6 Ways to Volunteer With the Kids

Jeanne Sager
Big Kid

Photo from Hands On Network
America couldn't survive without parents -- studies show we're are more likely to volunteer than people without kids.

But you could do a little more Mom and Dad -- like ensuring the next generation of volunteers is ready for the job.

Considering April is National Volunteer Month, how about starting now?

It will make a difference to do it side by side, so try one of these options for volunteering together:

1. Take them along on your regular civic activities -- Lisa Chesney, a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator in upstate New York, has her sons help out with the animals, then sends them to lend a hand at the firehouse where her husband is the chief.

"Whenever Steve and I participate in anything 'volunteer,' we have the boys help us," says Chesney. "Now that they are older, they understand that 'volunteering' is the right thing to do."

2. Find a civic group with a junior program so you can sign up for one, they can join the other -- "Programs like Boys and Girls Club of America's Torch and Keystone Clubs are great because they teach the importance of local service to the club members," says Alexis Eggleton, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Town of Wallkill, Pine Bush & Sullivan County.

"When parents participate in service activities and include their children, the parents have set the example that service is a priority for the family, and we hope that enough examples will allow that priority to carry over into the child's adult life," Eggleton notes. 

3. Check the Disney World Day of Service Listings -- A day of service at a participating organization will earn your child a free day at the park, connecting the concept of volunteerism with a big reward.

4. Do it at home -- Root through their toy boxes together for toys for the local children's hospital, bake cupcakes for the families at the domestic violence shelter or collect old clothes for the Red Cross emergency fire resources. Talk with your kids about why you're doing it and the people they'll help.

5. Pick a project of the day from DoSomething.org or visit VolunteerMatch.org to be matched to a program -- And DO it. Just do it together.

6. Hit the animal shelters -- Dogs at the shelter could always use some exercise, and some human contact. It helps make them more adoptable, and could prepare your kids for one day having a pet . . . or show them just how much work an animal requires. While you'd be the one called on for the heavy duty work (cleaning, cleaning, cleaning!), playing with cats and dogs let's them see volunteering can be a lot of fun.

How do you instill community spirit in your kids?

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