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Volunteering With Children: How Kids Can Make a Difference

Updated on August 14, 2012
Grace and Alex are raising money for our Relay for Life by having a lemonade stand.
Grace and Alex are raising money for our Relay for Life by having a lemonade stand. | Source

Teaching Children to Give Back to the Community

We live in a very narcissistic society. Every time that you turn on the television or head to the check out line at the grocery store, there is some show or article about how someone acted out in some way because they felt they were owed one thing or another. Much of the television shows on tv are now “reality” based and the premise of most of the shows is how radical can I be in order to have the highest ratings and hence make the most money. So how as responsible parents do we compete with that kind of display? I’ll save my rant about how parents are responsible for limiting what and how much our children view for another hub. For this hub is about how we can guide our children to give back to others in need.

So as a parent of two young children, who essentially want for nothing, how do I guide them to understand that it is an act of humanity to see those in need and help in ways that they are able? My mother was a wonderful role model in seeing the humanity in others and teaching my sister and myself to have compassion for others, however we were not very active in philanthropy. This is one area that I feel that I can build upon the foundation that was started by my mother and bring it to the next level for my own children.

My nephew Marco is selling bracelets that we made to raise more money for the American Cancer Society.
My nephew Marco is selling bracelets that we made to raise more money for the American Cancer Society. | Source

How old should children be to give to others in need?

It is my personal belief that the younger that you start to teach your children the importance of giving to others, the more thoughtful, compassionate people that they will become. Just as we don't wait until kindergarten to introduce our children to books or letters or numbers, the earlier that they start, the more a part of them it will become. These acts of giving back do not have to be huge endeavors. Start small and help your child to understand why you are doing the things that you are doing.

Children and Giving

For additional information on how to build your child's sense of giving, check out this great hub about Mentoring A Child On Giving by teaches12345.

Acts of Kindness to Others

Giving to others does not have to mean a monetary or object donation. A simple act of kindness it giving back to someone who needs help. These acts of kindness can be simple things that may be very easy for you but would mean the world to someone else. For example, you could encourage your older child to cut the grass or shovel the snow for an elderly or disabled neighbor. You could help your children organize a toy drive for other children in a women's or homeless shelter.

While getting an airbrush tattoo, Alex is giving money to the American Cancer Society.
While getting an airbrush tattoo, Alex is giving money to the American Cancer Society. | Source

Donating to Charities

Donating can mean many things to many people. For some it means donating your time, for others it means giving money or goods to others who are less fortunate. So what can children donate?

  • Toys, books, and stuffed animals. Go through your belongings and choose items that you no longer use but are in relatively good condition.
  • Time. We seem to have so little time these days. Busy is a four letter word in today's world. It is important that we schedule time to give back to others. There are many ways that children can do participate.
  • Money. Perhaps donate a percentage of your allowance, birthday or Christmas money to a charitable organization.
  • Canned or boxed foods. Especially with the economy today, food banks are always low on food for the underprivileged. Help your child to organize a food drive for one of these organizations.

My sister Christa and my niece Olivia are making bracelets to sell.
My sister Christa and my niece Olivia are making bracelets to sell. | Source

Fundraising Activities for Kids

I have participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life for the last three years. Each year my own experience in the event has grown and I have become much more involved. I have always brought my children (now three and four) to participate in the activities. In the past they have shared in the event by spending money at booths for different things and the money will be donated by that team to the American Cancer Society. This was how they "donated."

I decided that this year they were old enough to participate in the fundraising. Fundraising can be tough to do. They too were participating in the walk and I wanted them to understand not just why we were walking but the process of raising money for the walk. So during our garage sale they had a lemonade and cookie sale. We placed a sign that the money would be donated to the American Cancer Society and people were very generous with their donations. My kids were able to raise almost $25 from their lemonade stand. Not too bad for a day's work.

Children often do fundraising for their schools so they will have a concept of what this means. But what about having a fundraiser at school for a charitable cause? My school is a uniform school. My principal allowed our students to "dress down" for $1 one day and that money went toward my cancer walk. The kids were able to help in the fundraising and have a little something extra at the same time.

At our church's Vacation Bible School this summer, they held a penny contest. It was set up so that the boys competed against the girls to see who could bring in the most pennies. Each day they were counted and announced to encourage the children to bring in more the next day. In the end the kids raised almost $350 for a local charity. The idea was simple, the kids had fun, and they help an organization in need.

Opportunities for Giving Back

Philanthropic Opportunities 
Age Range 
Reading to the elderly, ill, or very young. 
School aged children who have already learned to read. 
nursing homes, hospitals 
Donating toys, stuffed animals, books 
2 years + 
women's/children's shelters, children's hospitals, even less fortunate schools 
Giving money 
all ages 
church, non-profit organizations, any place that would have meaning to your child 
Prepare food boxes for the less fortunate
4 or 5 years +
local food bank
Serve meals
7 years +
local soup kitchen or homeless shelter

This is a small list of ideas to help children get started in giving back.

Getting Started

It doesn't really matter what you decide to do to get started, the point is to start. Compassion is something that is found in children naturally but can be lost if not fostered. By creating opportunities for your children to give back to others in some way, you are developing a sense of humanity in them. The more often that you provide and encourage these opportunities for them, the more natural that they will become for them as they grow into independent members of society. I know that those are the kind people that I want in the world around me.


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    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      I'm so glad that this hub helped you out Kimberly. Thanks so much for visiting!

    • Kimberly Vaughn profile image

      Kimberly Vaughn 

      8 years ago from Midwest

      I have been looking for a way that my son and I could volunteer together. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks parentsreview. We live in such an ego-centric society that I feel it is a valuable skill that my children need to know. It's nice to know that others feel the same way.

      I agree FrannieDee that children emulate what they see from their parents. I try to keep that in mind as I move through each day. Thanks for stopping by.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Eddy, I appreciate the comments and vote up! You have a great day as well!

      I agree completely ChaplinSpeaks. That is why I include my kids in this activity each year. Thanks for stopping by.

      Thanks Bail Up! I agree that it is a great way to make some changes this year. So glad you stopped by.

    • Frannie Dee profile image

      Frannie Dee 

      9 years ago from Chicago Northwest Suburb

      I wasn't here when this Hub originally circulated but I'm glad I caught it today. This shows practical ways of helping others and provides real examples. Children learn best by emulating their parents.

    • parentsreview profile image


      9 years ago from Lansdowne, PA

      These are some great ideas! It's good to teach children to think of others.

    • Bail Up ! profile image

      Bail Up ! 

      9 years ago

      Excellent hub in teaching children the value of compassion and helping those less fortunate than themselves. Very timely too, as the New Year is here maybe some will be encouraged to make it part of their Years resolution. Very nicely done.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 

      9 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Awesome Hub! Very important topic, and I especially like the chart you included. Kids are never too young to learn how to give back!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      9 years ago from Wales

      A great hub and thank you for sharing so a vote up it has to be.

      Take care and enjoy your day.


    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for the good laugh for today. If I had that power I'd gladly spread lottery numbers around to my hubber friends in private emails.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Gail, it was quite a surprise! Since you are so clairvoyant, could you email me the lottery numbers! :) Thanks for all of your encouragement.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      Congratulations on winning TWO Hubbie Awards! Best Teacher & Most Likely to Become a Hub Pages Employee.

      Bravo! You had my vote as you can see by what I wrote on this Hub 3 weeks ago!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for reading and commenting fashion. I completely agree with you.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great idea for a hub.Our children really need this very important way of life.great job

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Agreed Hennie. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

      Thank you Wisie for your contribution. I agree that it is an important quality to instill in children and it is our job to grow mindful children. Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Beautiful hub!!!

      Raising children to be compassionate and caring who value kindness and charity is essentially the responsibility of the parents. It is essential to instill these values right from the childhood so that our kids grow up to be caring people who think for the good of others and never shy away from giving.

      Thank you for a wonderful and insightful hub!

      This hub too talks about raising charitable and responsible children. Do visit it sometime:

    • HennieN profile image


      9 years ago from South Africa

      Children learn by example. If we give, no matter where, children will learn from us and apply this in life. On the other hand, if we do not give ...

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      I agree Stephen. We live in a society that promotes self and not others. Hopefully parents can work to make a change within society. Glad you stopped by to read and comment.

    • Stephen Kalu profile image

      stephen kalu 

      9 years ago from Nigeria

      Great hub, its good for parents to teach their children how to give back. Most children as a result of not being taught on how to give back grow to become stingy even to their own family.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      I agree Angemac23. Unfortunately there are many parents who do not feel the same way. As a teacher, I find that many parents feel that it is my job not just to educate their child, but also to socialize them. Thanks for reading!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Yikes DML! How sad for that young person that he does not see the value in giving. Hopefully as gets a little older, he will mature and change his thinking. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      What a great opportunity for you to participate in something like that at school Vitalesweets. We never did anything like that at school but we did through Girl Scouts. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

      Thanks Bethan, I appreciate your encouragement! Glad you enjoyed it.

      You get so much more in return when you give Adeaugustus. I wish more people would realize this and put it into practice.

      Thanks for sharing that Moms-Secret! I'm definitely going to check that out. Sounds like a great class project for my students this year. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • angemac23 profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      Parents are at the forefront of teaching children these things!! Afterall, they are the future and if society does not start picking up the slack now, imagine what the world will be like in 50 years if it keeps going the way it is not! It all starts at home!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      I agree Practical Mommy! Thanks for the congrats.

      Thanks for your encouragement Flora. I enjoy volunteering as well. Sometimes it's hard to find the time but it is so important.

      What a wonderful event that your daughter and family are able to experience! We have a good friend who has a son with severe CP. My kids just adore spending time with him and are learning a lot about others being different. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      Our schools do a lot of school fundraising as well. This year our new principal allowed us to do some fundraising for other causes and I think it really helps children have an awareness of the world around them. Talk to the principal, he/she may allow it. Good luck and thanks for reading.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      It's never too early to start Nikkiraeink. You can start with some very simple things like donating old clothes or toys. Good luck to you and thanks for reading!

      In my opinion BakerRambles, it's all about the example that we set for our children. I'm sure with the lead that you set for your daughter, she will be an amazing asset to the world around her. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      I agree RTalloni. Thanks for the congrats!

      It is a fantastic feeling when you give to others. How wonderful that your children are experiencing it early in life. Keep up the great work and thanks for reading and sharing your experiences.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Gail! You are always so wonderfully encouraging!

      I agree Peter. I'm sure that you did a wonderful job in raising your children with those important qualities. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on my hub.

      Ah Kyle, the dreaded tv! While the tv is fine, there is much more to life than that. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it and I appreciate your kind comments.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      What a great idea Kristine, a button to be able to narrate your hub! Thanks so much for your encouragement. I agree that children need to do this much more today.

      I'm glad you liked it rafatalam73. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Wow Reg5566, what a compliment! I'm glad that you enjoyed the hub and encouraged you to do something positive this weekend. What a great opportunity that station provided for the community! I wish that a station would do something like that around here. It's great to hear from a fellow Michigander! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    • Moms-Secret profile image


      9 years ago from Central Florida

      I have made giving and respecting our planet a daily lesson in our household. I am part of a couponing community who uses coupons to help other households thru donations. We also donate to our troops using the Troopon program. Feel free to stop by at anytime and read about how your kids can help.

      Every Christmas we participate in the shoe box drive which is fun. We recycle all of our paper at her school recycle bins which raises funds for her school. We give to charity as much as we can but that is not an everyday thing. Love your picture. My child has been asking me about a lemonade stand forever...

    • BethanRose profile image


      9 years ago from South Wales

      What a great hub, with a positive message. Voted up! Oh, and congratulations on hub of the day! :)

    • vitalesweets profile image


      9 years ago from Upstate NY

      Thanks for sharing this information. As you mentioned, it's never to early for books, etc so there is no excuse. Every parent should take action in providing their children with ways to show compassion for others. When I was in elementary school I still remember singing at a nursing home with my class and I can clearly remember how grateful they were. Made me feel good then and still does!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      9 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congrats on Hub of the Day!

      Fantastic subject matter. It breaks my heart that today's youth seem so universally out of touch and have such a misplaced sense of entitlement.

      Those so-called "reality" TV shows are disgusting, and I refuse to watch them. They may be SOME people's "reality," but there is nothing real about them. They emphasize being selfish and shallow.

      One young man I know, whose identity I shall not mention, recently turned 18, and in order to fill in missing credits for graduation, was required to do 20 hours of community service. He procrastinated to the point of having to request an extension because when he finally got around to it, the hours would not be completed until past the deadline.

      Once done, he had to write a report on the experience. He concluded said report by stating, "It's not something I would ever do again, because it was too much work for no money."

      I know he was not raised to think this way..he's fallen in with a very narcissistic group of "friends" at school. But, he's 18 now, and all full of that "I'm an adult now; you can't tell me anything" machismo. It sickens me.

      Great hub--Voted up and awesome!

    • Keeley Shea profile image

      Keeley Shea 

      9 years ago from Norwich, CT

      Excellent hub! My children do fundraising for their school and sports team, but it would be great to get them involved in something outside of school or raising money for their sports team too.

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 

      9 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Great hub! I have seen firsthand the kindness and generosity of kids who have obviously been taught by their parents. My daughter has cerebral palsy and every year in our community there is a fundraiser for kids w/ CP. This year, my daughter's first-grade class donated money to Faith's team - they used their allowance, toothfairy money and took money out of their piggy banks. It is a wonderful thing to see a child understand the act of giving to others in need.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on your hub of the day honour. This is a wonderful idea. I have always loved volunteering my time.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image


      9 years ago from United States

      What a great hub! It's never too early to learn to give back. Congrats on the hub of the day! :)

    • Diane Lockridge profile image

      Diane Lockridge 

      9 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      For the most part my kids are excited when they grow out of their clothing & , because it means they can share it with younger cousins, or donate the stuff to the church.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh how children need to learn the positives of giving at an early age!

      Congrats on a well-deserved award!

    • BakerRambles profile image


      9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thank you for sharing both the personal and philanthropic qualities in community service for children. It was well thought out and im not surprised you made hub of the day. I have a 11 month old daughter that I hope one day will make a difference in society. You've made my day, thank you.

    • nikkiraeink profile image


      9 years ago from So. Cal.

      Great hub! My daughter is 16 months old and I can't wait to start volunteering with her and showing her how people can help each other. Thank you for the ideas!

    • Kyle Rivers profile image

      Kyle Rivers 

      9 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Finally the remedy to get children off the TV, and teach them to help others! I loved this article. Well written, and highly detailed. You deserve the Hub of the Day! Voted up!

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image


      9 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Compassion and understanding are the two greatest gifts you can give to your kids. I know I tried and hope I succeeded, the world today needs these two character traits desparately. Thanks for the great ideas, Peter

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      Congratulations on having another Hub of the Day! It was so cool to see your adorable kids on the main HP page. Such happy smiling faces and for a good cause, too!

    • reg5566 profile image


      9 years ago from Santa Clarita, Ca.

      That was about the best Hub that I read. You touched on a subject that is close to my heart. Back in may here in California a news station ABC ran a contest on "Pay if Forward" which you enter the Charity that touches you and the community,and they picked 10 of the best.The prize was they donated to that charity $5000. That sparked a new life in the people of Los Angles. We need to take time to give back starting at any age,from 3 to 96 years old. That all starts at the home and need it also in the classroom. In this article you outline some excellent points. I hope that action will be taken on this. I know I will this weekend. Thanks my fellow Michigander. (am originally from Mich.) Thanks...


    • rafatalam73 profile image


      9 years ago

      Its really amazing.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 

      9 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      What a wonderful Hub. Our children nowadays need this very important way of life - giving back. I wish you could narrate this Hub in audio so it could be heard as well. Voted Up!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks so much Sunshine! I'm actually on vacation and woke up a little early to check emails, etc. and found this great surprise. We actually had a few people at the lemonade stand say the same thing. It is a great booster for kids. So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for commenting!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      9 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Congrats on being Hub Of The Day! Very useful hub on how to teach kids to be more giving and responsible. I don't drink lemonade but when I still purchase lemonade from each child having a sale. How could anyone NOT? It's about adults giving back to the kids for the smile :)Voted UP!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Well how can I not hit the "approve" button on a comment like that?! I am so honored to have the nomination. I really appreciate all of your support and feedback since joining HP. I treasure your thoughts and comments. A truly sincere thank you Gail.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      Am nominating you for the "Best HubPages Teacher" Hubbie Award because you seem to teach wherever you go whether it be in your own house, at your teaching job or here on Hub Pages where your hubs have become an excellent role model for fellow hubbers like myself.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Simone, you are too kind! I appreciate all of the props but the jury is still out on how awesome of a mother I am. I think I'll have to wait about 15 years before I really find out! Please, take as many pages from my book as you need. :) My goal is to help parents see how their children can make a difference in others' lives and create compassionate people. So I hope it helps!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      9 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow, cardelean. You're an AWESOME mother. Should I ever find myself caring for younglings, I'm going to try to take a leaf out of your book! This is a great Hub, and I hope it inspires parents to instill this healthier outlook in their kids as well. We need more parents like you out there!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      I don't say anything that I don't mean. You are a wonderful role model for your family. Thanks for the comment!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Cara-what a great hub. Thanks for the remarks-that was a sweet compliment. :) Voted up and awesome with the photos and great chart.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Pamela. I agree that it feels good to give to a worthy cause and am trying to teach my children that. I can only hope that my children do an even better job than me!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is a terrific hub. I wish more parents raised their children the way you are as you always get more in return that anything you give. It really is a great feeling to help someone else or help a worthy cause. Rated up!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Wow thanks visionandfocus for the links! I really appreciate it. Children who are compassionate grow up to be adults who are compassionate and that is what I envision for my children. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • visionandfocus profile image


      9 years ago from North York, Canada

      What a wonderful hub! Compassion for others is one of the most important lessons a child can learn at an early age, and I love the myriad ways you've cited, and you even included the appropriate age range. I'm linking to this from a couple of my hubs--including one on important lessons we have to teach our children. Thanks for sharing! Voted up, helpful, beautiful and awesome!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for the kind comment Randomcreative. I try to teach my children to have compassion for others. It is not always easy for them to understand at their young age but they're getting there! Thanks for visiting.

      Travel Man, I agree that it's a good cause. I try to be a good role model for my own children as well as for my students. I'm happy to share my knowledge with others. And good luck with those nieces and nephews! :)

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 

      9 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      This is a very good cause! Children are always inspired when adults or parents teach them good ways to give back.

      Thanks for sharing this!

      PS. I'll tell my nephews and nieces to be like them! :D

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      9 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great topic for a hub. You're doing a wonderful job with this notion with your own children. I hope that others will follow your model.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Gail. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. They were pretty funny yelling lemonade for sale all afternoon. Some people just dropped money in their cup and didn't want anything at all. And thanks for the congrats on HP elite. :)

      Thank you Aunt Danette, I try. I had great role models from my family! :)

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      9 years ago from Illinois

      Hey Cara, You're doing a great job with Grace and Alex teaching them what's really important in life. Children learn to show compassion and help others by watching how the adults around them live and behave. So kudos to you on both fronts!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      Fantastic hub with great ideas on how to raise caring, compassionate kids who give back to their community! How could anyone resist buying lemonade from 2 tykes as cute as Alex and Grace? Love all the photos and also how your nephew, niece and sister were also involved in the giving.

      btw: Congratulations on your HubPages Elite status!


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