Join National Family Volunteer Day: Seasons of Service
What better way to join the MomItForward Season of Service Challenge than making a difference together, as a family! This Saturday is National Family Volunteer Day and it’s the perfect opportunity to carve out dedicated family time for ‘giving back’ before the chaos of the ‘getting’ season sets in!
Why hop on the giving back sleigh-wagon as a family? Volunteering together cultivates positive communication and strengthens family bonds in ways no other activity can. Children learn to recognize their good fortune and blessings while discovering that even kids can make a positive difference in the lives of others – and that feels powerfully good. As an added holiday bonus, family memories made volunteering together will last long after their shiny new gadgets and gizmos have passed into recycle bins.
Ready to get started? Check in with your local HandsOnNetwork Volunteer Center to see volunteering activities planned for Saturday, November 20th. Or start your own family service project to celebrate National Family Volunteer Day in a way that’s most meaningful to you.
10 Simple service activities for kids of all ages:
Younger Kids can...
- decorate reusable grocery bags and fill them with their favorite non-perishable food items. Feeding America offers a Food Bank locator, searchable by zip code.
- stuff new, warm socks with water bottles and granola bars to give to homeless men and women you pass on street corners.
- decorate holiday cards for soldiers overseas. Red Cross-sponsored Holiday Mail for Heroes will deliver letters postmarked before Dec. 10, 2010.
- box up their gently used clothing and donate it to your local family shelter, refugee center or charity thrift store.
Older Kids can...
- donate their gently used books and DVDs to a local children’s hospital.
- make holiday decorations and cards and then sing carols for nursing home residents. Call ahead to schedule a visit.
- engage a team of secret friends to clandestinely rake leaves or shovel snow for an elderly neighbor for a whole month.
- collect used towels and pet toys for the local animal shelter.
- host a hot chocolate or cider stand and donate the proceeds to a charity of their choosing.
- adopt a family for the Holidays through a local business or faith group, and have your kids help shop for that family. (Hint: VolunteerSpot's free online sign up sheets make it easy to invite friends, colleagues and class parents to contribute to a Giving Tree/ Adopted family.)
Making it a Habit
Volunteering as a family while kids are young develops a positive service habit that sticks long into adulthood. Use the following four tips to help ensure your kids understand the impact of their good deeds.
- Celebrate your service!
- If donating goods or money to a local charity, deliver the items with your kids in person so they can better internalize how they helped make a difference.
- Be sure to talk about your family’s service experience. Discuss what you did, why you did it, how it felt, and what you learned.
- Build on your kids’ enthusiasm and right then choose your next service project together.
More Ways to Give Back
Family Friendly Volunteering: Ideas from A-Z — a free eBook by VolunteerSpotAbout the author:
Karen Bantuveris is the founder & CEO of VolunteerSpot (http://www.VolunteerSpot.com ), a time and sanity-saving online coordination tool that empowers busy parents, teachers and grassroots community leaders by making it easier get involved. VolunteerSpot’s free sign up sheets can be used for organizing anything – classroom volunteers, snack schedules, charity fun-runs, tournaments, community potlucks, holiday parties, Giving Trees and more. Karen is passionate about increasing parent participation in schools, engaging parents to fund education technology, and using new media tools to inspire social action in the ‘real’ world. Karen lives in Austin, TX with her husband and daughter.