› Exploring the Ways Kids Can Serve Their Community
Exploring the Ways Kids Can Serve Their Community
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - March 3rd, 2020
Last week, we looked through the lens of community service work in order to extract the social, emotional, and educational benefits that such participation has for both your child and the organizations that they are serving. Today, we want to provide some guidance for when it comes time for your child to choose their own community service project. Through this post, it is our objective to give some simple inspiration to both you and your child. If anything, these suggestions will be helpful conversation starters when you sit down with your child and discuss their interests, passions, and the ways in which they want to help others.
This blog will be divided into two parts, as today we will primarily focus on 5 different service based ideas. Next week we will make sure to follow up with the remaining 5 ideas! In between posts, you and your child will have some time to consider everything we’ve discussed. Now let’s dive right in!
5 Ways Kids Can Serve Their Community
1.) Giving back to Children Battling Illness
I purposefully began with this form of community service work, as it is not only critical work, but something that often gives children a meaningful awareness of others conditions. Specifically, other individuals who may be close to the same age as your child. This form of work can be done both remotely, as well as in children’s hospitals or other medical facilities. It is important to note that there may be age restrictions when it comes to volunteering directly in the hospital. Children who are sick are often in need of a smile, support, and something to cheer them up. If your child is interested in the arts or other creative tasks, have them try creating their own cards for children in need. They can begin by writing a brief yet supportive message, and then continue by decorating the card in any way that they choose. Explain to them the power that their personalized message will have for a child who is not well. Even though your child may be young, they will be able to realize that they are making an important difference in the day of a child. In addition to artwork or cards, you may also want to donate art supplies to your local hospital. Art is a big part of many of these children’s day to day, so try talking to a representative at your chosen medical facility. These supplies can go a long way.
When it comes to volunteering at your hospital, do not hesitate to reach out to the volunteering program in order to explore the various ways in which you can contribute. Even if it means just reading a book or playing with and alongside a child, those few hours will be extremely meaningful. Family members will be even more appreciative that their children can forget about their daily struggles for just a little bit of time.
2.) Organizing/Participating in a food drive!
This next project is interesting, as it is one that your child can either help to organize or choose to actively participate in. Holding food drives are fantastic school based projects, that your child’s grade or a group of his or her friends can help to organize. You child can work to choose the dates of the drive, create a creative and meaningful advertising campaign, and choose a designated area for all of the food to be dropped off. Next, it is time to begin the collection process. You will want to be collecting canned goods, as these are the types of foods that have a lengthy shelf life. Even if your child does not organize the drive itself, try having them go through their own pantry to choose some items that they wish to donate to their local food bank. A few items really does go a long way. Most importantly, through this task they can learn about the importance and scarcity of food for those who struggle to afford it. The idea of nourishment may take on a different meaning for them after they participate in this effort.
While we are on the topic of food drives, we can also discuss the other ways in which your child can participate in feeding the hungry. If your child is interested, they can dedicate some time to working at their local soup kitchen for a few hours every week. Again, their assignment will be dependent on their age. For slightly older children, they will have the opportunity to get behind the counter and serve individuals their food. Often, your child or teen will be presented with the opportunity to sit with those eating. They will have the chance to hear others stories, keep someone company while he or she eats, and help with any needed cleanup. Every bit helps!
3.) Spend Some Time Working With Animals
Does your child have a passion for animals and wishes to work closer with them? If the answer is yes, then try exploring the variety of ways in which you child can donate his or her time to helping animals in need. If your child wishes to volunteer at an animal shelter, begin looking into some local shelters in your area. Many shelters seek help in areas such as walking dogs, serving food and treats, filling water bowls, and helping to clean up cages or play areas (just to name a few). Additionally, you may have the opportunity to spend some time playing with the animals, who are in need to human contact. It is important that you spend some time looking into the volunteer application as well as the age limit. In some instances, children under a certain age are required to work under the guidance of an adult. If this is the case for your family, consider participating alongside your child. Not only will you have the opportunity to spend some time working alongside your kid(s), but you will be making a meaningful contribution to an excellent cause.
Another option that you and your child can consider is helping to raise money and a sense of awareness for animals that are in need. A great way to raise money is by holding a bake sale, where the proceeds can go to an organization of your choosing. Be sure to clearly identify each price of your baked goods, as well as the cause that you are supporting. Every cent really does go a long way!
4.) Make a Visit to Residents in Nursing Homes
Making a visit to a Nursing home is a meaningful form of community service work that your child can partake in. It is not uncommon that residents in nursing homes or assisted living facilities become lonely or in need of more social interaction. It is often the case that they do not have families, or their families live far away and are unable to visit. When children visit the residents they have a few different options depending on the facility. The kids may be presented with the option to keep residents company while they play games, arts and crafts, or other activities. They can socialize and participate alongside the individuals that they are visiting. This interaction is particularly meaningful and often enhances their day. If your child has a musical talent, they may be able to arrange a mini performance with the manager of the facility. For example, if your child plays the piano, he or she may be able to arrange a time in which they can come in to play! It is always great when one can use their individual talents to benefit other in some form. More then anything, your child will begin to learn the importance of family, friends, and what it means to support an individual who may need some extra care.
5.) Hold a book drive!
If your child is an avid reader, then they will understand the meaning behind holding a book drive for children who do not have access to such resources. A book drive is something that your child can organize and or participate in at school. It is also a project that he can choose to do from home. Have your child go through his book shelf and look for books that they may have already read multiple times, or it is no longer age appropriate. It is important to make sure that the books are gently used and are still in good condition. Collect enough books that can then be donated to a children’s hospital, homeless shelter, or school (just to name a few). A little really does go a long way.
I hope that from this post, both you and your child were able to gain some inspiration for when it comes time to choosing a service based job. It is important to note that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing the kind of work that your child wishes to participate in. Your child even has the option of sampling a few forms of work before settling on something that they really love. There is absolutely no shame in having your child explore the causes that they are passionate about. Next week, I am looking forward to continuing our discussion on the topic of community service ideas.