My 7-year-old son Jack has tons of fun helping others, sharing his toys, and bettering our community. Even our sweet puppy Lucy is a volunteer! I’ve rounded up awesome ways your kids can step out into the community and make a big difference. Visiting, donating, collecting, mailing … the ideas are endless.
1. Make a grand-buddy. Go with your child to a nursing home or assisted living facility to visit an elderly person who may not have regular visits with their own grandkids and family. Encourage your child to play board games, read, and share new skills (like rainbow looming or a fun game on the iPad).
2. Enroll your puppy in therapy dog training. I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer this year and had two surgeries. It was a bummer to be stuck overnight in the hospital, but therapy dogs certainly cheered me up! We’re getting our Golden Retriever puppy, Lucy, certified to visit people who could use a little cheering up in February via classes with Creature Comfort. My son, Jack, 7 will attend training sessions and once our girl is certified we’ll visit hospitals together!
3. Send snail mail to deployed troops. Encourage your child to write letters, sign cards, and create homemade art, then mail it to the toughest and bravest overseas. Visit Operation Gratitude to get started.
4. Collect and donate food. Set up a big garbage bin on your porch and have neighbors donate canned goods. Next, ask your child to sort the cans by corn, beans, and soup. Together, bring the donation to a local soup kitchen.
5. Buy holiday gifts for those in need. At Christmastime, our church erects multiple “Giving Trees” on the alter. The trees are decorated with paper ornaments that note things like, “Gift for a 2-year-old boy,” “Warm Slippers Size 8;” “Art supplies.” We select a bunch and hit our local Five Below store to purchase presents. I like to wrap the gifts in white paper and let Jack color on them as an extra special treat.
6. Help out at the library. Visit your local library and see if the children’s librarian needs help shelving books, setting up for story time art projects, or cleaning up after events. Jack helps the librarian pack and store Legos after Lego Lab at our local library.
7. Visit an animal shelter. Volunteer to walk and play with pets. Whether you end up adopting one, or not, your child will learn the responsibilities of having a pet and keep the little guys company in the process.
8. Assemble creative kits for hospitalized kids. Have your child suggest to their teacher that the class collect coloring books and crayons—and envelopes to hold the contents. After packaging the items, children can decorate the front of the envelope. When the project is finished, drive your child to a children’s hospital to make a special delivery.
9. Work with younger kids. Jack started soccer clinic when he was 3. Now that he’s 7 he can assist the little ones at the clinic.