The Busy Family’s Guide to Doing More Charitable Work Together
By Amanda Henderson
Between work, school, and kids’ extracurricular activities, families today are juggling more than ever. With so much going on, many parents want to get their families more involved with charitable work but aren’t sure how to fit it in. This year, make giving back part of your family’s regular routine, and you may be surprised by how much it helps you slow down and actually get more out of life.
Decide as a Family
Working together to give back benefits not only those you serve but also your entire family. Teaching kids the importance of serving others helps them learn empathy, compassion, and a sense of responsibility to their community. Volunteering also develops useful life skills, and it sets the stage for your kids to grow up to become adults who continue to give back. To make sure it’s a positive experience for everyone, Create the Good recommends you start by having a conversation with the whole family to discuss everyone’s interests and concerns. Decide if you want to do a one-time project or something that’s ongoing. If several family members have different ideas, you may want to pick several one-time projects.
One-Time Project Ideas
● Donate – Kids can get involved in gathering together their old clothes, toys, movies, and books to donate. Rather than just dropping items off at a thrift store, research a local charity where these items are needed, such as giving DVDs and games to a children’s hospital. This way kids will gain a better understanding of why donations matter and how they are truly helping.
● Get crafty – Spend a little time making something together as a family. Remember that charity can start right in your own neighborhood. The whole family can enjoy baking cookies together and then giving them to neighbors to brighten their day. Or make no-sew blankets together and donate them to Project Linus, an organization that gives blankets to shelters, hospitals, and other places where they are needed.
● Raise funds or organize a supply drive – All charities need funds to operate, so help kids create a fundraising project. When the weather is nice, help kids set up a lemonade stand, and be sure to let customers know which charity you are supporting. Your family can also organize a food or school supply drive to collect items that are needed locally.
Ongoing Project Ideas
● Join a community garden – Doing something charitable as a family becomes easier to fit into your daily life when you make it a hobby that you do together regularly. Consider joining and contributing to a community garden as a way to get to know your neighbors and develop a stronger sense of community. Your whole family will also benefit from the exercise and time spent outdoors, and kids will learn where good, nutritious food comes from. Many community gardens also donate produce to local food banks and other charities.
● Volunteer at a nursing home – Spending time at a nursing home is something the entire family can do together, even when you have small children. Set aside a day each week or month to visit and engage in activities with the residents. Your whole family will form relationships with the people you meet, which shows kids that contributing your time charitably can be mutually beneficial.
You don’t have to look far to find giving opportunities in your area. A good place to start is with your children’s guidance counselor. They work closely with many community organizations and will have an intimate understanding of the needs of local families. You can also reach out to your church, senior center, or food bank. The police and fire station may also be able to guide you in the direction of a worthwhile cause.
These are just a few of the many possibilities for your family to get more involved in charitable work this year. When you find something your family is passionate about, it becomes easier to integrate service into your regular lives. Keep in mind that some activities are more age appropriate for children than others. Make sure you also talk with children about why the work you’re doing is important, and take some time to reflect on the experience together afterward.
When you find ideas to give back that suit your family’s interests, getting involved becomes rewarding rather than feeling like a chore. Giving back as a family is an opportunity to spend quality time together that benefits your community and your family. Making time for others is a win-win, so make 2018 the year your family starts a tradition of service!
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