
The goal to protect the nature we live in that keeps gifting us so generously is a noble one.
This organization aims to do just that by tackling the problems of air pollution that cities generate, wastewater dumping from big industries, and careless disregard of nature in general.
Do Your Kids Have To Volunteer To Become Better People?
While many people will have you believe things like these are a necessity, they really aren’t.
There’s a reason it’s called volunteering. It’s not compulsory and no sane person will think any less of them for choosing not to take part in it.
The only difference is that you might have to teach them about selflessness in some other way, but they’ll be able to pick that and other positive traits up from other places. Volunteering isn’t the be-all-end-all of all goodness.
Besides, sometimes kids simply don’t have the time or just don’t feel like volunteering at all. If that’s the case, there’s absolutely no need to force them to do it.Besides, you’ll only end up making it worse rather than better.
Too many parents try doing that because they go in with the mentality of “You haven’t tried it yet, you’re gonna like it.”
If my experience as a mother and also as someone who’s been on the receiving end of that behavior has taught me anything, it’s that they won’t – they’ll just fake it to make their parents happy.
Volunteer opportunities for kids are a great way to engage your child in some charitable activities, help broaden their horizons, and show them the bigger picture, as well as help them pick up some commendable traits and life skills along the way.
The options for volunteering are vast and diverse. To not put your child off it from the get-go, work with them to find opportunities that cover an area they’re going to enjoy.
Helping out at the animal shelter is usually the most well received, as not only do they get to take care of all the cute little animal friends, they get to also feel the fruits of their labors right back .
And remember, don’t force them into doing charity work – then it stops being volunteering and turns into a chore. And nobody is going to benefit from that.
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