OWTK Kindie Music News

Volunteering with your Kids

Some people may think that because they have children, performing acts of volunteerism is out of their reach. That is far from the truth. We also used that excuse at one point to keep us from lending a hand but the fact is many charitable events and volunteer opportunities are designed to include the whole family, including younger children (ages 3 and up typically, but some may allow for even younger kids).

Another common misconception is that the time commitment will be too great; therefore chipping in for a cause feels impossible. Volunteering does not need to take a lot of time or involve a long-term commitment. Many of the family (and individual) opportunities out there may call for only a few hours or minutes – literally! Something as simple as volunteering to clean up your local park or neighborhood is an activity that can coexist with your regular trips in and around those areas -simply bending over to pick up some trash and disposing of it properly counts!

Every action, regardless of its size or scope, is important – both to your community and to enriching your little ones’ lives, providing perspective, humility, and a sense of purpose and pride.

Volunteering can also strengthen your family unit and provide your kids with a sense of responsibility and enthusiasm in making a difference. Through the process of volunteering, you and your family may have the privilege of expanding the network of folks your children interact with, possibility exposing them to different races, cultures, and socio-economic conditions. By doing so, you may instill a sense of worldly perspective and, hopefully, a bit of tolerance – a trait that too often seems be in short supply in this crazy world.
It also may, as they grow up, make them look inward a bit more and value their family, possessions, and the opportunities that they have been afforded.

Below are some ways your entire family can help out in your community:

The Children for Children Foundation’s Celebration Program encourages families to spend a bit less than they have planned for an upcoming child’s birthday party, bar/bat mitzvah, sweet sixteen, etc. and donate that amount to help provide grants to under funded New York City schools. You could certainly use this great idea to make a donation to any organization you believe in and wish to support.

Artists Helping Children offers numerous ideas for ways you and your children can bring a smile to the face of an ill child. These projects range from hand painting/coloring gift bags to holding charity birthday parties. They also provide easy to use templates for sewing and knitting your very own doll or bear as part of their volunteer crocheting program where kids are encouraged to make a toy for a child in need.

Idealist.org’s Worldwide Volunteer Resource Center – A vast collection of volunteer opportunities worldwide. You can search the Idealist.org database by age and interest.

Do Something – The Social Movement by and for Young People. Includes a great one page “How to Start Volunteering” sheet with six easy to follow steps designed to help older kids get out and Do Something! Also, dosomething.org links through to Volunteer Match which allows kids (and adults) to search opportunities by zip code and topic of interest.

Humane Teen – Teens helping protect pets and animals. This site is provided by the Humane Society of the United States. Humane Teen provides kids with easy to accomplish tasks such as calling Ben and Jerry’s to encourage them to fulfill their corporate promise and begin using eggs from cage-free hens in their U.S. ice cream production and emailing Gov. Jeb Bush to help the petition to protect Florida Manatees.

What you decide to do is far less important than the fact that you are out there lending a helping hand and showing your kids the benefits of personal sacrifice and philanthropy.

Even if the act(s) of volunteerism that touch your heart are not appropriate for your kids, the mere fact that their mother and/or father is participating in making something in this world better has a chance to have a profound impact on them as they grow up. Just be sure to continually discuss your efforts with your children and speak of the positive impact you are having on the people and/or places that your work is touching.

Mrs. OWTK has spent much of the summer tutoring a 7-year-old-boy. The commitment is a mere 1-hour a week, at our local library. While she is there, I talk to our daughter about what her Mommy is doing (helping a little boy learn to read, write, and do rhyming words – just like her!)
She gets really excited to know her Mommy is helping him with these same topics that we practice at home.

One more tip for getting your young ones involved in the concept of charity and volunteering:
Have your child donate gently used toys as part of a holiday or birthday ritual. Most middle-class American children receive WAY too many toys during these special times of the year – many of which will never be touched or played with.

Why not have them donate a new or gently used toy to a program such as Toys for Tots or to the Goodwill. Now that she is two and half years old and can grasp this concept, we will be starting this with our girl this coming holiday season.

Out With The Kids

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