Volunteering offers numerous benefits to those involved, but can also be a life-changing experience when it becomes a permanent part of your children’s lives. Mighty Mommy has 5 fun ways to incorporate community service into your family’s lifestyle.
Tip #3: Ideas to Get Started
Here are a few ideas to get you started looking for that perfect volunteering opportunity. Remember that you don’t have to volunteer at a major facility or organization. There are hundreds of smaller, more focused volunteer opportunities available no matter where you live.
Community Volunteering – Check out your local museums and libraries for child volunteer programs. You can also search for local food pantries to help stock, prepare, and/or serve the food to the needy. Or, you could seek out local retirement facilities where your child could visit the elderly and help out around the facility. (My kids visit a local nursing home once a week and they love it!) Older people have time on their hands to listen to younger people, while we parents don’t always have that kind of extra time.
Volunteering to Help Animals – Does your child love animals? If so, there are many opportunities out there. Give a call to your local Humane Society. They are usually excited to bring in volunteers who can help with the animals or simply provide some temporary companionship. You may also think about calling your local Wildlife Foundation for information on their volunteer programs.
Sponsor Someone Special – There are programs available to let you sponsor a family, a soldier, or another child who is in need of help in some way. This will not take a lot of time, but can bring so much joy and happiness to the lives of everyone involved. Our school has a pen pal program for students to write to soldiers overseas. My brother serves in the U.S. Army overseas, and he often tells me about how much happiness those letters bring to him and his troops.
Join Child Volunteer Organizations – Organizations such as 4-H, The Boy Scouts of America, and Kiwanis Key Club always encourage their members to volunteer in the community. Many of them will also help foster beneficial, ethical values that can remain with your child for life. For parents who do not have the time available to help their kids to the fullest, these organizations are a blessing.
Check out www.idealist.orgfor specific opportunities for teenagers in your area.
Tip #4: Voluntourism
The concept of voluntourism has gotten a lot of traction lately. This idea may seem really out of the box for some, but it has certainly caught on. Basically, the definition of voluntourism is that instead of going the traditional vacation route wherein you and the family enjoy some fun in the sun at some fabulous destination, you spend your vacation time helping others.
Last year, good family friends of ours decided to spend their vacation overseas helping some very deprived villages in Africa. Granted, this is expensive and must be the right fit for a family, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity to expose your children to the bigger world. Elevate Destinations is a unique organization that offers families the opportunity to not only experience new places, but to work together in the service of others. This family travel adventure combines exciting activities, from horseback riding to safaris to jungle hikes, with the opportunity to connect with and give back to the very communities visited. Each private journey is expertly designed with children in mind and is fully customizable to meet all of your family’s travel needs and preferences.