We all know volunteering is good for our heart and soul, but getting kids involved can seem challenging. As a mother of four, and longtime volunteer, I’ve learned some tricks to get kids involved in giving back to others.
If you introduce the concept of giving back to others early on it can be easier to make it a habit for kids as young as two! Start with simple things they can easily grasp like giving extra toys to kids in need (Toys for Tots), or spending time visiting a retirement home. Once they are introduced to volunteering you’ll be surprised how creative they can be coming up with ideas to give back.
Take Action: Read Jessica’s series on how she encouraged giving back with her three year old and links to other great ideas.
2. Make it About Them
As kids get older they gain interest in various activities. Whether it’s a sport, dance, academics, or any other hobby there are countless ways they can give back by doing things they love to do. For instance, a child who has a knack for art may create cards for our armed forces who serve overseas (A Million Thanks). Another child whose passion is dance may offer to help out at her dance school with the toddler classes.
Take Action: Talk to your kids and ask them what they would like to do.
3. Find places they can be Included
Many volunteer organizations restrict their volunteers to be over a certain age limit, but if you spend sometime digging you will be able to find places that allow kids to tag along or even organizations that encourage young volunteers. (Cradles to Crayons)
Take Action: Create your own opportunities by organizing a drive, cleanup day at your local park, or go shopping with your kids to create outfit packs for kids in need.
4. Keep it Simple
We’re all busy, and adding another thing to our and our kids schedules can seem like too much, but by keeping it simple you’ll be able to encourage your young volunteers.
Take Action: Consider ways you can keep it simple such as growing extra veggies in your garden.
5. The Family that Volunteers together…
Being a family that gives back means spending more time together as a family, and that can only lead to being happier and healthier. I spoke with a father once who said their family has 3 things they center their family around: education, giving back, and family. If you frame giving back as a family value and everyone ‘walks the walk’ it will be easy for your kids to come up with ideas on their own.
Help Feed Pets in Need
Toyota generously offered us some funds to give back to our local community, and we’ve added our own funds to make a bigger impact. In total we’re donating $200 of pet food to Animal House-a charity that helps pet owners who are struggling financially to keep their pets by providing them with food. This keeps pets out of shelters and in their loving homes. This Saturday we will be delivering our donations, and providing a hand in packaging and handing out food to those in need.
Disclosure: Toyota generously lent us this vehicle to drive and share with readers and a small stipend to help fund our adventures. All opinions are my own. To learn more about the 2014 Sienna visit Toyota.com, and check out the various 2014 Sienna models here.