Creative Ways for Kids to Volunteer
"Hi, I'm calling to see if you would be willing to take a shift at the Church food stand"...a greeting I give several times trying to fill 2-3 hours spots for one of our churches fundrasiers. I approximate that I have to make 3-4 calls for every spot filled. One of the most common reasons people give for not signing up for a spot is that they have no where for their kids to go during that time.
I think my daugther had yet to celebrate her first birthday before she was introduced into the fabulously exciting world of volunteering. Whether at the local food stand, a church bazzar, holiday gift drive, or ringing bells she has done it all...and loves it!
It is important to show our children the importance of volunteering and the best way to do this is by having them jump in and do it while they are young. Below are a few creative ways to get your children to volunteer their time, and most importantly, have fun doing it.
Box Top & Labels
Just about every school, and even some churches and other youth groups, collect such items as box tops, soup labels, milk caps, etc. Have your child talk to relatives and neighbors about saving these items for them and then help them set up a time to collect them. Once collected have them trim them down to the section that is needed and count them into groups. Explain to them that the time they are spending on doing this activity is helping which ever organization is collecting them. Not only is this a great way for young children to work on skills such as cutting and counting, but the organizer of the project will appreciate not having to trim and count them later.
Churches, youth groups, schools, you name it they will have some sort of food stand or bake sale they need help at. While adult supervision is a must, this is a great time to volunteer with your child. Talk with them about how to approach a new customer, take their order, add up the total and collect the money. While the process may take a bit longer than if adults were doing it on their own, most customers will appreciate the fact that young people are helping and will be patient. This is a great opportunity to work with older kids on their communication and money skills.
Clothing, Food, and Gift Drives
Clothing, school supplies, food, Holiday gifts...there is almost always some sort of "drive" taking place that is looking for volunteers. Talk with your child about what the drive is collecting and how it will help others. Maybe they can go thru some of their own items and donate, seek donations from others, perhaps they can help shop for school supplies during summer sales, or collect and sort food donations. The possibilities are endless and the absolutely no age requirements.
My daughter's birthday is in January, immediately following Christmas. As we got ready to celebrate her 6th birthday I asked her what she would like, and she struggled to think of things to put on her list. We had recently adopted a dog from the Humane Society and she remembered that they needed items for the animals to play with. She came up with the idea that she would like her friends to bring "presents for the animals" instead of her. This was the start of a great tradition.
In the following years she has had her friends bring "presents" for children affected by Hurricane Katrina, their favorite boxed meal or cereal for our local food pantry, and school supplies for Kinship, Her friends continue to look forward to "who" they are going to be buying presents for each year, and several have incorporated similar types of birthdays of their own.
In todays society the importance and need for volunteers is rising. When are kids are young we have to perfect opportunity to demonstrated the importance of donating your time, and show them how doing so can be a form of quality family time.