Volunteer With Your Kids
I have been volunteering since I was 12 years old, maybe even earlier. I started my volunteer services at my childhood church as a nursery aid teacher. I thought it was the most wonderful thing ever and have been volunteering ever since. Throughout high school, it was super easy for me to volunteer and I even kept a portfolio of all my volunteer work. Even to this day, my time is filled with volunteer service. Now that I am a mom, I knew I wanted my kids to get involved with volunteer service. My oldest son is now 6 years old and this year we decided we were going to volunteer at least 1 time a month. We will probably be taking a break this month & next as I am currently 36 weeks pregnant and baby is due in May. However, so far this year, we have volunteered each month. I am absolutely loving volunteering with my son. It is definitely a bonding experience and I am getting to share something I really enjoy with my son.
This week is volunteer week! This week is all about celebrating the volunteers that help nonprofits soar! Non profit organizations will be celebrating their volunteers in different ways from big corporate parties to small tokens of appreciation. If you are a volunteer, be proud and spread your volunteerism however you can.
The Corporation for National & Community Service gives us these statistics for volunteerism in the US.
- 25.3% of residents volunteer
- 62.8 million volunteers
- 32.1 volunteer hours per capita
- 7.9 billion hours of service
- $184 billion of service contributed
- 50.5% of residents donate $25 or more to charity
You can see more of a breakdown of statistics in this PDF. It is quite interesting to see just how much we as a nation are volunteering. In fact, another neat statistic is that 62.5% of us engage in “informal volunteering” (example: doing favors for a neighbor) or what I would call Random Acts of Kindness! We know how much Random Acts of Kindness has grown, so it is cool to see an actual statistic for it.
Our Volunteer Story
My son, who is 6, has started to experience volunteer service this year. When I first told him what I wanted us to do, he was not too thrilled to be honest. However, we have volunteered 3 times this year so far, and I can tell he enjoys it. We are currently volunteering for Care & Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. This organization is the largest food bank providing food to all of Southern Colorado. Care & Share provides millions of pounds of food to 31 Southern Colorado counties. Care & Share have more than 7,000 volunteers annually!
I did lots of research on different places to volunteer with my son. Since he is so young, I was nervous that there wouldn’t be many options for volunteering. However, thankfully, there are more places than I had assumed. However, we started with Care & Share because there are so many ways to volunteer, I knew we could find a project and also a time to do it since he is in school and weekends are pretty busy for us. So we have volunteered on a day that there is no school. We are looking into a couple other places to volunteer this year, however, we will need to fill out paper work and do orientations before we can start. He really wanted to volunteer with animals, but most all of those programs require you to be at least 12 years old OR you can foster animals, which we just can’t commit to.
I decided it would be cute to get an idea about where my son’s head is about volunteering so far. So I asked him a couple questions regarding our volunteer work so far. It was quite the cute conversation we had. I was also happy to see that he is understanding the concept and why I think it is important for us to volunteer. Even at such a young age, he is grasping the importance of volunteering and I couldn’t be happier about that.
Interview with Kayden
Mommy: “Do you like to volunteer? Why?”
Super K:“Yes! (with a big smile on his face) Because I get to help other people…like homeless people.”
Mommy: “Does volunteering make you feel good?”
Super K: “Yes, because it’s helping others, it’s helping other people be happy.”
Mommy: “What is your favorite thing about volunteering at Care & Share?”
Super K: “I like helping people to grab things they need!” “Oh, and of course Godzilla!”
**So just a note here. At Care & Share, we have volunteered by sorting cans into boxes and by creating assembly lines to create bags of food for kids to take home on the weekends. So each time he was handing people cans they needed or bags needed for packing the food. So he is definitely enjoying the process and how we are volunteering at Care & Share. Also, Godzilla is this very tall forklift that they use in the warehouse…all the kids love Godzilla. Haha!
Mommy: “Why is it good to help people?”
Super K: “Because they [homeless people] wouldn’t have anything if people didn’t help.”
Mommy: “Where or how else would you like to volunteer?”
Super K: “I don’t know. Maybe someone’s work. Like a doctor. I want to help anyone we can! It would be cool to help doctors so I can help people.”
Mommy: “Do you think all kids should volunteer?”
Super K: “Maybe, if they want to. Because then they will be helping others, which is good. And they will learn to help others.”
I loved our little talk. Of course, there was tons of other side conversation, but those were the main answers to my questions. As you can see, he is really grasping this idea of helping people. I love that he doesn’t think all kids should volunteer. When we first talked about volunteering, I told him I wanted him to do it because he liked it, not because I was making him. He knows that if he doesn’t like it, he needs to tell me. As much as I want my kids to love volunteer work, I don’t want to force it upon them.
How to Get Started Volunteering With Your Kids
- Talk with your child(ren). Before you even start, discuss volunteering with your kids. Find out what they know about it, tell them how you volunteer (if you do), and talk about how and why you would like them to volunteer. Decide if everyone will try it at least once and decide from there or if it is completely optional when they are ready or whatever you might decide. Whatever it may be, make sure everyone is on board. You do not want to cause a child to dislike volunteering. Volunteering is NOT work! 🙂
- Research your nonprofits in town. Again, something you should do with your kids. Or at least find out what they would be interested in doing. Do they want to work with kids? With animals? With elderly? Or maybe out in nature?! You will also need to research the ages that are allowed to volunteer, how to get started as a volunteer and all the ways you can help. Narrow down your choices to 3-4 nonprofits and decide if you will do one time volunteer projects or continuous projects.
- Get started with at least one nonprofit. Whatever the process is to get started, GET STARTED! Fill out forms and attend orientation meetings if that is what it takes. Decide on your visit day and time and get it on the calendar.
- Discussion before first volunteer service. Be sure to have a conversation again. This time, regarding the organization, who they are & what they do. Discuss how you will be helping specifically and what is expected of them. Talk about rules that need to be followed. And if you know, talk about the process of how you will be helping for the day.
- Reward & discuss. That is right. Reward yourself. We also consider this more bonding time for me and my son. After we volunteer we head to lunch or grab a snack depending the time of day. This allows us time to further connect and talk about our day volunteering. Ask questions and let your child ask questions as well. Find out what they thought and how they feel.
- Repeat. That’s right! Do it again. Either volunteer at the same location or choose a new volunteer location. Decide how often you will volunteer and the best times to volunteer. If you can plan ahead a few months or even through the whole year, it will help you to stay committed. That way your dates and times are already written down and you can be ready for the next volunteer time!
I hope this has motivated you to start volunteering with your kids. Or if you are already volunteering, hopefully it will encourage you to continue it. I am super excited to see where our volunteering takes us and I can’t wait for my other son to join us! I would like to suggest, if you start volunteering with your kid(s), be sure to record your hours. These hours will be helpful to your kid as they get older. Like I said previously, I actually started a portfolio. If you want to start a portfolio just use a notebook or keep it all digitally on your computer. Include copies of your application, nonprofit contact and information, pictures that you take, hours that you volunteer, how you volunteered & the skills that came from it, and best yet, after being with the nonprofit for a while, ask for references. These will definitely come in handy down the road! But in the end, remember to have fun & enjoy each moment!
Be sure to share how you volunteer! I would love to hear in the comments below where and how you show your volunteer service!