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With families busier than ever, volunteering may not always be top of mind. But the benefits of children in service roles are many, both for the community, and for the kids – studies have linked service work to a reduced likelihood of at-risk behaviors, while helping them build empathy, confidence, and self-esteem as they practice important life skills.1 Another benefit that busy families will enjoy: volunteering can be done as a family, making it a great way to build in some productive quality time.
Opportunities abound for kids of all ages, abilities, and schedules. Our top picks by age appear below; find more opportunities in your community by contacting local organizations, or searching sites like VolunteerMatch.org or Idealist.org.
(We love hearing your ideas too – share them with us on social media by tagging us @DeepRiverSnacks!)
5 and Under
Add some new “grandparents” to your family. Bring cheer to elderly neighbors by setting up a visit with residents at a local nursing home or deliver meals through Meals On Wheel’s Lets Do Lunch program.
Focus on small acts of kindness. Some of the parents here at Deep River are fans of the Kindness Elves tradition, but if that is a bit too much to commit to, you can still take advantage of the great lists of kind activities available, like this one from TeachingMama.org. Note that these ideas are useful anytime of year, with or without a prop!
Use arts & craft time to help others. The Anti-Cruelty Society has a great list of DIY crafts that help keep shelter animals happy, you can make cards for deployed service members, or paint kindness rocks.
Practice giving. Picking out a gift for someone in need makes the activity more tangible and relatable, especially for younger kids. We’ve had a great experience with Daymaker, which allows you to find kids in need based on age, gender and location, and see/shop their birthday or holiday wish list. “It was really impactful for my 4 and 6 year old to learn about a specific child in need and see that they have the same interests,” says Kristine from our marketing team. There are many ways to give, especially during the holidays – get wish lists for local families from shelters and community support centers – and by making this a regular activity year round by finding new homes for gently used toys, clothes, books and other goods can really make a difference.
School Aged Kids
Be a good neighbor. Encourage your kids to notice opportunities for kindness right outside their door. Perhaps you have an older neighbor that could use help with her trash bins. Or a new baby whose parents might enjoy some fresh baked muffins.
Fundraising. With a little support, even younger kids can raise money for a cause they are passionate about – lemonade stands, dog walking, yard work… even organizing a 5k! Many larger charities provide tools for online fundraising, like Save the Children and Feed the Children*. If these ideas feel too ambitious for now, something as simple as saving their allowance can make a big difference – we love the jar system! Encourage your kids’ interests and brainstorm ideas to empower them to make a difference.
Being a friend to animals. Some shelters allow kids as young as preschoolers to help out cleaning cages, socializing and even reading to animals. Contact your local shelter to see what opportunities might be available near you.
Get active. Many charities use walks, runs or bike rides to generate awareness and raise funds and most have shorter options making them perfect for kids. Find a list of upcoming events in your area and talk with your kids about which cause(s) they want to support. Getting active and making new friends? Win-win, and a great benefit to volunteering with the Special Olympics. Last but not least, cleaning up a local park or wildlife area is another great way to get moving while making a difference.
Tweens and Teens
Take action. As the incredible students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have proved, teens can really make a difference. Sites like DoSomething.org and GenerationOn.org are geared to this audience, while national portals like VolunteerMatch.org and Idealist.org can provide even more ideas.
Be a friend. As mentioned, organizations like the Special Olympics offer incredible opportunities, and you’ll usually find more unified programs locally. At this age though, it’s also important to encourage kids to look even closer for opportunities to help a peer stand up to a bully or get help with their homework. Teens and tweens also make great mentors for younger kids, and can check with leaders in their community – teachers, coaches, Girl and Boy Scout leaders, etc. – to see if they can be a role model for the younger set.
We Give a Chip™: Deep River Snacks is proud to donate a minimum of 10% of net profits to charities each year and is a strong advocate for volunteering! To learn more about how we give back as a company, visit DeepRiverSnacks.com/Giving-Back and follow us on social media @DeepRiverSnacks.
Please note that Deep River Snacks has made every effort to provide useful and credible data, and link to highly regarded charities. However, we encourage you to do your own research. Deep River Snacks is not responsible for the content on any of the sites referenced.