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Volunteering is a great practice for all of us at any age, so everyone wins when you take some time this summer to participate in a volunteer activity. You’ll be teaching your little one the importance of helping others while also doing something nice for someone else in need.
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Have your little one help you with a bit of baking by using the rolling pin, stirring the batter, adding the sprinkles, or licking the whisk after creating a yummy treat for the cause of your choosing. This blends learning, family time, and volunteerism into one activity. Ask your kiddo who they’d like to make treats for so they feel even more connected to the project. Whether it’s a 4th of July treat for veterans at your local veteran’s hospital, homemade dog treats for your animal shelter, or a plate of cookies for your homeless shelter, it’s an act that your child will remember and the recipients will surely appreciate.
Finding a few hours in an afternoon to pick up trash doesn’t have to just be an Earth Day activity. Get your kids excited to clean up for a little while by picking an area they like to go to, like a park they enjoy, the block that you live on, or a beach they like to visit. Explain that they are taking pride in their favorite places by keeping it clean. This will not only make them feel like they are giving back to the places that give to them, but this is also instilling an important lesson that they shouldn’t litter. Make it a little more fun by turning it into a scavenger hunt as well since, as we know, picking up trash isn’t the most glamorous of activities.
Some parents make it a habit to have their children go through their things and donate some toys every year around Christmas time, but there’s no reason you have to stick to doing this just once a year. During the summer, take another inventory of your things and find out what you can donate. Encourage your children to do the same and find some things they think other less fortunate kids would have fun playing with. Encourage your kids by doing the same thing and finding your own things to donate. You can even find some old stuff to sell and use that money to donate to a cause you and your children are passionate about - like Ronald McDonald House charity or to your local church.
For parents who have a child in the NICU, life can be rough. Especially for parents whose children are in a NICU in another state, as it means many late nights sleeping in hospital quarters or hotels. When considering a volunteer activity, you and your family may consider making small care packages for moms and dads who have children in the NICU. The care packages don’t have to be elaborate, but some items you may include are:
A journal and a pen
Restaurant gift cards
A book or a magazine
Premature baby clothing and items
Hygiene items like shampoo, lotion, a toothbrush, and socks
Budgeting for a baby is expensive, and having a premature baby is even more difficult. For this reason, NICU care packages can do wonders to help with new moms having a hard time on a financial and emotional level. Your children will love picking out items, arranging them, and delivering them to moms and dads in need.
Chances are your community has a ton of wonderful organizations that work hard to help the children, animals, elderly, homeless, parks, and less fortunate people in your city. Talk to your children about which organizations matter to them, and decide to donate a Saturday to that organization. Maybe it’s one Saturday per month, or one Saturday in the summer, but any amount of time matters a lot to each organization and the people they help. Your kids can decide to walk dogs at your local animal shelter, have a bake sale to donate for a children’s organization, have a garage sale to donate to veterans, spend a saturday working at a soup kitchen, plant trees in your local park, or participate in a number of different ideas and organizations.
The summer time is a fun time for kids; it’s a break from school and a few months of swimming, family time, and days with friends. Luckily, volunteering can easily be seen as one of those fun activities for them during the summer. Take some time and organize a fun day of volunteering with your kiddos. Find something they will enjoy and feel passionate about and let them know how wonderful it is for them to agree to spend their time helping others. Not only will this seem like a fun, new activity for them, they will also learn how important it is to help others if you can.
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She enjoys watching football with her husband, discovering new podcasts, and playing Frisbee with her dog, Titan. Follow her on Twitter!
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