Volunteering is all about giving back in whatever way you choose, as an individual or as a family. Sure, giving back to your community with your kids alongside you might seem potentially overwhelming at first. However, it is a great way to simultaneously volunteer and provide a number of positive opportunities for your kids to learn and grow.
Making room in your family’s schedule to volunteer together can bring nothing but good things to the table—for both your family and community.
Why volunteer with kids?
When it comes to volunteering, the benefits of giving back to the community are easy to see. Volunteering will give your kids the chance to learn empathy, have a meaningful impact in the lives of others and teach them the value of giving back to those around them.
Kids of all ages benefit from volunteering. Recent research published in May 2023 through JAMA Network has found that children ages 6 to 17 who volunteer tend to be associated with better overall health and wellness. No matter the age of your kids, there’s something they can gain from volunteering!
8 volunteer opportunities for you and your kids
Taking the time to volunteer with your kids throughout the year can give your family valuable time together. It can also help them grow into empathetic, thoughtful individuals. Here are eight volunteer opportunities that are perfectly kid-friendly.
1. Organize a food drive for a local food bank
Giving back to the community is a huge part of volunteering. And one way to give back is by organizing a food drive for a local food bank. A food drive can be as simple as asking your neighbors to donate any type of shelf-stable food that won’t spoil and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Your kids can even create flyers to post around the neighborhood.
Need to find a food bank near you to donate to? Feeding America, a nationwide network of local meal programs and food banks, offers a local food bank locator.
2. Contribute to a Little Free Library near you
Little Free Libraries can be found all over the world. They are typically small, wooden boxes that house books, and they are part of a “take a book, share a book” free book exchange! You and your kids can contribute to local Little Free Libraries close to you by going through your family’s books to see if there are any you’re no longer interested in keeping. Anyone is free to donate books to any of the book-sharing boxes!
You can find one near you with the Little Free Library world map.
3. See if the local animal shelter has volunteer opportunities for kids
Check to see if your local animal shelter or humane society is in need of volunteers. Each shelter may have a variety of volunteer requirements and needs, such as an age limit for on-site volunteers or the activities with which they need help. On-site volunteer work such as walking dogs, admin work and cleaning up after animals may be a good fit for you and your older kids!
Even if the animal shelter doesn’t have volunteer opportunities for younger kids, they can still get involved! Help them collect items to donate to the shelter like animal food, treats, toys, leashes and cleaning supplies.
4. Participate in a local cleanup day
When it comes to instilling gratitude in your kids through community service, participation in a cleanup day is a great option. A cleanup day is all about bringing volunteers together in an effort to clean and spruce up all kinds of places, from neighborhood streets and empty lots to public areas like beaches and parks. A local cleanup can be anything from picking up trash to planting trees and plants. Keep America Beautiful is a great resource to find an established cleanup day near you, or consider organizing one with your kids.
5. Collect books and toys for your local children’s hospital
Volunteer opportunities for kids can involve all kinds of activities, including organizing a book or toy drive for a children’s hospital near you. Plus, it’s pretty straight-forward: Help your kids collect new or gently used children’s books and toys and donate them. You can ask friends and family to donate and even consider reaching out to your neighbors and local organizations that may be able to help!
6. Become a Citizen Archivist with the National Archives
Perfect for parents and older kids who have an interest in history, consider volunteering your time to the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Citizen Archivist program. NARA is the nation’s record keeper. It is responsible for preserving records from the U.S. federal government that are deemed important for legal or historical purposes.
NARA volunteers will help tag records with keywords to make the archive more searchable or by transcribing documents. This volunteer opportunity can be done virtually and helps to preserve unique history!
7. Find out if there are volunteer opportunities for kids at the local zoo
To find volunteer work that’s more on the wild side, check to see if your local zoo or animal sanctuary needs volunteers of all ages. Some zoos have specific volunteer programs for teens, kids and even groups, including families! Zoo volunteer opportunities may include preparing food for animals, giving guided tours, interacting with zoo visitors or working alongside zookeepers.
8. Spend time with the elderly at local nursing homes
Nursing homes often have volunteer opportunities for all ages, even kids. While nursing homes do have staff on hand, they often don’t have as much time to socialize with residents as they would like. That’s where volunteers come in!
You and your kids can volunteer at local nursing homes to interact and socialize with residents. Depending on the nursing home, you may get to visit one-on-one with residents or even participate in specific program opportunities for kids and assist at activities hosted by the facility, like bingo and social events.
Photo by Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock.com