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Volunteering For All Ages
Volunteering is a great thing for all of us to do. It gives us the chance to give back to the community, to help others, and to make a difference in the world that we live in. It is also a great way to help out children learn responsibility, learn how to put others before themselves, and learn to be giving and helpful. Volunteering side by side with your children is often a great way to do it and can even be a lot of fun. There are tons of different opportunities for volunteering in most communities. Some are simple commitments that require a single day, others take a longer term commitment. Choose something that you and your children will enjoy. Children can start volunteering at a young age, so start early for maximum benefits. Here are just a few volunteer ideas.
Community Clean Up
Whether you join another agency or you do it as a family community clean up can mean a lot. Trash is bad for the environment, looks bad for a city, and just isn't a good thing to have laying around. You can go through a park or pick a road side to pick things up. Wheter as a family or a group it can be a great way to help out. Keep in mind a few safety issues:
- Clothing- You should always wear jeans, real shoes, and socks while cleaning up. this will protect you from bugs, sharp edges, and other hazards.
- Gloves- It is always a good idea to wear gloves to help protect you hands.
- Know the specific hazards of your area- If you live in a place where hazards may include animal life and bugs then it is a good idea to know what these hazards are and how to protect yourself. It is also a good idea to know if used needles could be a hazard of your area.
- Take your kids to a kid safe zone- Your 12 year old will do fine along side a busy road, but younger kids should have a safer place to clean up. You could choose an empty lot, a park, or a local parking lot to fit the safety needs of your younger children.
- Joining a group can make a larger impact- While it isn't necessary, joining a group can be helpful. Check out the list of possibilities in the "Organizations That Help Others" section.
Organizations That Help Others
Sometimes getting started can be hard. You don't know where to turn or who to offer your assistance to. However, it doesn't have to be that hard to find opportunities to help others. Here is a list of possibilities that you can contact and see where they can use you and what types of volunteer options they have.
- United Way- Most communities (at least in America) have a United Way. This organization can get you in touch with lots of other organizations. They will have lots of volunteer options!
- Churches- Whether you belong to a local church or are just looking for a place to volunteer, many Churches have lots of options for volunteering or can get you involved in other groups or organizations.
- Food Pantries, Soup KIchens, Shelters, Nursing Homes- If you have a desire to help out at a food pantry, soup kitchen, shelter, animal shelter, or nursing home you can call these organizations directly and see how you can help.
- Web Searches- There are now a number of sites that are designed to help you hook up with volunteer options. You can do a Google search and find out more about where, when, and how you can volunteer.
Planting Trees and Plants
Many groups help the environment and help make the community prettier by planting trees, flowers, and other plants. This can be a fun and exciting way to help out the community. Whether you have a tree garden in your area or are going to help plant flowers by the roadside your family can enjoy time with others, out in nature, and making a beautiful difference (plus don't forget cleaner air).
Food Pantries, Soup Kitchens, and Shelters
If helping the environment isn't quite the experience you were looking for then maybe helping people is more up your alley. Check out your local food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters to see what sort of things you can volunteer doing. Many times these organizations are run by older people who would love the help of younger ones. Sometimes a single couple or a few people will run them week after week and could really use the help of additional volunteers. Whether you help pass out food, help cook and serve food, or help in other ways, there is always lots of jobs to do!
Often fundraising can be a great way for you to help out. There are all sorts of ways to help others while raising money for their cause. Some examples can be walks and bike rides for organizations. Causes can include a crop walk (to help feed American people), cancer walks (for research and financial help of cancer victims), and even a bike ride to help research a cure for diabetes. You can also raise funds for local groups or organizations you are part of. This can be your local schools, clubs, and churches.
For the Love of Animals
If the environment, people, or fundraising isn't up your alley then animals might be the way for you to go. You can volunteer at local shelters or a local rescue. Many of these organizations need the help of volunteers in order to keep animals healthy, happy, and well cared for. You and your family can volunteer to help walk dogs and play with animals. It is a win win situation!
Visiting the Elderly
Being a nursing home can be hard and lonely. You and your family can volunteer to visit a nursing home, meet new people, hear about the past, and even play games with the elderly. This can be a very rewarding volunteer opportunity. It isn't something you have to do often to get joy out of either. It can be a lot of fun for all involved!
Volunteering is an excellent way to give of yourself and to teach a lot to your children. This is just a starting list, you can find a lot more opportunities in your area and can choose a wide range of things to try out. You don't have to stick with one option and you can find time in your busy schedule to make a difference to others! Have fun doing it and show the world that there are people who care.