Teaching our kids to want to help others isn’t always the most difficult part of fostering a lifelong commitment to community service. As we learned from one of our Babble blogger’s firsthand experiences, kids are ready and willing to offer help once they realize there are people out there in need.
What’s slightly more difficult is the ongoing quest to find the right project for your child to be involved with. There are so many causes out there to choose from, narrowing down your search and identifying one to make a commitment to can be a discouraging barrier to entry for even the most eager of kids who want to give back to their community.
The goal is to encourage kids to follow a path of ongoing service that creates lasting change, rather than volunteering to meet a quota or doing it out of a sense of obligation. That’s why it’s so crucial to pick a project that inspires passion. That’s the rationale behind ABC’s Summer of Service, which is awarding $1000 grants in partnership with Disney Friends For Change to kids who are making a difference by helping others. The goal is to inspire kids to lead meaningful, ongoing projects when they give back to the community – and that all starts with finding the right place to start.
To help get your kids inspired, we’ve taken some of the guesswork and hunting out of the search for the perfect cause.
To start, check out Youth Service America the organization partnering with ABC on the Summer of Service Awards. Their site is filled with inspirational volunteer stories and allows you to discover service projects filtered by subject matter and age. Be sure to nominate a young change-maker in your community for a Summer of Service award by July 31!
And here’s a handy list of other causes and organizations for your kids to explore:
Perfect for kids who enjoy hands-on or being outdoors. Although kids under age 16 aren’t allowed on an actual build site, there are several activities on the website for kids to learn about volunteering, including card creation kits, downloadable model homes, and an interactive house that teaches kids about sustainability.
This organization encourages young people to take action to create change and make their mark on the world. Each month, Generation On helps kids get involved with a different “project of the month.” This month’s project: visit your local nursing home. The site is packed with inspirational ideas that can help kids get started, starting with little gestures like smiling more, all the way to starting a neighborhood fitness group or donating old stuffed toys.
The Humane Society has an amazing website that breaks down every volunteer opportunity available for kids, organized by location and interest. They even have a page specifically for kids with programs such as A Cause for Paws, Combat Cruelty, Friends for Hens, Shoot to Save Wildlife, and Save Our Seals. The minimum age to volunteer varies by location, so be sure to ask the facility before showing up with your child.
If your kids have grown tired or just outgrown some of their old toys or clothes, one of the easiest ways to teach them empathy and giving is to help them donate to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Teaching this practice early can help make it a regular habit for them later in life. Added bonus: less clutter in their rooms and closets.
This new trend in family trips combines vacationing and service. These trips are not only fun and allow time for your family to bond, but your kids will be exposed to helping others in need in another part of the world. We recommend Global Volunteers and Global Citizens Network as great starting points.
With 35 local offices across the country, this organization understands that everyone has the ability to give in their community. They have several programs specifically for kids, including the Action Team: A National Youth Volunteer Program.
VolunteerMatch.org is a hub of service opportunities, organized by interest and location. Your search can be refined to only include opportunities that would be suitable for kids, teens, or groups.