Children are adorable at all ages. Everything is new and exciting and they become sponges to new information and happenings. My favorite age though, and this varies in each child, is the age when they get a sense of community. They start wanting to do great things for other people and their honest and sincere compassion is running rampant. When your child starts to exhibit signs of wanting to help, caring about the well-being of others, and a genuine sense of concern for those around him or her, that’s when you embrace the opportunity to introduce and involve them in community service. Not only are you teaching them how to care for other people, but you’re instilling values that will last a lifetime. Volunteerism is a fantastic way to get your children involved and show them that there is a bigger purpose.
Some of the other benefits for children are:
- A sense of responsibility. By volunteering, kids and teens learn what it means to make and keep a commitment. They learn how to be on time for a job, do their best, and be proud of the results. But they also learn that, ultimately, we’re all responsible for the well-being of our communities.
- That one person can make a difference. A wonderful, empowering message for kids is that they’re important enough to have an impact on someone or something else.
- The benefit of sacrifice. By giving up a toy to a less fortunate child, a child learns that sometimes it’s good to sacrifice. Cutting back on recreation time to help clean up a beach tells kids that there are important things besides ourselves and our immediate needs.
- Tolerance. Working in community service can bring kids and teens in touch with people of different backgrounds, abilities, ethnicities, ages, and education and income levels. They’ll learn that even the most diverse individuals can be united by common values.
- Job skills. Community service can help young people decide on their future careers. Are they interested in the medical field? Hospitals and clinics often have teenage volunteer programs. Do they love politics? Kids can work on the real campaigns of local political candidates. Learning to work as a team member, taking on leadership roles, setting project goals — these are all skills that can be gained by volunteering and will serve kids well in any future career.
- How to fill idle time wisely. If kids aren’t involved in traditional after-school activities, community service can be a wonderful alternative.
Community Service Ideas for Children
- Pick up garbage at the park, playground, or beach. You don’t even have to be part of a big effort to do this. Get your family together, find some garbage bags, and head out.
- Become involved in repair and renovation efforts for low-income residents. Younger kids might not be able to do the big jobs, but helping out by fetching a paintbrush or holding the nails involves them just the same.
- Work at a community food bank or soup kitchen as a family.
- Find an organization that serves the elderly. Take food to people who are homebound and visit with them. Your kids can brighten a lonely senior’s day instantly.
- Offer your family’s help at the local animal shelter.
- Donate gifts to the poor.
- Plant seeds. Sell the flowers or plants and donate the proceeds to a local organization in need.
- Put on a play at your school, a fair or festival about local environmental or human needs issues.
- Collect items for a time capsule.
- Make treats for a local senior home.
- Improve the school grounds.
- Develop and maintain a recycling program at school.
- Collect food, warm clothing, toys, or personal care items for the needy. Deliver to shelters. Remember shelters are in need of supplies all year long!
- Hold a Teddy Bear and Friends (Stuffed Animals) Drive.
- Donate the collected animals to a Homeless Shelter for new arrivals. Also…check with your local police station or fire station. Many are happy to take Teddy and Friends; a teddy bear can be a comfort to children in times of distress.
- Collect unused make-up, perfume and other cosmetics for a center for abused women.
- Make centerpieces, holiday cards, birthday cards, and notes for assisted living facilities, children hospital wards, or Meals on Wheels.
- Donate old eye glasses to an organization or place that recycles them for the needy.
- Collect old stuffed animals and dolls, clean them up, repair and then donate them.
- Collect old clothes and donate them for a dress-up area at a daycare or family shelter.
- Make a holiday basket for someone in need or crisis.
- Write letters to service men/women.
- Put together a care-package for service men/women.
- Form a litter patrol on school or park ground.
- In December contact a tree farm or nursery about donating a Christmas tree to a needy family, shelter or nursing home.
The possibilities are endless. The result is incredibly rewarding. If children learn how to give back while they are young, they will turn into productive, self-aware, responsible adults. Embrace, love and feed their compassion.
Thoughts, comments, questions? Email me! Jennkaysen@gmail.com
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Do you know of a Community Superhero?
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