November is upon us and with this month comes lots of reflection on all we have to be grateful for in our lives. Each year, as I make a conscious effort to be thankful for my loved ones, their health and the home we’ve built together, I soon begin thinking of others who may be in need, especially this time of year. I recently came across the quote, “When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence”, what a beautiful belief. I want to keep this at the forefront of my mind this holiday season, but more importantly, I want to instill this message in my daughter.
It takes a simple google search to find local ways and places to volunteer for adults, but what about families and children? At first glance, it seems that there are few (if any) opportunities for kids to lend a hand in helping others, but after lots of researching and brainstorming I’ve created a list that every family can utilize this holiday season!
10 ways for kids to volunteer
- Donate gently used books, CD’s and DVD’s to your local Nashville library! Sit down with your child and let them help decide which ones would make good donations. This is a great opportunity to teach the importance of donating, giving back and supporting the public library.
- Visit the elderly. Take your kids to spend some quality time with a lonely neighbor, relative, family friend or local nursing home. Kids are the best at cheering people up and providing great entertainment.
- Give a sweet gift to your community helpers to show your appreciation! Let your kids make cards, a sweet craft or even decorate some cookies for their mailman, local police station, school janitors, etc. It’s so important to teach them to show appreciation to those who we so often take for granted.
- Visit and donate to your local animal shelter. Most animal shelters are in need of pet toys, blankets, beds and food. Have your kids help gather, sort, carry and bring the donations. If you call ahead of time, maybe you can even spend some quality time loving on those sweet shelter pets.
- Pick up litter. Head to your favorite park, pack some gloves and trash bags and spend some time picking up all trash. You will all be surprised at how much you find. Cleaning up the litter will teach your kids the importance of cleaning up after themselves and keeping their environment clean. Plus, they can play on the playground as a reward for all of their hard work.
- Lend a helping hand. Know someone who is ill or maybe just overwhelmed with their holiday duties? Let the kids help out by walking someone’s dog, watering plants, bringing over baked goods or raking leaves. We all need some extra help at some point in our lives.
- Donate gently used toys and clothes. Are you kids’ rooms and closets looking a little jam-packed? This is another great opportunity to not only clean out outgrown clothes and toys, but to teach about giving back. Remind them that their toys and clothes will bring lots of happiness to another child.
- Write letters to deployed service members. Everyone loves writing, sending and receiving letters. Imagine the joy your child will spread to the service member overseas who is unable to be with their family throughout the holidays. Take some time to talk to your child about the sacrifices many military members make in order to serve our country.
- Walk to fight a disease or support a good cause. There are lots of local races that offer fun runs for kids to participate in along with their parents. On Thanksgiving, November 26th there is a Turkey Trot in Nashville benefiting Graceworks and it offers a kids kilometer fun run! They’ll be benefiting a good cause and keeping fit!
- Write letters to lobby for causes that are important to them. Maybe their neighborhood needs more sidewalks or a new playground, perhaps their school needs to serve breakfast to low-income students or maybe the local library needs new computers. They can practice their letter writing skills and send their notes to elected officials and school principals.
If you are considering volunteering with your children this year, just remember to keep it safe and age-appropriate. Whatever activity you choose, it is sure to make a positive and lasting impression with your kids!
What are some of your favorite volunteering ideas? We’d love to keep adding to the list of different ways for kids to volunteer!