Inside: This year to spread more kindness, more giving and more generosity, join us in our family volunteer challenge. You can start any month!
My family and I spent a Saturday morning standing in front of a grocery store together. We weren’t selling anything. But were asking for something:
As people headed into the grocery store, we gave them a wish list from our local food bank, asking them to shop for the food bank as they shopped for themselves.
Then when they came out of the store, we collected the food and took it to the food bank for them.
Our goal was to make it as easy for them to donate as possible.
Because when volunteering is easy, more people do it.
And it was so uplifting to me. I try to volunteer often. But on that Saturday, my efforts were exponential.
Instead of donating one hour of our time, we got other people involved and showed them how easy it was to give…so hundreds of people donated.
Which was further inspired me and made us all feel so much more awesome that day.
Doing God’s work.
It doesn’t matter what you call it.
But since we’re a busy family, we often run out of time or forget or push it off until next month to focus on giving back.
So instead, this year, we’re doing the Family Volunteer Challenge.
And we’d love for you to join us.
My goal is to make it as easy as possible for you and your family to give back to your community. One month at a time.
Why it’s Important to Volunteer with our Kids:
We are raising kind kids. We expect it, we praise it and we model it.
Related: How to Raise Kinder Kids
And we tend to focus on the quiet, normal, everyday moments of kindness.
Holding the door for the person behind you.
Picking up something someone dropped.
Offering your seat to someone who needs it.
But there’s also bigger, grander, more time-consuming acts of kindness that falls more into the volunteering category of kindness:
Times when we donate to our local food bank.
Or collect all our old jackets and take them to a shelter that needs them.
Or when we take a taco to someone who’s really hungry.
Our kindness may not change the world. But it can change the world for the people we help.
And it instills in my children the fact that volunteering and acts of service are a normal part of lives.
Helping others doesn’t need to be a once a year activity during December when we donate a toy or two.
People are hungry year round.
Animal shelters are full year round.
Kids are sick year round.
And we can help. Because we are helpers. We are raising our kids to be helpers.
As an added bonus (as if we needed one more reason) volunteering as a family is an incredible way to connect as a family and build a strong family identity.
So teaching our kids to give to others who are less fortunate than ourselves is a true gift.
Many families want to donate and volunteer but it feels too hard.
And they don’t know where to volunteer or how easy it really is to make a significant difference.
So we’re here to make it easier for you with the Family Volunteer Challenge.
How the Family Volunteer Challenge Works:
Every month, we’ll post a family-friendly service activity you and your kids can do together.
It’s 12 months, 1 activity each month, 10-30 minutes each month.
And it’ll be super easy.
We’ll give you a suggestion.
You can run with it, tweak it, make it your own, or scrap it and do something totally different.
Your only tasks are to commit to doing this as a family, talk about what you’re doing and why with your kids so it has a lasting impact, and then protect the time on your calendar so it doesn’t get pushed back.
And it also has to come with this crucial caveat…you can only do this Family Volunteer Challenge if you do it with no guilt.
- No guilt that you didn’t start it sooner. You’re starting now and that’s incredible.
- No guilt if one month, life got in the way and you skipped it. You can do it next month, no worries.
- No guilt if you think your kids are selfish and self-centered and are ungrateful. They probably are but that’s not their fault or yours. It’s how their brain is wired and we can turn giving to others and being generous a learned habit.
Okay, now that we’re guilt-free, let’s start spreading some kindness as a community.
12 Months of Volunteering as a Family:
Before we jump in, there’s a Bonus Activity that’s perfect for the whole year:
Start collecting coins whenever you have them or find them and put them in a special jar.
Remind your kids they could get a gumball from the machine or play a game at the pizza joint or make a wish in the fountain with these coins. OR, they could put it in the jar for a cause that’s way more important than gum and arcade games.
As your jar fills up at the end of the year, decide as a family who to donate the jar of coins to.
- Maybe you know of a family in need.
- Maybe there was a charity or organization we helped over the 12 months that really spoke to your family.
- Maybe there’s something near and dear to your heart we didn’t cover.
Work together as a family and talk about why you’re collecting the coins and what an impact that will make for someone else with very little impact on yourselves.
You can even guess how much you’ll collect by the end of the year. Ten bucks says you far surpass your estimates.
Okay, now for the Monthly Volunteering Challenges:
For January, we’re helping local women and children’s shelters.
Go to Google and search: “women’s shelter near me” or “women and children’s shelter near me.”
Click on one that is close in proximity to your home.
Then look through their website for a “Donate” button or a “Wish List” button or a “How you Can Help” button.
Do it now:
Print off their wish list if they have one. It might be hiding under “Other Ways You Can Give” (You may need to go to more than one shelter site to find a wish list.)
Take it shopping with you and have your kids who are old enough read the list. Have them pick an item out or a gift card to purchase for the shelter.
On a tight budget? Stick to the dollar stores! There’s plenty on their wish list that can be purchased there!
Then have your kids go with you to the shelter so they can help deliver the donation.
And remember: No guilt about how “little” your donation is. Every item counts and is appreciated.
Talk about it:
If you have older kids, explain what a shelter is and what it is for.
If you need help explaining it, here’s how we do it: A shelter is a place for kids to live when they can’t live with their moms or dads right now because it isn’t safe.” Or “This is a place where mamas and their kids live while they’re trying to find a new safe home for themselves. Sometimes they have to leave their house without all of things they need like their toothbrush or extra socks or a book to read. And we can help them get the things they need to feel more comfortable in the shelter.”
Have a conversation with your kiddos after you drop off the donation and ask them how it felt to give and how easy it was to give.
Remind them of how simple it was to shop for your donation and how simple it was to drop off your donation. Talk about how it makes our hearts feel full when we can give to others who have less than us.
What would it be like if we didn’t have simple things like a toothbrush or a hairbrush or clean underwear and socks?
How would you feel if you needed something you didn’t have but someone gave it to you?
How do you feel knowing our family’s act of kindness made someone else a little happier or a little more comfortable?
We can and should teach our kids empathy. And it starts with conversations like these.
Celebrate and Spread the Word:
Be proud of your volunteering and let your kids know you’re proud of them. Celebrate the time your family spent together to make other people’s lives easier.
And share what you did with other families. Kindness is contagious. Challenge them to join you by handing them the wishlist from the shelter (and a link to this challenge.)