One of my fondest memories comes from the time spent volunteering at the Buffalo Museum of Science when I was a kid. Of course, I wasn’t able to do it alone, and it gave me lots of quality time to spend with my dad and younger brother. In addition to having a great time and getting to spend long days in a museum, I also gained other benefits. I learned the value of giving your time up to a noble cause. I learned how to talk to strangers and share the knowledge that I had gained about a particular topic. I learned about everything from fossils and mummies to minerals and insects. Volunteering with your children is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to a parent. The impact is truly extraordinary. So over the summer, why not take the time to find a way you and your child can spend time together helping others? The following are some ideas on family-friendly volunteering experiences.
Volunteering at an animal shelter can range from walking dogs to socializing cats. For animal-lovers, this is a great way to give back to the community! This volunteer experience doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time, but gives plenty of rewards! For further volunteer opportunities with local animal shelters, try fundraising money or supplies.
For educational volunteer opportunities, museums can’t be beat. Most museums are extremely eager to have younger volunteers, and kids get a chance to go behind the scenes and educate museum patrons about many different topics. This is a great opportunity to help your child become more outgoing while providing a service to the local community.
Many senior citizens love children, so volunteering at a nursing home can easily become a family affair! Whether you choose to visit or to make cards for the holidays, this opportunity is full of potential learning experiences.
For families who enjoy the great outdoors, a park clean up is a great way to volunteer and help the environment. Volunteering to help out at a park is a great way for children to learn about ecosystems and the ways in which humans have an impact on the environment.
Soup Kitchens/Food Pantries
Helping a child to appreciate the privileges they have can be an extremely powerful experience, and volunteering at a soup kitchen or food pantry helps to not only expose your child to the world but also to find ways they can help others less fortunate than themselves.
One-time special events are a great way to spend some of your summer volunteering. Big events usually need volunteers, and there are typically jobs that children can perform with adult supervision. Large events are a fun way to help out and be part of a community effort.
Whatever you choose to pursue, volunteering is a great way to educate children and make them stronger citizens. Show them your own passion for helping the community by making it a family event! For help finding local volunteer opportunities, try Craigslist or VolunteerMatch. If there’s something your family is interested in doing, though, don’t hesitate to ask staff members what kinds of family volunteer opportunities exist, or could be created especially for you!