It’s not uncommon for the holiday season to inspire a sense of giving. Many people resolve to serve a needy cause, and in so doing, volunteering becomes a regular part of their routine. Some might even get their whole family involved.
Volunteering as a family might immediately present some obstacles, but rest assured, we’re here to help. Read on to learn about some family-friendly opportunities, how to keep volunteering, and how your family will benefit from the experience.
Volunteering Opportunities Suitable for the Whole Family
- Donate clothes and toys: Have each family member – including parents! – fill a box with clothes that are outgrown or unused. Add in any other useable toys or household items. When you’re through, drive to a local Goodwill or shelter, and have all family members carry in their own box. Doing this semiannually or even quarterly could be a great way to give to the needy and reduce clutter.
- Lend a hand to a needy neighbor: Shovel snow, rake leaves, or mow the lawn for an elderly neighbor or another friend who is sick or disabled. Let them know that your whole family will come at a regular time to take care of this task. Offering this help would be a terrific example for the whole neighborhood.
- Volunteer as friends of animals: Many animal shelters need volunteers to walk and play with the animals, and they also need help with the big job of keeping the shelter clean. A family of animal-lovers might enjoy this opportunity to have fun while serving a cause close to their hearts.
- Organize a regular play date at a nursing home: Arrange a regular time that you and your friends can take your kids to play at a local nursing home. Bring toys or music, and engage your kids with the residents. This is a great way to encourage intergenerational relations and bring some youthful energy to the elderly.
- Volunteer at a Ronald McDonald House: Contact a nearby RMH to find out how your family can help families with children undergoing treatment for serious illnesses. Volunteers at RMH cook, clean, and spread good cheer to families staying at RMH.
- Adopt a family through The Box Project: Sign up to adopt a family living in rural poverty. Adopting families send letters as well as a monthly box of supplies to their matching family. This project could encourage family discussions of empathy, giving, and assisting people in need.
How to Make it Stick
Like most families, yours is probably busy, and committing to volunteering might seem complicated. However, if you follow these tips, you’ll have a better chance at making volunteering not just a one-time activity, but a way of life.
- Be realistic when committing your time: Think carefully about your family’s schedule, and avoid overextending yourself. If a particular day is always free, commit some of your time then. And remember, those who volunteer regularly feel like they actually have more time to give.
- Include everyone from start to finish: If you’re donating something, always bring your kids to the donation site so that they can benefit from the whole experience.
- Have your kids choose a project: Let your kids think about a need that they feel inspired to serve. Encouraging them to choose will give them a sense of responsibility, and it will motivate them to get started.
- Reward yourselves: You’re doing a great thing! Give yourselves a pat on the back with a regular trip to the ice cream store following volunteering. This could be a perfect opportunity to talk about your experience.
Benefits of Volunteering as a Whole Family
Your interest in volunteering comes from a desire to help others, but did you know that you and your family will benefit, too? In addition to the many health benefits that volunteering has to offer, the following describes the benefits unique to volunteering families.
- Volunteering inspires compassion: When you engage your kids in volunteering, they develop sense of empathy and an awareness that they can make a difference. Plus, they come to a deeper appreciation of their own blessings and they will be more likely to volunteer later in life.
- Families experience stronger bonds: With parents and children volunteering side-by-side, service becomes a thread that ties them together. Parents have the opportunity to act as role models, instilling positive values in their children.
- Serving leads to better communication: Volunteering prompts children to ask questions, which is the perfect opportunity for parents to take advantage of teachable moments and develop trust between their children and themselves. The act of serving together is quality time spent, and it motivates parents and children to talk honestly about what is important in life.