As the new year approaches, people often get reflective and introspective, pondering the things they…
5 Places To Volunteer With Your Kids
The long empty days of summer can drag on and if kids don’t have activities, camps or outings, they can seem endlessly boring. Just because school is out doesn’t mean every day is filled with fun. Some days or even weeks can turn out to be so empty, the kids actually look forward to school because it gives their days purpose and meaning. Volunteering is a way to fill those boring empty days and give your kids an opportunity to give, learn and grow this summer. When I first started looking for volunteering opportunities that my kids could be actively involved in, there weren’t many family-friendly options around. Since then, I’ve found several ways families and children can give back to their community, from organized volunteering to just doing things for someone who needs a little help. Here are my favourite options:
1. Visit your local animal shelter
Local animal shelters, such as BCSPCA, have many volunteer programs ranging from administration to dog walking. Ask at your local shelter if there is something you and your kids could do to help, or – if your kids are old enough – that they could do on their own. Cats, dogs and other small animals need care and love and kids are perfect little bundles of kisses and cuddles.
2. Food banks of Canada
Your local community food bank is always looking for donations and this is an easy way to get your kids moving and giving. For younger children, help them print up simple flyers explaining that they are collecting for the food bank. Decorate a wagon they can pull door to door around your neighbourhood and get outside walking and collecting donations. Families can work side by side at collection centres to help sort all of the donations to be distributed to the community locations. If there are meals served at the food bank, ask if your family can help set tables, serve food or even cook a meal to donate.
3. Visit an Elder Care Facility
The happy faces of children are often welcome at care facilities, their infectious joy spreads through the residents like wildfire. Many facilities and homes have created opportunities for children to integrate with residents- from daycare programs where the children and residents share common spaces everyday, to classes offered to children that pair them with a resident for crafts and games.
4. Parks and Recreation Buddy
Programs offered through parks and recreation strive to be inclusive of many ability levels and volunteers are often needed to provide support to participants. Sign up to be a buddy to a child who needs a partner so they can fully participate in their activity, be it swimming lessons, horse back riding or a day at the park. Don’t forget reading buddies are always in hot demand!
5. Little Acts of Kindness
Not all volunteering has to be through an organization. Just doing little things for other people can make a big difference. If you have teens at home sleeping the summer away, give them a list of opportunities such as mowing the neighbour’s lawn, picking up garbage at the park or driving an elderly friend to run errands, sparing them the hassle of bus rides. Use the act of giving as an opportunity to clean out toy boxes and book shelves! Get your little ones to sort through their toys and books and choose some gently used ones to donate to a shelter, community playgroup or toy lending library.
Summer days needn’t be empty, opening your mind and heart to giving is a rewarding and empowering learning experience for children and adults. Helping out in your community connects you to something bigger and offers a glimpse of how the needs of others differ from your own. It can inspire you to find ways to make lives better, be they human or animal lives.