Teaching your children to give back and care for others is such an important lesson to help them be responsible, contributing members of society. Finding ways to make volunteer work a family affair is the perfect way to spend quality time together, with a real purpose. However, it can be challenging to find volunteer opportunities that will accept people of all ages. Certain organizations set a minimum age, which can sometimes be sixteen, eighteen, or even older. Even if you have younger children, there are some wonderful, helpful ways to volunteer as a family that will make a real difference.
Clean up public spaces
Periodically, especially in the spring and fall, community organizations will hold cleanup events at parks, beaches, and other attractions. Get the family together and pitch in to help beautify your community. If you can’t find an organized event, take a look at your favorite local park or outdoor facility and see if it can use some cleaning up. Grab some gloves and trash bags and get to work!
Volunteer at a soup kitchen
Though sometimes there are age limits as to who can volunteer in soup kitchens, many will allow families to help out, only limiting the specific tasks younger children can do. Check with your local soup kitchen and find out when you and your family can serve a hot meal to someone in need. You’ll be doing a wonderful service for others, plus you may get to know some amazing people along the way.
Visit with nursing home residents
Many times, the elderly in nursing facilities don’t have a lot of visits from friends and family. Spend an afternoon with the family visiting with some of these wonderful folks, talking with them, learning from them, and giving them the joy of companionship. For many, spending time with little ones is a rare treat which can make their day. Bring a few games or a karaoke machine. If you can't go, make cards and treats at home to drop off. There is a retirement facility in our small town. One weekend my family went and bought a potted plant for each porch. The residents loved the fresh flowers so much. It was such a blessing to our family to love on them for that moment.
Organize a fundraiser
If there is a specific cause that is near and dear to your family that won’t allow you to directly volunteer, you can do your part by organizing a fundraiser. Hold a yard sale and donate the proceeds. Set up a drive and invite the community to donate needed supplies. Non-profit organizations and charities are always in need of donations of both money and supplies, so your hard work will be greatly appreciated.
Find opportunities to help in your own neighborhood
Even if you can’t find the right volunteer project for your family to do together, there are still creative ways to give back, right within your own neighborhood. Helping out a family as they move into their new home, taking care of a neighbor who has recently returned from the hospital, or even babysitting for a harried single mom who needs some time to herself are all wonderful ways to show kindness to others. Simply open your eyes and look for those in need around you.
Finding ways to volunteer as a family might be a little challenging and take some creativity, but the end result is well worth the efforts. Change things up for your next family day and make it about giving back. You’ll be so very glad that you did.