What Volunteer Work Can Kids Do?
While there are many volunteer assignments that are reserved for adults 18 and over, there are still plenty of opportunities for kids of all ages. Volunteering is a great way to teach your children and teens the gift that is giving of your time and efforts. It is so important as parents, grandparents, teachers, and leaders to teach our youth about giving back and contributing to our communities. Since it may be slightly more challenging to find a worthwhile volunteer opportunity for kids, we have taken the time to create a useful list to get you started with some ideas.
Before reviewing the categories below it will be helpful to consider your teen or child’s personal interests as well as your kids ages. Do they have a talent or hobby that can be useful in some capacity? Do they have an affinity for animals? Also, consider their level of interest and commitment; it is important to match yourself and your child with a good volunteer work opportunity so that the experience is fun, rewarding, and uplifting.
Kid-Friendly Volunteer Ideas
There are various local volunteer work categories that are kid-friendly, even to young children. We will break them down and give a quick summary of what the volunteer experience may entail. Each individual organization will have its own specific requirements pertaining to age, supervision, experience, background checks, etc. So be sure to call a specific local chapter of an organization to clarify any specifics before arriving.
Animal Shelter Volunteering
If your child is an animal lover then volunteering at a local animal shelter could be a great option for them. Most animal shelters operate nearly completely through volunteers. They need volunteers for: cleaning kennels, feeding, walking dogs, socializing puppies, running adoption events, and that isn’t a complete list. Usually, as long as the child has signed permission from their parent or guardian they can volunteer as young as 14, even younger if you bring them and supervise their volunteer time. If there isn’t a volunteering opportunity at an animal shelter near you, another way to help would be organizing a pet supply drive, collecting items needed then dropping them off for donation. The experience is truly rewarding and your child can feel good about really making a difference for abandoned animals in need. The biggest drawback is they will probably want to leave with a new family member so you’ve been warned.
Community Service for Teens
Your teen’s school counselor or teacher will have many ideas on how your teen can complete any mandatory volunteer hours, but we will also cover several below, including library volunteer work, tutoring, coaching youth sports, and service projects.
If your child is a good student and enjoys school or even just a specific subject, volunteering to tutor lower grade students is a great opportunity. Helping struggling students catch up or grasp a concept that has alluded them can feel great. They can ask their school about how to get signed off for completed hours. There are usually opportunities for after school tutoring that can be an easy and convenient way to get your teen volunteering after school. Another common location to inquire about volunteering to tutor is your local public library. There are often opportunities to volunteer with kids tutoring or to help out in the library if you’ve got a bookworm at home.
Another great opportunity to get your kid volunteering is in sports. If your child has years of experience with baseball, soccer, basketball, swimming, virtually any sport they can most likely find an opportunity to help out younger kids. Most youth sports organizations are run largely by volunteers, while they may not be able to be a head coach, they may be able to assistant coach or become a referee. Teenagers can volunteer in maintenance to spruce up fields, or in clean up after game days. Contact any local sports league to get specifics on what where they may be needing volunteers.
Service Projects for Teens
Every community has different needs, but there is almost always an opportunity for a service project to volunteer time with. If there isn’t you can also contact your local city hall or mayor’s office and find out what needs the community may have. Some quick and easy ideas include organizing a community cleanup, or a recycling collection event. Cleaning up a common space such as a park or walking trail is a great way to get active in the community, get volunteer hours, and your teen can even include their friends in their volunteer effort. More detail projects may include something like building a shade structure at a local playground or park, planting trees, or bushes for the beautification of your local parks or open space, possibly graffiti removal, or even repainting or repairing a community center or other common space. Your teen can contribute to
Volunteering as a Family
Volunteering along with your kids is a great way to instill the value of volunteering and share the joy in giving back as a family. There are many ways families can volunteer together, we will cover a few of the main ones in this article.
Nursing Homes: Retirement communities and assisted living homes for seniors offer a wealth of opportunities for volunteering. From penpals for the little ones too young to visit to in-person visits and social hours with your older kids or teens, there are plenty of chances to give back. Many nursing homes have community rooms for social time and recreational activities. You can contact one in your area to see what needs they may have. Some ideas include volunteering to teach a craft or an art lesson, reading to a senior, or entertainment such as a magic show, singing, dancing for their enjoyment. Many seniors struggle with loneliness and a simple social visit can mean the world to them. Showing our kids through action what it means to care and give back our time and energy is priceless.
Food Banks or Soup Kitchen: Another family volunteer opportunity is your local food bank or soup kitchen. Your family can help with pickup and collection of canned foods, the organization at the food pantry, and local out reach to let the community know where to go to get help with groceries when in need. For soup kitchens, there may be age limitations when it comes to preparing and serving meals, but that isn’t all the help that is needed. Soup kitchens also need help with cleanup and sanitation and if you are volunteering as a family, there is usually no problem having younger kids push a broom, dispose of trash, and clean tables. One more option is organizing food drives in your local community and donating to a local food bank. Be sure to check with the food bank before and get specifics on which food they can accept. If your city does not have a food bank or food pantry you can check with a local church, they often operate food pantries for those in need.
Where Can I Volunteer With My Kids?
There are many opportunities to volunteer with your kids, actually many more if you volunteer along with your kids. Nursing homes, food pantries, homeless shelter, community service projects, any non-profit event like a pet adoption or charity run/walk event will have opportunities to volunteer alongside your kids. Think about what interests your family has or your kids and start from there if they are inspired and interested the experience will be that much more satisfying. There are of course a few places that require volunteers to be adults, but you should call to verify that as every location or city/state may have different rules in place for age requirements. Hospitals for example usually cannot allow youth to volunteer, but you can find a way to get your kids involved and help out still such as doing a toy/electronics drive to collect items for kids who are hospitalized.
Why is Volunteering Important For Kids?
Volunteering is a wonderful way to teach kids and teens about giving back. It instills in them a feeling of gratitude for all they have, and a sense of worth when they give back and help. In short, it feels good. Helping out and volunteering, making a difference in your community is a healthy way to encourage self-confidence, pride, and empathy for others. It also helps create a feeling of community and of belonging for your kids. Children and teens who volunteer regularly are more likely to do well in school, graduate high school, and go on to graduate college. Experts speculate this is because volunteer opportunities usually involve life skills such as long-term planning, working in groups, and interacting with people different from ourselves. These are vital life skills that help in school and work.
Sites For Finding Volunteer Opportunities For Kids
There are many online resources for finding opportunities to volunteer for children of all ages, teens, and adults. Volunteer Match is an excellent volunteer resource.