Inside: Spread kindness with these family-friendly volunteer ideas for kids each month through this Family Volunteer Challenge to help make volunteering a habit for kids.
About a decade ago, there was a huge campaign in Los Angeles to get more people volunteering. Disney teamed up with dozens of local organizations, and if an adult volunteered for a certain number of hours at a specific organization like a food bank, each adult would get one free ticket to Disneyland.
It was the carrot that many adults needed to get volunteering. Me included.
For me, it wasn’t the Disneyland ticket that got me up and volunteering.
It was how easy they made it to volunteer. I knew where to go, when to go, and how to donate my time so it would be the most beneficial to my community.
My husband and I spent hours sorting good produce from rotten produce for a food bank I didn’t even know existed in my neighborhood. And we walked away exhausted and proud.
We have to make volunteering easy. We have to make volunteering a habit. We have to make it so that volunteering is a no-brainer to give your time, or money to others in need.
Now that we have kids, it’s hard to continue to volunteer since we’re obviously much shorter on time.
But the hardest part when it comes to volunteering with kids is finding kid-friendly volunteer opportunities. So many organizations have age-requirements so families with young children are limited in where they can donate their time.
So each month, I’ve come up with different kid-friendly, easy volunteering activities families can do together to give back to their community.
Join us and make this year a year when your family focuses on volunteering and community service.
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.
And volunteering is one of the easiest ways to help kids practice being compassionate. Compassion is feeling others’ pain or hardship or suffering and then being prompted to take action to relieve that suffering.
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 for December.
How the Family Volunteer Challenge Works:
Every month, we have 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 into a learned habit.
Okay, now that we’re guilt-free, let’s start spreading some kindness.
12 Months of Volunteering and Giving Back as a Family:
January’s Volunteer activity and this year’s Bonus Activity: Focusing on women and children
Get February’s Volunteer Challenge here: Focusing on sick kids
Get March’s Volunteer Challenge here: Focusing on the elderly
Get April’s Volunteer Challenge here: Focusing on animal shelters
Get June’s Volunteer Challenge here: Focusing on our neighborhoods
July’s Volunteer Activity: Focusing on veterans and active military
August’s Volunteer Activity: Focusing on kids in need
September’s Volunteer Activity: Focusing on our firefighters
October’s Volunteer Activity: Focusing on families who need help
November’s Volunteer Activity: Focusing on homeless
December’s Volunteer Activity: Focusing on kids in need
Each month of these Volunteer Ideas for Kids we will give you:
- ideas on how to do the family-friendly volunteer ideas for kids,
- ways to talk to your kids about it in age-appropriate ways,
- books to read to connect to the service activity, and
- encouragement to get other families to join you
Because kindness is contagious.
We can teach our kids how to give to others.
We can make volunteering a habit.
We can make giving to others feel normal.
And it starts by doing these simple family-friendly volunteer activities each month and talking to our kids about it.