Hello! Welcome to the Kindness Clubhouse!
In April, there is Global Youth Service Day, September is Hunger Action Month and in November we recognize Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
These are times during the year that we can focus on getting kids involved in service and volunteer projects. But… a common question I get asked is “how can we find different volunteer opportunities for kids that they can do?”
The reality is that there are many volunteer opportunities out there that require a volunteer to be a certain age. So when you have a child that is 5 or 8 or 12, you might have some difficulties finding a project for them that doesn’t require you to put in a major amount of work or stress or overwhelm (wow… my heart is racing just thinking about it).
But I am here to help! I’ve spent many years working with educators, parents, and community organizations who want to plan meaningful service opportunities for young volunteers. There are some challenges involved but it is definitely possible to find volunteer opportunities for kids.
This post will take you through 5 EASY ways you can find volunteer opportunities for kids that they can do.
Step #1 to finding Volunteer Opportunities for Kids: Check with A Community Agency
There are many community organizations that have projects going on and would love to have children there.
- Nursing Home or Senior Center – children can hand out prizes at a Bingo Game
- Library – children can stuff bags for an upcoming event or make encouraging bookmarks to give out
- Parks & Recreation – children could hand out bottles of water to participants in an event
- Nonprofit agency – children could fill Luminary bags for a special service
The main concern of any community agency is that the children volunteers are supervised. Make sure you mention that you know this is a concern and that parents will take part in the volunteer activity with their child.
Step #2 to finding Volunteer Opportunities for Kids: Talk to your School
There are a lot of goals that your school has that could be an opportunity for your child to serve. Start the conversation with them by asking, “what is a wishlist item?”. Your answer might be there.
- Create cards to give out to teachers, staff, and administration to show appreciation.
- Collect extra school supplies or books that can go in a resource closet for teachers to use.
- Help with a project in the school library.
- Paint picnic tables for a reading center outside.
Step #3 to finding Volunteer Opportunities for Kids: Ask your Child
Many times the easiest solution to solving your problem and getting an idea to involve your child in service is to ask him or her yourself.
- For a young child – “What makes you sad or mad?” Follow up with, “What do you think we can do about it?”
- For an older child – “What is one way that you think you can make a difference in your community?” Follow up with, “What do you need to make it happen?”
The solution will often present itself in their answer. They could start with a small action or by simply making posters about the issue to create awareness.
Step #4 to finding Volunteer Opportunities for Kids: Go Outside
Going outside is great for any age child and is perfect for the younger child with a short attention span.
- Go to your local park and pick up trash. Have the goal to fill one bag and make it a game.
- Find a community garden that may need help pulling weeds to volunteer weekly/monthly to be part of the watering rotation
- Find rocks that you can paint encouraging messages on and then place them outside in well traveled areas (see Kindness Rocks)
Step #5 to finding Volunteer Opportunities for Kids: Look on Youth Service America
Youth Service America is a wonderful organization that not only provides information and ideas but also has funding opportunities for projects that involve volunteers between 5-25 years old.
It was through Youth Service America that we received a grant to have our own service project for Global Youth Service Day. Children of all ages and their families came to bag sweet potatoes that fed families all over our community
Bonus: The story behind Stella the Sweet Potato’s Amazing Journey. This is a picture book for children that introduces volunteer opportunities for kids.
And through telling the story we decided we wanted to share it with other kids. My daughter helped create the character and inserted her own comments as the character’s words. You can check out each of the books by clicking their covers below.
What volunteer opportunities for kids inspired this book?
The Society of St. Andrew is an organization that provides Produce Drops for communities. The very popular event, the Potato Drop, is a great opportunity for kids to volunteer because it is hands on and requires very little instruction.
- Potatoes are gleaned from a field.
- Potatoes are dropped off for volunteers to bag.
- Community agencies receive the bags to provide food.
There are many ways youth can get involved with The Society of St. Andrew beyond the Potato Drop. They host gleaning events where children can go into the fields and pick the produce!
Why a picture book and coloring book?
When I first organized the Potato Drop with students at my college, we made it into a Global Youth Service Day project. Families were invited and worked beside each other to bag the potatoes. They also help prepare them for pick-up. My daughter was four years old when we did the project and she wanted to know more…
- Where did the potatoes come from?
- How did the potatoes get to us?
- Why did the potatoes not go to a store?
While answering these questions, the story started shaping up. Through pictures I could show my daughter where the potatoes came from, how they were transported, and then what happened during the project.And through telling the story we decided we wanted to share it with other kids. My daughter helped create the character and inserted her own comments as the character’s words. You can check out each of the books by clicking their covers below.
The final product:
And through telling the story we decided we wanted to share it with other kids. My daughter helped create the character and inserted her own comments as the character’s words. You can check out each of the books by clicking their covers.
INSPIRE someone today by sharing the Story behind Stella the Sweet Potato’s Amazing Journey!
Want to inspire your kids or your students?