Illustration: Children volunteering Illustration: Children volunteering Illustration: Children volunteering Illustration: Children volunteering

Giving Back to Community

You're Never Too Young to Give Back: Getting Kids to Volunteer

Even Kindergartners Can Experience the Good Feeling of Helping Others

Inspiring your little ones to give back to the community can take a little finessing, but the end result is well worth it. Volunteering teaches kids stewardship and can boost confidence. And it's a great way to spend family time.

First and foremost, ask your kids where their interests lie. Little ones as young as four and five years old may surprise you with their suggestions. Encouraging them to contribute to the conversation gives them a sense of pride and ownership.

Generate a list of potential volunteer opportunities and then narrow them down as a family. If you're stuck on where to give back, here are a few suggestions:

1. Community garden. In spring and summer, this is a fantastic way to get kids off the couch and outside. It's a task that even little ones can participate in. As a bonus, they have an excuse to get their hands dirty.

2. Toy and clothing drive. This volunteer opportunity lets you and your neighbors get rid of some clutter while a child in need gets a gently used toy or item of clothing. It may take a little convincing to get your kids to give up their things, so start by asking them to part with just one item they don't use any more.

3. Food bank or soup kitchen. Gather canned and boxed food from neighbors for your local food bank. Or volunteer to serve a meal at a nearby soup kitchen. Both activities are great ways for your family to get out and meet new people while doing good.

4. Senior citizen center. Who doesn't love playing a board game? Older children can put their Monopoly or chess skills to work. They may even learn a trick or two from the old timers.

5. Library. Teens can volunteer to tutor or read books to younger children. This is a great confidence builder and helps foster something every child could use a bit more of: Patience.

6. Organize something at school. Stewardship doesn't just have to be in the home. Encourage your child to get the whole class or even the whole school involved in giving back. Activities like a coat drive, mitten tree or even a penny drive for a local charity are simple, effective ways kids can contribute as a part of a larger group.

Remember, kids learn by example. If you want them to be good citizens, be one yourself.

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