Helping Kids Make a Difference
It’s Never Too Early to Help
It’s easy to forget how lucky we are. We get in a particular groove, driving the kids to school, cheering them on at sporting events, helping them with homework. But are we teaching them how to pitch in and help others who are not as fortunate? How do they learn that not every child can ask a parent for basketball shoes and have them in time for next team practice? Do our kids realize that the crystal-clear drinking water that comes out of the tap is not an endless flow?
It’s certainly never too early to show kids–by your example–which you care about the earth and those around us who are in need. It can be a simple task, like taking a child with you when you deliver a meal to a friend who is ill. If you take part in a 5 or 10K race, why not make it a family event? Your race results may not break the world record, but think of what your children are learning, especially if you take the time to explain that money donated will help a sick child or an animal in a shelter.
Easy Ways to Make a Difference
Here are some easy ways we’ve seen people make a difference and teach their kids the value of giving:
- Start a peanut butter and jelly drive. In San Francisco, school kids collecting just these two items help provide 17,000 nutritious meals to low-income and homeless seniors each year for the breakfast program at the St Francis Living Room. Why not set up a drive at your local school?
- Set up a magazine and paperback book drive. Shelters, nursing homes and hospital waiting rooms are always in need of fresh magazines and books. Find a local service needing these items and help your child start a drive in a classroom, scout troop, or sports team.
- Attend a beach or park cleanup. Many cities and towns have local “clean up” events. In California, the state coastal commission sponsors an annual coastal cleanup day. Check out the fantastic results for the 2013 event:
“With 100% of the cleanup sites report, the statewide count stands at 58,158 volunteers. Those volunteers picked up 674,234 pounds of trash and an additional 75, 089 pounds of recyclable materials, for a total of 749,323 pounds or 375 tons.”
- Knit a cap for a preemie or a scarf for a senior. If your kid loves to knit or is still a beginner, many organizations welcome handmade knitted or crocheted items. Check with a local hospital or senior center for possible places to donate. Also search online for nonprofits that distribute handmade items.
- Foster an animal. If your kids are pleading with you to get a cat or dog, why not try fostering a pet for a month or two? Contact your local SPCA to see if it has a foster program. Many need foster homes for kittens until they are ready for adoption.
- Visit a veteran (for teens over 16). If you have a veterans administration hospital in your area, see if it sponsors a monthly ice cream social or other event for residents. Teens will have the opportunity to chat with veterans, which must be an uplifting experience for these young volunteers and the vets!
Interested in other ways kids can volunteer? Then check out our blog post on Organizations with Volunteer Programs for Kids!
Special thanks to our contributing writer, Kathryn Maclaury for her work on this article.