Tips to Get Kids Involved in Community Service
Community Service Projects
My son’s high school has a policy that every student, every year, must donate a minimum of fifteen hours to a charity of their choosing. My wife and I think that this is a wonderful policy and one that we support wholeheartedly. We feel that he has had a really good childhood and volunteering a few hours of his time is a pretty small request. It is also a great reminder that there are people who might be less fortunate, so be thankful for what you have.
I don’t want to sound like my parents or anything but my kids’ generation has things that are way different then when I was growing up. Everything has become digital and it is so easy for them to not have person to person interactions. Our youth also has so many forms of technology it has become very convenient to communicate through their thumbs instead of face to face. Who else has had their kids pause in panic when they have to make a phone call with another person?
For me, the biggest part is having them do something that they enjoy. I recognize that some kids will disagree we anything that you offer but there really are opportunities out there that they can do, and not be bored out of their minds.
It would also be very beneficial if they would have an open mind going into the volunteering opportunity. If they have an open mind the chances of them actually enjoying themselves increases substantially. I’m sure they can’t possibly think that volunteering some of their valuable time can be fun but it really can be, if they allow it. It really comes down to them permitting themselves to feel the joy that can occur by assisting someone else out that doesn’t have it as good as they do.
Do Your Children Volunteer?
Places to Volunteer
Picking the right opportunity is absolutely critical to a positive outcome to the whole volunteering experience. Like I mentioned, try to find something that fits into their interests for the best possible outcome. I would suggest reaching out to the organization that you are hoping to help and asking if they have any specific requirements that you might need to know about. Some places will not allow minors to volunteer or the volunteer might have to lift a certain amount of weight. Whatever the details might be discuss them, so there are no surprises later on. The last thing you want to happen is to take your child there to only find out that there is some kind of snag and they can’t move forward. Such a disappointment might turn them off to the whole darn thing.
Here is an example of a simple volunteering exercise, coming into our son’s freshmen year he already had accrued his fifteen hours, plus a couple of extra ones for good measure. He was able to accomplish this because I coach a park and recreation baseball team every July and August for our city and he was my “assistant coach”. The kids ranged from eleven to thirteen and having this big fourteen year old out there with his All-Star hat on gave him instant credibility to these kids. I cannot begin to describe how enjoyable it was for me to coach these players with my son assisting, I was very proud to hear how he was simplifying the proper ways to throw the ball or swing the bat. It certainly made me feel that I did something right along the way.
Another avenue is working with animals because a majority of kids love animals. Many animal shelters have anemic budgets and will take all of the help they can get. The kids can help feed the animals or maybe get stalls and cages cleaned up a little bit.
If your family is actively involved members at your church give them a call, they might need help with something as well. Simple tasks like preparing for Sunday service or even tidying things up are usually available to help with.
A less glamorous opportunity is to work at a food bank or a soup kitchen. This experience shouldn’t be entertained if your child is more on the emotional side. Seeing so many people struggling to find something to eat might be too much for some children to process. On the other hand it might really benefit those kids that do not understand homelessness and hunger; use your best judgment on this one.
Positive Mental Attitude
A positive attitude is a must when you are volunteering your time, anywhere. If you are complaining or moping around while doing your chores it makes for a very negative and depressing atmosphere. If the child will not open up and possibly enjoy themselves they really need to “suck it up” and keep a smile on their face. I would explain to them how they have certain luxuries while others do not. Cater this conversation to what kind of volunteer work they are going to do. If they are going to help out at animal shelter remind them that these animals just want someone to love them and to have a home. Ask them how they would feel if they didn’t have their favorite pet. An open dialog and some education should help reduce keep the negativity at bay.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying yourself when you are volunteering. If you take a look around you could probably find someone enjoying their time every day while volunteering. All youth sports coaches are volunteering their time. The parents that help stop traffic so you can safely cross the street at school have a smile on their face don’t they? The people that are standing outside of the grocery store trying to get signatures for something are respectful when they ask for your time right? These are good examples of people volunteering their free time to an organization that they feel passionately about and still keeping a positive outlook. Deep down they know that their contribution is helping their cause out and it makes them feel good about giving a few hours to it.
Don’t let your kids be afraid to get out there and help your community in any way that they can. Volunteering builds great character and helps construct a very strong foundation for our children to continue maturing into responsible adults in our society. Just imagine how better our world could be if we all just helped someone out else out once in a while?
Places to Volunteer
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 David